Sharon Robinson (Indiana Univ. photo)
Musicians say the first performance of a new piece of music is kind of like of like giving birth. That’s the case with the Sacramento Philharmonic which premiers a new concerto this weekend.
The first performance of a new piece of music is kind of like the birth of a baby – until it happens, no one is entirely sure what kind of personality the new arrival will have. The Sacramento Philharmonic premieres a new concerto on Sunday, and even the composer wants to know how it will sound.
Cellist Sharon Robinson and violinist Jamie Laredo are a husband and wife team, and among the top musicians in their field. This weekend, they’re premiering a brand new concerto. And locating the musical personality in a new score is an adventure. Robinson and Laredo started learning their solo parts six months ago. The first step was to practice individually.
Robinson: “And then we get together, the two of us…”
Laredo: “And that’s when all the fighting begins…”
Robinson: “On I wanted to do this down bow, no, this is one phrase, no, don’t you think there should be crescendo here…”
But that’s only a shakedown cruise. Robinson and Laredo know that until they rehearse with the Sacramento Philharmonic, they won’t really know what the orchestration sounds like.
Laredo: “You know, it’s going to be as big a mystery to us as it’s going to be to everyone else. Because our first rehearsal with the orchestra is going to be the first time that we will have heard the piece. I mean, we’ve been playing it with a piano. But it’s not the same, it’s really just not the same.”
Robinson knows that even the first rehearsal is only an indication.
Robinson: “Even until you get on stage at the concert with the audience and everything, that’s when you kind of start getting a feeling of what the piece is all about.”
You could compare a new concerto to a new baby. During pregnancy, you can take ultrasound pictures, you can do amniocentesis, and those will provide some facts. But you really won’t know about the baby’s personality until you’re holding that little bundle of love in your arms.
Speaking of babies, when Jeff Hudson called composer Daron Aric Hagen in New York, Hagen said that his wife is exceedingly pregnant, due to give birth to their first child any minute now. So Hagen is actually going to miss the first performance of his concerto on Sunday.
Hagen: “Yes, unfortunately, it’s due to be premiered on the same day my baby is.”
Hudson: “Well, I think you’ve got the best excuse in the world.”
Hagen: “Yes, it’s a lot better than ‘The dog ate my homework.’”
Just to give you a sense of what kind of music Daron Aric Hagen writes, listen to the story for a sample of a different concerto, one he wrote four years ago.