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Posted by Christopher Jones at 11:33PM   |  Add a comment

To date, the Symphony Orchestra has had just over two weeks of rehearsals on the Verdi Requiem (without soloists and choir).  Rehearsing a work such as this is difficult without the vocalists because many of the orchestra parts are purely accompanimental.  Without hearing the melody on top of the texture, it can be difficult to understand the music’s true sound and phrasing. 

An additional challenge when performing a choral and orchestral work is interpreting and conveying the spiritual and emotional intentions of the composer. Unlike a choir, which communicates a specific text, an orchestra must express feelings, emotions, or events through sound alone.  However, in a choral work with a specific libretto—words/lyrics—the orchestra must be aware of what the choir or soloist is singing, as the orchestra’s job is to support and enhance this message.  Furthermore, given Verdi’s operatic style of writing, the music has an especially intimate and dramatic relationship with the libretto.  Fortunately, Mr. Doebler recently gave the orchestra an analysis of the work and a full translation of the text, which deepened our understanding of the music.

Much of our early rehearsal of this work have been spent working on ensemble skills, solidifying tempi, and identifying places where the soloists might take rubato—a musical term which refers to the giving and taking of time.  This is tedious at times, but must be done to ensure a smooth transition when we begin combined rehearsals. 

Even without the vocal dimension, I am touched by the eerie beauty and expressiveness of Verdi’s writing.           

 

Christopher Jones 


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