Guest Conductor Mark Shiell
Last rehearsal we were very lucky to have guest conductor Mark Shiell lead us for our zoom rehearsal.
Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italien” was the focus of the night, and Mark first introduced it to us with a short video presentation describing the inspiration (Tchaikovsky’s trip to Rome in 1880) and comparing and contrasting it with excerpts from Mikhail Glinka’s “Spanish Fantasias”, the piece it was modelled on.
Then it was into rehearsing. We practised sections, watching Mark’s conducting and playing along with a recording of our arrangement. With special attention paid to identifying the sections where watching the conductor is a must, tips for the tricky transition from Andante to Allegro, addition of accents and the exhortation of “Don’t worry about soft!” our knowledge and understanding of Capriccio Italien was greatly enhanced.
After our break and members catch-up, Mark shared with us his recent experiences of online rehearsing with Orchestra Geelong and Percy Grainger Youth Orchestra. He described techniques use to engage and extend both orchestras including using video introductions such as he had prepared for us, master classes and “listening lounges” where members present pieces they had prepared. We demonstrated our own version with Mike, our newest clarinetist, rising to our Soloist of the Week “Tchaikovsky Challenge”. Mark also suggested exercises for us to improve our sense of rhythm and encouraged us to unleash our joy of music with heart and experimentation. We finished with a discussion of ensemble playing as “not just one way traffic” from the conductor, rather communication across the orchestra using multiple sound and visual cues, and suggested YouTube clips for examples of conducting styles and conductors.
Thank you Mark, for an instructive and thought-provoking rehearsal.