The two main challenges I have encountered in DBR's The Order of an Empty Place have been counting rests and "singing" some of the solo lines. At first, rests were difficult to count because of the complex rhythmic motives happening around the ensemble. In one section, the same theme is played by four players, but each displaced by an eighth note, so they are never moving together. As with many other pieces, the more familiar we get with the piece, the more easily navigated it is. My main challenge, however, is figuring out how to "sing" the solo lines - playing them accurately both rhythmically and pitch-wise, yet gracefully. While the lines aren't particularly technically challenging, they seem to be better-suited for string players, which is not surprising, as DBR is a violinist. I am determined to meet these challenges.
I am excited to continue the rehearsal process with UMWO this week, for the premiere on Thursday, and for our trip to New York on Saturday. Although entire process will be exhausting (we have ten hours of rehearsal between Monday and Thursday), it will be rewarding to have worked as an ensemble with a well-known artist and and up and coming composer. Much of the music we perform is by composers who are no longer living. It is an honor to work with a living composer, as we can receive immediate feedback and learn more about the personal aspects of the work.
Playing this new premiere piece by Daniel Bernard Roumain has been a very interesting experience. As the 3rd horn player, I play the first notes of the piece. By myself. Just a solo horn line, soon to be followed by some speaking text. You might think this would be nerve-wracking, but for me I just ry and focus on getting good sound to come through the horn and try and make as much of a musical phrase out of it I can, and I really don't have any nerves. Overall the piece is very deep, and powerful, and DBR does some really cool things with his violins that I've never seen/heard done with a violin before
The DBR is an interesting piece. Technically it is very easy, but overall and musically it is very hard. The mostly simple rhythms require a lot of focus and the long stretches of rests make finding my entrances hard. But the best part of the piece is when it is put together. Each instrument has a specific role to play and the way that each line matches up is truly interesting. The hardest part, for me, are the religious chants. I am not a very religious person, so when DBR makes us recite those lines, I am kind of uneasy. It's hard not because of the timing, but just because I have a hard time putting my faith in a higher being. These moments really require me to focus on getting the job done, and not over thinking the meaning of the words. The other hard part is just the duration of the piece. My slightly ADHD mind has a hard time focusing on long pieces. The extended measures of rest also test my mental focus. My favorite part of the piece is at the end when you hear just the synthesizer, two flutes, a bass drum, and the electric violin. Just the way everything works together just is incredible. I enjoy the fact that DBR improvises his part and each run has a unique feel. That excitement from not knowing what's next is what makes the ending such an incredible experience.