Way back in May of 2008, I remarked on the first night of rehearsal with the Edinburgh Symphony. Well, last night I was treated (if that's the right word) to yet another rehearsal of my music (as conductor) with the Boulder Symphony Orchestra. Interesting how similar and yet very different these rehearsals were. I learned from that first rehearsal to write in reminder accidentals. My string writing in Exchanging Glances is much stronger than when I first wrote "You Can't Catch Rabbit's With Drums." Phrases, bow marking and use of divisi is much better.
However, my music is more rhythmically intense now. "Rabbit's" is pretty strong rhythmically, but Exchanging Glances is quite a bit more difficult. The way the rhythms shift within the meter is more subtle and thus much more difficult to handle both as a conductor and as a performer.
It was the musicians first glance at the music last night and they did extremely well handling all the off rhythm elements --much better than I did with the shifting meter. I handle a quick 5/8 pretty well, but ask me to slow it down to a Largo tempo and I hopeless.
What I walked away feeling was simply the music was possible. There isn't anything striking that seemed impossible, although there are certainly a few places that the musicians are going to need to work on to make sure they are played correctly. Perhaps a major orchestra would have done with a first reading, but I'm not convinced even they would grasp the shifts in rhythm right out of the gate. Exchanging Glances is a deceptively difficult piece. It requires the musicians and conductor to be constantly thinking through out the 10 minutes, yet it sounds so delightfully simple to the ear.
Here's hoping Boulder Symphony Orchestra and Devin Hughes can translate that simplicity to their audience on November 13th.