Posted by Stephanie Davis
Tuesday 4th February, 2014

The past week of AYO February has been a stunner. It has involved lots of rehearsals, some very hot Adelaide weather, and the traditional ‘AYO Dinner’ at Baba Gallery…a coincidental pun on the ‘Baba Yaga’ movement from the Mussorgsky in our upcoming concert!

Sections became efficient teams quite quickly in the rehearsal process, and individual instrument tutorials and sectionals helped us to improve with speed. Tutorials and sectionals are always very helpful, as you get to hear how yourself and those around you fit together musically in a small setting, so that once you move to the full orchestra, you know what to listen for amidst the array of sounds, so there is more accuracy as a result. We were also under the keen direction of professionals on our instruments who gave us much needed advice. Some sections in the orchestra had it from the start though – a shout-out must be given to the flutes for the opening of the Smetena. Very impressive indeed! The vibe is very relaxed this season, as it feels like there are quite a few experienced players, and personalities are gelling well too.

James Judd (our esteemed conductor) is very well respected in the orchestra, and I think that has a lot to do with his humility and reciprocation of respect for us; we are a team. He is very wisely making sure not to overwork the pieces so they are still crisp in performance on Thursday, and to ensure we don’t peak too soon. At the same time however, he is still rehearsing things with the critical aim of accuracy and stunning musicality. James often speaks about images to get us inspired to achieve musical ideas, and has many methods for improvement. For Sunday afternoon’s rehearsal, he got every person to move to an entirely new position in the orchestra for the Mussorgsky. It was hilarious fun! Apart from being utterly ridiculous, with a blazing trumpet right up the front, and violinists way back in the percussion section, it caused us to listen out and hear new parts, and to take note of where we individually fit into the fabric of the orchestra at different times. Just for another bit of fresh excitement from James, today we will read through Mahler 5! Playing through music not featured in the concert is a move to keep us alert and focused amidst the repetition of rehearsal. The horns are champing at the bit to get into it!

As far as which piece is the best so far, I enjoy the Mussorgsky the most as the 4th horn part is such a blast to play, and the piece has so much variation in it that it’s really quirky and fun to listen to. There are also many beautiful solos, so it’s a great opportunity to witness some classy skill from my fellow musicians! James Morrison arrives tomorrow to rehearse the Koehne trumpet concerto with us, and that will be a sight to behold indeed…the brass simply can’t wait!


-  Stephanie Davis (Horn)