Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Friday, July 06, 2007

The 7th of WHO??!?!??

With preemptive apologies to Ludwig...

Well, I've just found out what the oh-so-wise executive committee of the Kashima Philharmonic (um...fanfare?) has decided for us to do now that Mr. Ogawa is no longer our conductor.

Starting tonight, we are going to be working on Beethoven's 7th Symphony.

Beethoven's 7th doesn't enjoy the ready, household familiarity of his 5th, 6th, or 9th symphonies. However, it is a favorite among die-hard fans of the classical genre. It is also a wonderful work of music. It was composed while Beethoven was at a spa resort for the sake of his health, and most of it is very upbeat and optimistic. The main theme of the first movement is as catchy as catchy can get and makes one want to whistle it while skipping down the hall. The second movement, the only slow and dark piece, is so profoundly emotional, so naturally tear-jerking that it was long used by the Philadelphia Philharmonic as a memorial performed every time a current or former member died. If you haven't been picked up and carried away by the third movement, the fourth will definitely get you out of your seat. It ROCKS!

I really like the 7th. It is one of my personal favorites and one I've always wanted to try.

It just irritates me to DEATH that the Kashima Philharmonic is going to be doing it.

Yes, you read that right.

The thing is that the 7th, like most of Beethoven's works, isn't technically difficult at all. If you only talk about the written notes, most junior high school concert bands could have it down after only a few practices. But that's precisely what makes it so tough. Since the written notes are easy, the music is brutally hard. You can plop the sheet music on your stand, crank it out perfectly as written, and make an utter, bloody ass of yourself. It's not MEANT to be played that way! The notes alone are not enough! It takes a very deep and mature sense of style...musicality, if you will...and the ability to put emotion into the notes. If you can't do that, you have no business whatsoever even attempting the thing!!!!

I was fairly impressed with the Kashima Philharmonic's performance of Beethoven's 5th and his Egmont Overture last December, but it was a lot of hard work even getting ourselves to that level. On the other hand, the less than impressive performance of "Peter and the Wolf" at last month's POPS concert showed just how far we still have to go as a group. The 7th? Do the morons members of the executive committee really think we have anywhere near the musical maturity needed to pull it off without making total fools of ourselves?

Needless to say, Mr. Ogawa is laughing. But I'm not.
We'll see how tonight's rehearsal goes...if it goes at all.


  • Thanks for your previous visit to my blog at "Robin's Empire".

    I have decided to close this blog and start it as "robin's karma" on 070707, 0707hrs.

    I acknowledged your visit and thank you for all your comments in my final post for "Robin's Empire"

    Thank you for being a cyberfriend.

    By Blogger Robin, at 3:24 PM  

  • It will be an "adventure" (see my previous comment in another post about adventures).

    By Blogger Don Snabulus, at 6:05 AM  

  • er, don't get so uptight about it. Try to enjoy the piece.

    Besides, you will prbably end up directing it, as they haven't found a replacement for Mr. Ogawa. perhpas that will be challenging.

    By Blogger Pa've, at 8:05 AM  

  • There is another way to look at it. As a community orchestra, the organization gives both its members and its audience an opportunity to experience thing they otherwise would not and be enriched for the experience.

    Sticking to pieces that are "safe" may result in technically better performances, but they do not help everyone grow in their understanding and appreciation of music.

    I know all too well the difficulty of getting a community group - of any sort - to put in the time and effort such works deserve, but that too is part of the process.

    Express your views to the orchestra (in an encouraging/inspiring way) and see who rises to the challenge.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 10:14 AM  

  • Well, we had our first rehearsal of The 7th.

    It was actually a blast to play it, but it definitely showed our weaknesses. At times it was just plain painful.

    I think Pandabonium does have a very good point. Yes, I think it will provide us with a valuable experience. However, I've noticed that most of the more experienced members feel the same way I do. Ironically, many of the less experienced members have played a concert band version of it at some point in their lives, and that's why they think we can pull it off.

    One of the biggest worries from the negative camp is that, if we perform it poorly, we might end up losing the following we've worked so hard to build up. (Either that or we'll bring in a lot of people that don't really know better.)

    I may very well end up directing rehearsal. They've actually recruited a professional conductor who has a passion for helping community orchestras. The only problem is that he can't come more than once or twice a month. If I end up conducting in rehearsal it means I won't be able to rehearse, meaning I won't be playing the piece. (We have too many clarinets...and just added another one that we need like a hole in the we have to play in rotation.)

    We'll see how it goes.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 9:37 PM  

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