SoNA live blog: recap

It's break time, and the stage empties except for a few string players who want to perfect one section of the Elgar.  I'm always amazed at how musicians can just summon the emotion of a piece immediately, no matter where they are in the music.

Here are all of the posts for the first half of the rehearsal, in chronological order.

Hey all - here I am I at the SoNA dress rehearsal - thought we'd try a little live blogging experiment.  I'm not going to give anything away (even though I am on the prowl to hear one of those vaunted "secrets" that Maestro Paul Haas is always teasing us about). 

So we've begun, and the WAC tech crew is working to make the show look good, so there was some discussion about lights (the stage looks amazing), and now we begin.

Did you know that a dress rehearsal for an orchestra actually entails everone being in concert dress? For some reason, I never knew this, even though it would make sense.  The Maestro is in tails, the orchestra in dress blacks.

Ah, those first chords of the Marriage of Figaro - how can you not grin when you hear them?  I tend to hear them most with the rocking sounds of a full band behind them (I'm a huge East Village Opera fan - don't judge), but hearing it without electric guitars is a neat experience.

Maestro Haas is enjoying the fun of this piece, you can tell - he's got a big smile on his face. So do I.  :)

10:21 am - Much shifting of chairs and people is ensuing as they get ready for the next piece.  The crew is moving some equipment as the violas work on a few notes with Maestro Haas.

Sebastian, the cello soloist, just appeared and the orchestra, who's hands are full with their instruments, did that whole "stomping of feet = applause" thing.  I love that.

10:25 - tuning begins, and I'm about to hear the Elgar piece for the first time.  I love cello. I can't wait.

If you're wondering what I'm talking about - here's a link to SoNA's website - where you can download the program notes for tonight's show.  2nd link from the top on the right.

10:28 - wow, this piece is amazing.  I almost want to leave so i can be surprised tonight, but I'll suffer through.  :)  I think (and please keep in mind that I'm a classical music novice with no training in musicology) that the cello is the most human sounding of the string instruments - I always hear emotion in it.  And then you add the huge, swelling sound of a full orchestra behind

10:36 - Sorry, I got distracted there for a moment by the music.  I'm not going to give away anything because I want you to see the show, but I can say that the Elgar piece is full of changing emotions and dynamics.  Sebastian is pretty incredible to my ear.

10:39 - I always like to see what the tech crew does with the stage - and at the moment, I'm seeing warm fall colors and some gorgeous flowers in reds and oranges.  In the spring, the flowers were green and purple, but they definitely have a fall feeling to them.

10:40 - oh, more music.  I'm not sure what movement they are on (I missed hearing it), but this is the aching, soulful portion of the programming.  There's some yearning and memory in this music.  Sigh.  :)

Ok, a quick search and read of the program notes indicates we're into the Adagio movement (Adagio from the Italian meaning "at ease"), the slow movement.  In the notes, it's described as 'soulful' and 'a private lament."  Very true.

10:49 - it occurs to me that I ought to make a shameless plug for ticket sales to tonight's show, though I'd really rather just focus on the music.  But anyway - here it is: tickets can be bought at or by calling 479-443-5600.

Ok, back to the music - we're into the 4th movement of the Elgar.  This movement is a long one, almost as long as the previous three, and it's beginning with a big sounds, passionate and upbeat, lots of tossing of the melody back and forth between the soloist and the different sections.

But then, as promised, you start to hear hints of lament coming back.  It's like the composer doesn't want to let you get too excited.

I just read that this piece is really hard for the soloist.  Sebastian seems to be up to the job, and then some.

Whew. Piece complete.  I just let out a huge breath.  Applause from the musicians and the few of us in the house.  :)