Two performances last week and both were challenges in endurance. The first was Terry Riley’s In C with DICE (Dickinson Improvisation and Collaboration Ensemble), a new flexible-instrumentation group at the college, and Third Coast Percussion; the second was Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore.
In C with the two groups was fantastic. The performance was in the student union building right outside the cafeteria. We set up on some couches and attracted a decent audience. Clay from Third Coast played some improvised percussion that I’ll sorely miss in the future. Our performance was forty minutes long… I had the honor of playing the eighth note pulse the entire time. It’s an amazing exercise in concentration, especially since percussion is not something I’m accustomed to performing in concert.
It was my first time playing this Mozart. Actually prior to this week I didn’t know it existed. And that’s a shame. It’s a fine piece that obviously contains ideas Mozart would use in his Mass in C Minor and his Requiem. (Side note: during my first three years in school at Eastman the orchestra director insisted on programming less significant works from the repertoire. Instead of performing Britten’s War Requiem we played his Sinfonia da Requiem; instead of Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem we played Nänie and Alto Rhapsody; instead of a Stravinsky ballet we played Symphony of Psalms. It upset a lot of students who wanted to get to know the warhorses better. In hindsight, I’m happy I got to experience those [fantastic!] lesser known works as it gave me a chance to learn each composer’s style beyond the standard repertoire.)
Knowing about the piece earlier would have also have better prepared me for the high note-athon. Like the other Mozart choral works the alto trombone doubles the alto voices, only in this case more exactly. It amounts to thirty minutes of nonstop playing in the upper register.