We’re doing the John Adams Chamber Symphony in a couple of weeks. Not only is it a very dense-looking viola part, but apparently there are only three or four solo string players. This will call for some serious time spent operating the viola at home.

In the past, I’d simply work on the part as best I could in isolation…

If I had a recording, I’d listen to it (although, if I’d had a
recording, I’d already know it well enough not to have to listen to
it). But it would be too much trouble to go find a recording,
especially as it’s not the kind of piece one would expect to find in
the classical bin (or classical letter box) at Best Buy.

But now… I start up iTunes, go to the iTunes Music Store,
search for "John Adams Chamber Symphony," purchase the three tracks for
$2.97, download them, synch up my iPhone… and I’m all set. Took all of three minutes, and (unlike going to Best Buy) was kinda fun too.

When we negotiated the Internet Agreement between the AFM and the major
managers media committee in 2000, I was insistent that one of the most
powerful effects of the Internet on us would be the instant
availability of tons and tons of recording and repertoire (I was also
monomaniacal on how downloading was going to be dominant over
streaming.) It’s not often in my life that I can say "I told you so"
without qualification. But there was an existing model, so I was less a
prophet than a good observer. The model was the online font market that
Adobe runs and that I had used when I edited Senza Sordino for
ICSOM. The ability to browse fonts online, and to have immediate access
to whatever one needed, was a powerful experience. I thought it might
work the same way for music once there was sufficient bandwidth to make
downloads feasible for enough people. I was right.

On a completely different subject, Michael Hovnanian, who plays bass in an unnamed orchestra that works in a hall 98.3 miles south of us by road, tells a very funny bass story. I like bass stories a lot more than I like viola jokes.


3 Responses to “iCram”

  1. Charles Noble Says:

    We’re doing the Adams at the beginning of February – how many rehearsals (or portions thereof) are you getting? I’m just understudying for my principal, but the piece is getting one full rehearsal and the dress. I heard that Atlanta and several full rehearsals for just the Adams alone.

  2. Robert Levine Says:

    It looks as if we’re getting one 2.5 hour and 1 2 hour rehearsal. While the piece doesn’t appear easy, it doesn’t sound too problematic from the ensemble point of view – very few rythmic curves. But lots of hard stuff, especially for the poor violinist (never thought I’d say *that*.

  3. Charles Noble Says:

    They just added an additional portion of a rehearsal for added time. True, it’s one of those pieces which hurts to prepare, but if you do it right the piece just sort of plays itself…hopefully!

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