Synergy represented by:

Amanda Morrison, Julia Batchelor, Katy Hill, Micaela Haslam

L-R: Amanda Morrison, Julia Batchelor, Katy Hill, Micaela Haslam

“After one “brush-up” rehearsal in London a couple of days before the concert, we headed to Birmingham for London Sinfonietta’s second 2011 performance of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.  I received a call from London Sinfonietta the day before the concert to say that they were short of a speaker at the pre-concert talk in Symphony Hall.  Tal Rosner had been asked to discuss his collaboration with Thomas Adès in In Seven Days, but it turned out that he wouldn’t be at this concert after all.  Understandably, the piano soloist Nicholas Hodges wanted the time before the concert to prepare for the performance, which was being recorded for a CD – so, would I mind discussing the Reich?  Delighted, of course!

The piece is about this long!

Having coached the piece several times now, with a variety of ensembles, and having performed it around 80 times in concert (many with Steve Reich in the ensemble, and even more with Steve Reich on the sound desk), I like to think that I know the piece just about as well as anybody could, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to share some of my knowledge and enthusiasm with the audience.  I hope those who came to the talk enjoyed the performance more as a result.  I have to say, it is sometimes nice to be given some pointers in respect of how to listen to a piece.  Music for 18 is perfectly accessible without a pre-concert talk, of course, but I do think that a little insight can enhance the experience of a live performance.  Anyway, I really enjoyed tackling Andrew Burke’s questions, and some from the audience, and I was really touched by all the generous feedback.

The whole team in concert

Stage right

Symphony Hall was quite different from Glasgow City Halls.  It was probably a more suitable venue for this piece, as the huge sound needs a lot of space.  Every venue has its own challenges, both for the players and for the sound engineer.  To my ears, the biggest problem is always getting enough of the front octet in the mix.  The bass clarinets shouldn’t really sound like bass clarinets – more like a train coming through a tunnel!  Still, the concert was really well received and it feels as though the Sinfonietta players are becoming more and more “at home” with the piece.  Rumour has it that we might have another Music for 18 in the pipeline with LS later this year.  Watch this space….”


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