Up Close with the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Today a friend and I got the chance to see a bit of what happens before the curtain goes up at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The BSO held an open rehearsal of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, conducted by Music Director Andris Nelsons.
A pair of crabby ladies shooed us from their seats, but—thank you, Karma—our correct seats turned out to be even impossibly better, two rows up and just one row from the conductor’s wobbly-ish podium and the cellists’ section. I could see the notes on Maestro Nelsons’ score, and on the cellists’, all of whom I noticed wore their wedding bands on their right hands – their bow hands.
I was close enough to watch the cellists breathe in unison as they answered the French horns.
When a musician sneezed during a performance, I could hear Nelsons say, “Bless you!”
And: “From 109, it’s a fortissimo più pesante”…“Play this more introverted”…I could see the first violist flush bright pink and say, “Ugh! Sorry! So sorry about that!” when she flubbed a note.
In an orchestra, each player does their part to complete a more wonderful and satisfying whole. It’s surreal to sit and listen to live orchestral music swirling around you, then open your eyes and see rather ordinary-looking people performing magical, impossible sounds – How do they do it?!
It’s good to close your eyes and listen more closely to music, but it’s also nice to be able to see what’s being done and by who. I could feel my brain expanding as I sat and listened, eyes open and shut, for over two hours to Mahler’s complex and extremely technical masterpiece.
And then, just like that—in one final swirling crescendo—it was over.
I’d like to catch the next public rehearsal in January, when the BSO will be performing Mozart.
Wonderful article, Jen! You have a magical way with words. I felt like I was there! Being in the theater business, I sometimes think it is even more enjoyable to be there during the making and creative part. So appreciative of what goes into it before the final production or finished piece!
Thank you, Joanie! I’ve always envied your back-stage access to the best shows in Boston – this is the closest I’ll get to living your glamorous showbiz life! 🙂 hugs, Jen
So good to read your words again, Jennifer. Thank you for an inspiring piece. Considering the music and conductor, I started thinking about the Swedish film “As It Is in Heaven.” Do you know it?
Thank you, Andrew! It’s good to be back. I haven’t heard of it but I bet my mom has, she’s seen everything! I’ll have to ask her, and check it out. Thanks for the tip! Looks like it’s gonna be movie time this weekend.
I read this on fb, love it…,good to see your blog writing again.
Thank you so much, it feels good to be back…hadn’t felt up to it until now 😘😘
Thanks for this look at Symphony close up. Its an interesting inside glimpse of what goes on. hugs, Karen
Hi Karen! It was so healing and inspiring to be there it got me blogging again. ❤️ blessings, Jen
Jennifer I am Helena’s friend. I have been to the BSO rehearsals. I agree! Great experience. There are travel groups from the Cape that feature bus travel. A great perk!
I share your enthusiasm. Thanks.
Hi Barbara! Thank you – I’m feeling thankful to live so close to so many great places like the BSO.
Thank you, Jen, for another beautiful piece of your mind and experience! I love your writing and the reminder of how many wonderful resources we have in this city of ours. I’m definitely going for the Mozart – so glad you mentioned the next opportunity.
awww, thank you so much for that wonderful note of support on this cold and rainy Monday! I’ll have to get to the Mozart if you’re gonna be there xoxo