We’ve picked the final piece for the Spring concert for Highlands Chamber Orchestra — it’s going to be Night on Bald Mountain. I wanted an epic show closer to get the audience on its feet. I was pursuing a piano concerto kind of piece but there’s not enough time to prepare one with the soloist I was trying to recruit. The HCO’s board and I bantied around a few ideas …. Die Meistersinger was a possibility. But I got a recommendation from a string player to do Bald Mountain. How could I say no? 🙂
NoBM has a little special place in my heart. I played it ages ago with the Ottawa Youth Orchestra. It was so much fun. I first heard it on my CD of Mussorgsky’s Picture at an Exhibition with the Montreal Symphony and Dutoit so I was really happy to have a chance to play it. And now I get to experience from the front of the orchestra.
To tell you the truth, I had looked quickly at NoBM because of it being a convenient one-movement symphonic poem with full orchestration (and well-known from Disney’s Fantasia) and thought the string parts were murder. I even thought the piece might be too bang-crash-boom for a good performance. i.e. it can very easily be overblown and plain old loud. But I’ve quickly reconsidered that point of view. Like with Sorcerer’s Apprentice last Spring, we have a few months to really perfect this and do really well with it. Yeah, it’s dramatic, but I think we can invoke a demonic feeling while still being musical about it (conducting has really changed my view on dynamics and balance). This is going to be a great learning and growing piece for the orchestra and for me. I can’t wait to dig into our first reading this Friday.