From the Orchestra Library

A Few Days to Regroup

Posted in Uncategorized by kschnack on May 29, 2009
Library work counter under summer seige!

Library work counter under summer seige!

With the orchestra out of the hall for parks concerts and no more rehearsals for another week, the library has a brief breather in which to regroup. We have already “unstuffed” the folders for the final classics and pops season programs, put away the works we own and sent back rental materials (if those are not returned to the publisher quickly, within a week or two, fees are charged and that can really add up). We have also made considerable headway on the remaining summer programs, but find ourselves spending many days putting together two lengthy and complicated pops programs for our Vail residency that occur over the July 4th weekend. Luckily, a couple of the other programs for the festival have already been rehearsed or performed so the folders are ready for those.

Nevertheless, we can’t really let up yet. Back-up sets and scores for the major works that will go out on tour have to be acquired and prepared. An emergency program has to be readied to cover for any number of possible situations — a guest artist that cancels, a conductor that becomes ill, a last-minute program change due to events as yet unknown. Encores have to be determined and prepared. In the meantime, planning and preparation for next season has to be fully underway by June so that we can be ready for September. To that end, we are already placing orders for music rental and purchase of next season’s repertoire, pulling materials we own to assess what needs to be done for each set, ordering extra scores as needed for the conductors, finding out what the string size will be for each program so we mark the right number of parts, and giving the first stand parts to the concertmaster and principal strings so they can check bowings. All of this has to be done well in advance or there is no chance of success later on.

Oh yeah, and it’s also time to clean up the library — once a year, whether it needs it or not…….. It should be declared a disaster in there!



Posted in Uncategorized by kschnack on May 28, 2009

Some of the orchestra players have been spotted staring at the bulletin board where we post the upcoming repertoire as if in a trance, eyes glazed, trying to keep all the programs  straight.  This is not unlike what the librarians have been doing for the past month in the library, only there we call it “The Wall of Fear”.  By now, our list has gotten shorter and the orchestra’s has gotten much longer, so the reality is beginning to set in.   It was reported that one player read the list of folders out loud (to no one in particular) and another took a picture.  That inspired me to show you these lists so you could also enjoy the moment.  Photo credit: Amy Wagliardo, DSO Director of Operations Keeping the Folders Straight150 Pieces in 6 Weeks!

Just when you thought the season was safely over……

Posted in Uncategorized by kschnack on May 26, 2009

…..It’s Memorial Day!  In our orchestra that means only one thing – the summer season has begun, starting with outdoor parks concerts.  There’s a feeling of accomplishment, and, yes, relief, when we reach the end of the regular season as we did only 48 hours ago.  Like many other orchestras, the Dallas Symphony ends with a bang (literally – this time 1812), using the combined forces of a large instrumentation, soloist and full chorus.  After nine months of intense performances, the 2008-09 season was memorable for many reasons, not the least of which because it was the first year with a new music director.  We successfully made it through all the weeks and months of challenges and it feels good to arrive at the end with most of our sanity intact.

But there won’t be time yet for a while to enjoy the sense of satisfaction that goes with getting all the right music in the right place at the right time for a whole season.  Because now we go into the real crunch for our orchestra, performing some 20 different programs with over 150 pieces in the space of six weeks.  The exponential escalation in the amount of repertoire we go through during the summer is largely because we shift to doing only one concert for most of the programs – “one-offs” –  as opposed to repeating programs two, three or four times.  For the library, the craziness began already several months ago as repertoire was being decided and we started ordering music, organizing sets of materials we have on hand, entering works information in our repertoire database, and attacking the seemingly endless stream of parts to check, repair, mark, put into folders and have ready for the orchestra early enough so they could practice.  No sooner is one program folder filled, then another goes into production. Complications have included three different conductors programming the same piece (for which we only have one set that has to be moved around with little time between concerts), preparing for a six-program residency out of state, the inevitable program changes after parts have been put out, and some pops programs that include 15-25 pieces, each with its own set of issues related to a soloist or chorus or cuts or new ending or………..fireworks.

The Memorial Day concert is one of the latter of course, but despite all of the work it takes to put it together, I think it’s one of our most important concerts.  These outdoor events around the city bring us close to audiences who might not otherwise hear the orchestra, and there seems to be a great need for the patriotic programs these days.  Tonight, after weeks of cloudy and rainy weather, the conditions have turned out to be mostly perfect (well, not including the bugs).  There are thousands of people here at a place called Flagpole Hill (the highest point in Dallas that has a huge American flag waving from the hill), singing along with the chorus as they pay tribute to the US service men and women around the world.  It’s a pretty good reason to have a concert.

15 pieces down, 135 to go!

From the Orchestra Library

Posted in Uncategorized by kschnack on May 21, 2009

This is a new blog about life in the orchestra library.  Stay tuned for regular updates about what it’s like to keep the music playing — starting with Memorial Day concerts and gearing up for the summer season!