Thursday, March 25, 2010

String Orchestra of Brooklyn

Last Saturday night, I had a piece premiered by the String Orchestra of Brooklyn. It was a piece I wrote especially for them entitled 'The Last Rose': a set of 'variations' on the melody of a traditional Irish song titled 'The Last Rose of Summer'. I enjoyed being in New York and this was my first official NYC premiere! That is, if you count Brooklyn as New York City, which I would. Hoboken, I'm not so sure. Yonkers, definitely not. But Brooklyn Heights is right across the river. In fact, NYC was so close that this was the view from the end of the street that the performance space resided. I couldn't have asked for more beautiful days!
I spent time hanging out with friends, spent a birthday-day with J, and went to the Cloisters, relaxing in their Medieval art collection...until I set off a blazing alarm by pointing at something which was almost two feet away. I work in a museum, people, I know not to get my greasy hands on the Joseph Campin.
D got us got comp tickets to Sondheim on Sondheim, a revue of songs tied to the composer's life, using video, vintage footage, interviews, and a crazy rotating set of TVs. Hearing music from so many shows made me want to see Sondheim's 'Sunday in the Park with George'. And not see 'Sweeney Todd'. Well, at least D has a job arranging and working on music parts to theatre productions, and I also saw Michael Urie cheering on Vanessa Williams. He has strikingly good hair. Vanessa's hair is just okay.
Rehearsals and the concert for the string piece took place in the church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity, which is about the most ghettofabulous place I've had a piece performed. By ghettofabulous I mean it was the most well-worn, squeaky-doored, sinking-floored cathedral, and yet also ridiculously ornate. The entryway had the tightest Gothic-carved wooden spiral staircase I've ever seen–even I wondered if I'd be able to climb it, and I'm pretty svelte. I was very impressed.
The alter/concert space was thusly bejeweled, and the orchestra looked quite snazzy.
The performance of the piece was quite good, considering this is a community orchestra. They are all volunteers! Some of them devote a lot of time and energy into the group and I totally applaud that. A couple people had some pitch issues and rhythm issues (not owing to the difficultly of the piece, which was quite moderate), but it all came together for the concert. And so resonant! The program was varied, short but sweet, and included works by Josh Penman, Josh Feltman, and Judd Greenstein. The SoB also seem to have worked out good deals with the price of the venue and people's involvement in pitching in with poster-hanging, ticket sales, baked-goods-buying, etc.
Afterward I went for drinks at a Brooklyn hipster hangout, which was even trashier than Pittsburgh's hipster hangouts, and this one had an indoor Bocce Ball area. It was a good time. Eli, the conductor of the orchestra, and I found out that we have the same glasses.
Curiously artsy!
I'm glad to be back in Pittsburgh, as New York is so expensive and I have more work to do. But it was but it was such a good time and hope to be going back soon. Maybe for another commission? Or a well-paying job? ... Any takers? ... Well, I'll be around if you need me.

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