June 14: Day 2, soundOn, a new music festival at the Athenaeum, open rehearsal, evening.
Audiences should be allowed into rehearsals on a regular basis. I know that the presence of outsiders can distract the musicians from their work. Still, rehearsals are sometimes more interesting than performances, and they certainly give the audience new insights into a work as well as a heightened understanding of the musician’s talents and labor. Here is the drama of struggle, of wrestling with materials (especially with a new piece), trying sounds on for size.
As a music writer, I’ve been to several rehearsals, and I love them. I usually sit out front, especially for chamber music where space is tight, but I’ve been lucky to find myself smack dab in the middle of a symphony orchestra, among the musicians, close enough to read the score and able to watch the front of the conductor.
So tonight, I’m here in the Athenaeum, as four composers and the members of NOISE, the resident ensemble for San Diego New Music, rehearse the works they will perform at the festival’s final concert on Saturday night. As usual, everyone is dressed down in jeans, sandals, whatever. But the rehearsal is all business.
One by one the composers, sitting in the front row, scores open across their laps, listen to the musicians play their creations. Because most of the composers are from out of town, so this is the first — and only — time that the composers and performers will work together. Every minute counts.
The collaborative style is identical from composer to composer. Their voices are gentle, praising the musicians then asking for some changes. It’s a process where both learn, and the tiniest detail is not overlooked.