Inside the Houston Symphony

Taking you behind the music–one concert at a time!

Private rehearsals a real treat for donors

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Associate Conductor Robert Franz was a hit during the Pink Martini private rehearsal on April 29.

As I scroll through the past blogs of my colleagues, trying to move past the writer’s block that I am having, I can’t help but notice how great and intimate the blogs are.  Of course, you’re probably thinking that this is a really biased opinion. But seriously, we have done a pretty good job with giving you the inside scoop of what happens within this organization.  If you like these blogs, you would definitely enjoy our private rehearsals.

Thursday, April 29 was the final private rehearsal for the 2009-10 season. There is no better way to connect with the Houston Symphony than to go to our private rehearsals.  Throughout the year, we have 5 rehearsals that are opened exclusively for our Houston Symphony donors who donate $100 or more to our annual fund.  Three out of the five private rehearsals are for upcoming classical performances. However, the other two rehearsals are part of the Pops series. Since Samantha already gave you the scoop on what the rehearsals are in her blog a few weeks ago, I won’t bore you with any more technical details.

This private rehearsal featured the music that was played for the Woodlands performance and the first half of the Pink Martini concert this past weekend.  Conducting the concert was our very personable and quirky family and education concerts conductor Robert Franz.  The pieces performed during these concerts hold special significance, as Franz explains to the audience before the rehearsal starts, because they are tribute to Houston icon and arts philanthropist Cynthia Woods Mitchell.

The rehearsal began its very festive and exciting­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ journey through great works of opera with Overture to Die Zauberflöte.  The spirit of the music continued with the Triumphal March from Aida, and then we settled in to stay a while in Spanish territory (as portrayed by French composer George Bizet) with five selections from the opera Carmen.  After the first piece, I knew that I was going to be in heaven because I absolutely love opera.  It was so great to hear some of the best and most well-known opera scores played by the Symphony.  We rounded up our trip through the opera world with the Overture to Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld). The rehearsal was completed with selections from Evita, Flying to Rio, and Tchaikovsky’s Capricio Italien.

Robert worked hard to complete the program without an intermission, but he gave audience members and the musicians a break before conducting the Tchaikovsky.  I decided that this would be a perfect chance to mingle with a few of their patrons and get some reactions to the music.

I first approached Ms. Debra Ortega, guest of our patron John Beury.  Debra occasionally accompanies John to the private rehearsals.  She has been to a few classical concerts but this was her first Pops performance.  When I asked her what she thought of the rehearsal, she said that she really liked it.  She confessed that the classical music she normally hears when she comes to the rehearsals didn’t really appeal to her. “It moves a little too slowly, and I have to admit I have fallen asleep before”.  However, she liked this rehearsal because the music is upbeat and exciting.

Niki Demaio has been a contributor and subscriber of the Houston Symphony for about 5 years now.   When I asked her and her guests their opinion about the show, they had a lot to say.  “I have been to a lot of private rehearsals and this one was one of the best.  This is actually my first time seeing Robert Franz conduct a performance and he is so personable and inviting.  He gave a speech at the beginning to give us a little background about the concert and introduced each piece as it was being played.  Also, when he gave notes to the orchestra you could actually hear him.  A lot of the conductors speak in hushed tones during the other rehearsals that I have been to and it’s really hard to hear what’s going on.  Because Franz spoke loudly, I felt like he was inviting us into the conversation, and it wasn’t some big secret.  It really makes a difference when you engage with the audience.

“I always try to bring my friends with me when I go, and one of things my friend Jane likes about going to the rehearsal is hearing the process of what happens when you work on a piece.  During the first run through she will try to listen for mistakes.  After the conductor has given his notes and runs through it again, she listens out for the changes that were made and how the piece is making its way toward perfection.”

So it seems that our last private rehearsal was a success.  Even though it was a smaller turnout because it is the one daytime rehearsal we open to the public, all the patrons left musically fulfilled and excited about going to next year’s private rehearsals.  It is never too late to join in on the experience for next year.  Just contact any of the Patron Services Specialists in the Development Department, and we will be happy to assist you.

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Written by jessicajf

May 10, 2010 at 9:56 am

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