Guilford College went to a great deal of trouble planning interesting things for families to do this weekend. We ended up doing none of them. We almost got a few bites at the President’s Luncheon, but then the child called just as we sat down to tell us his rugby game had been canceled and he did want to go get something to eat. Fortunately Kent (the college president, we’re all on first name basis here at this Quaker-affiliated institution) had already finished his speech, so we didn’t have to get up in the middle of it after having just come in late.
They also had some kind of entertainment lined up for the evening, but the child’s Music in Contemporary Society teacher had a stack of comp tickets for the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, so he snagged three for us. And that’s where we went.
So today I didn’t create anything myself, but I got to hear a competent orchestra play Shostakovich’s 1st, which I had never heard live before. Shostakovich is one of my favorite composers, his 100th birthday is next Saturday, and hearing his first symphony gave me a chance to listen and think about orchestration. And try not to think too much that he wrote it when he was 19.
Did I learn anything about orchestration? I think so. I think I need to remain aware that small ensembles within the orchestra can carry pretty heavy loads, that it’s preferable to tickle the audience with smaller sounds most of the time. Of course, with William Blake, that’s probably goes without saying, since it’s a small orchestra to begin with, but it’s something I need to keep in mind if/when I begin on my own first symphony.