Guest blog post by Ryan O’Shea, deviser / performer, on waiting to perform Concerto with a full orchestra.
It is Friday the 27 October 2017 and tomorrow we will perform Concerto accompanied by the University of Leicester Orchestra & Knighton Chamber Orchestra. I am struggling to contain my excitement. Yesterday, I was talking to someone who watched our work in progress show in Lincoln, I was explaining how much the show had changed but also how the dynamic of the performance will shift when we present the show with a full orchestra.‘That will be incredible’ he said, ‘The music was powerful enough with Nicholas McCarthy playing on his own, I can only imagine what an orchestra will feel like’. His words played in my head for the rest of the day as I really thought about the scale of what we are doing and tried to imagine what it would feel like.
The orchestra will be made up of 50-60 musicians from the University of Leicester Orchestra and and Knighton Chamber Orchestra and will be conducted by Paul Jenkins. We had the pleasure of seeing the musicians rehearse the music in a tiny room in the university grounds. We sat in the corner and watched intently as the musicians took great care over their individual instruments. I’d never seen so many instruments of varying shapes and sizes so close before. Then a hush grew as Paul stood at the front of the room, capturing the attention of everyone immediately. They then played Ravel’s Concerto Pour la Main Gauche (Concerto for the Left Hand). The piece of music we have heard hundreds of times. The piece of music that inspired Michael Pinchbeck to make the performance. The piece of music played in two equal parts of solo piano and orchestra. It sounded like nothing I had heard before.
Normally when we present Concerto, at the end, we hear a recorded version of the first minute of orchestra then Nicholas McCarthy plays the piano section of the Concerto. He leaves small gaps, indicating the moments where the orchestra would normally play. Watching him play at the end of every show has been incredibly powerful, he is a wonderful musician who really captures the narratives we have been presenting in the performance.When we watched the orchestra, they rehearsed without Nicholas. They too left small gaps indicating when Nicholas would begin playing the solo piano. We will not see both parts come together until the day of the performance. This only adds to excitement for me, the uniqueness of what we are attempting to do here.
After performing the show a few times and rehearsing this project recently, I feel comfortable with our part of the performance. But it has struck me, that there are three parts to what we will present in Leicester. The orchestra, the solo piano and the theatrical performance. There are three characters we focus on in the performance: Maurice Ravel, Paul Wittgenstein and Gavrilo Princip. The conductor, the pianist and the assassin. There are three movements to every piece of music; The Exposition, the Development and the Recapitulation. Three parts will come together for the first time tomorrow. It will be a one of a kind exploration for everyone involved. The scale has kept me excited for weeks and now as I sit in a café in Leicester, I am going through the performance in my head, imagining the power the orchestra will bring.
There is a line of text that is said in Concerto. ‘When you hear the Orchestra, it is like the sea crashing over you’, when we watched the orchestra rehearse that day, we all felt the power the sea, we all felt the power of the music, I hope audiences tomorrow will feel this power too.
Images: Julian Hughes