|Click here to see video highlights of last weekend’s 6 Day Bender and Sarah White show at Satellite Ballroom.|
A few minutes before 7:30pm on a Wednesday evening, and Feedback is staring at a sea of tangled bows and brass on the stage of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Performing Arts Center. A cacophony of around 125 players, the sum of the Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra of Charlottesville-Albemarle, floods our ears as instruments are primed and tuned. At 7:29, the din dies down and CUSO conductor Kate Tamarkin steps to the podium to begin this educational joint rehearsal of Gustav Holst’s The Planets.
Last week, the eager youngsters and experienced pros sat side by side for a joint rehearsal of the Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra of Charlottesville-Albemarle.
What we’re listening to
“Superstar,” by Sonic Youth (Carpenters cover from Juno: Music from the Motion Picture)—Karen Carpenter’s pristine love song gets the trademark SY fuzz treatment, along with a deafening piano note that will rock each chamber of your fragile heart.
“Dead Flowers,” by Caitlin Rose (from Dead Flowers EP)—Thank you, Internet, for leading us to this crystalline Stones cover by a 20-year-old Nashville darling.
“Cappuccino,” by The Knux (from Remind Me In 3 Days)
“Thrash Unreal,” by Against Me! (from New Wave)
This is a momentous evening, though it doesn’t look like it. Only a couple dozen parents and other onlookers are scattered around the auditorium, and the musicians, alternating between young (YOCA) and older (CUSO), are decked in whatever clothes they happened to throw on that morning rather than formal concert attire.
It’s special because it’s the first time that these two local orchestras have joined together on stage. “The toughest problem was finding a space big enough to hold the rehearsal,” CUSO bassoonist Ibby Roberts tells us. After the Performing Arts Center was secured, they had to borrow two more timpani drums from Western Albemarle High School, since UVA only had four of the six needed for the The Planets’ orchestration. They even rented a truck to transport bulky instruments like string bass and contrabassoon.
The fruits of that labor ripen, though, when Tamarkin leads the group into the opening notes of “Mars, the Bringer of War,” the first of the seven movements (each corresponding to a planet) in Holst’s piece. Over the course of a few starts and stops (this is a rehearsal, after all), the ominous and bellicose tone of the movement seeps from the group. “This piece was written before World War I,” notes Tamarkin after wrapping up “Mars.”
“Venus, the Bringer of Peace” follows with a much lighter, breezier feel. “Mercury” brings a flurry of flying notes. “The most important thing is to get the dynamics,” Tamarkin tells the group. “Get the notes if you can.” “Jupiter” is driving and mountainous. “Saturn” begins with the woodwinds mimicking time with two steady, repeating notes. Tick, tock. Tamarkin brings up her conducting student Joe Hodge to lead the group through “Uranus,” and “Neptune,” the only part where the few missing instruments show (there is no organ, celesta or female choir singing from an adjacent room, as Holst’s ambitious piece calls for), finishes out the rehearsal.
“It’s a nice enriching opportunity and it helps us make more connections with the community,” Roberts tell us. No plans have been made yet for the two orchestras to join each other for an actual concert, she says, but the evening provided the YOCA musicians with the chance to see what it’s like to play with professional musicians (it looked fun, relaxed and educational to us!). And one day, we’re sure, many of these aspiring young players will be the ones giving the advice rather than receiving it.
Such a special rehearsal isn’t the only thing going on in the sphere of local symphonic music. On Tuesday, April 22, the 80 members of the Charlottesville Municipal Band will present the group’s 86th annual spring concert at Piedmont Virginia Community College’s V. Earl Dickinson Auditorium. The concert will feature a variety of tunes, including a new piece, On Streets of Gold, by Crozet composer and assistant conductor Gary Fagan (whom Feedback remembers fondly for teaching us to play tuba and trombone back in our middle school days).
And, on Saturday, April 26, don’t miss all of the local high school and middle school marching bands stepping to the beat during the Dogwood Festival Parade.
And now for those inclined to rock. Worn in Red’s Brad Perry recently dropped us off a copy of his band’s hot-off-the-press 7" record. The band will join A Cosmonaut’s Ruin and Two Days of Freedom for a night of loud, hard tunes at Outback Lodge this Thursday, April 24. We just dropped the needle in the groove of the record’s translucent red vinyl (nice!) and skimmed over the terrific artwork. Check next week’s issue for a review. If you can’t wait that long, pick up a copy for yourself at the show.
See ya, Satellite
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