The prominent feature of our week in Oradea was the difficulty we had in sleeping! The first night was not a problem but thereafter we would wake up at 3:00, 3:30, 4:00, or 5:00 and not be able to get back to sleep. Due to our schedule we were unable to get an afternoon nap until the day of the concert! Naturally we had a good night sleep after the concert and then had to actually get up at 3:00 A.M. the next night in Budapest to catch the 6:30 flight to Amsterdam and home ! The joys of jet-lag.
This was our third time in Oradea working with the State Filharmonica there. It had been 5 years since I last guest conducted the orchestra and there were a number of changes. Most notable was the passing away of their concertmaster due to illness at the relatively young age of 62 (possibly a bit older). So they had a fine new concertmaster who was young and quite good. As always, there were missing players until the 3rd rehearsal including the 3rd horn, harp, and tuba. Given only four rehearsals total for the concert, this was a bit concerning but not surprising. I am happy to report they were not a problem in their performance of the music. The orchestra is quite responsive and able to make great nuances happen in the music. The concert was an unusual one as it contained all unheard music in Romania except for the Mozart - my own Northwest Triptych began the program followed by Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate and then the premiere of Lacul, a song composed by my host Romeo Rimbu; the Stanford Symphony No. 4 in F closed the concert.
Musically the concert was a great success (in spite of the sleep problems). Although there were some small trouble spots in my Northwest Triptych and not quite enough ability to swing the jazz waltz at the end, the orchestra performed it extremely well with great attention to the details we had rehearsed. Linda sang the Mozart wonderfully as always. It's a work she has performed a number of times over the years in many parts of the world - Turkey, El Salvador, Romania, and of course in the US. The audiences are always warm and enthusiastic about the beautiful phrasing, clean runs, and color she brings to the piece. She performed the premiere of Romeo Rimbu's Lacul afterward. The orchestration was a bit heavy and the first part of the song was low in its range, so she used a microphone for better balance. Normally she doesn't use a microphone unless the hall is too large as it was in El Salvador and also in Spain in previous concerts. Romeo is the Music Director of the Filharmonica (now for 20 years) and was guest conductor of the Clark College Orchestra during the first week of December. Linda also performed Lacul on that concert in Vancouver. The poetry is by a famous Romanian poet of the 20th century and she worked very hard on the correct pronunciation of the language. The audience responded with the unison rhythmic clapping common in Eastern Europe when they are especially pleased with a performance. (They also gave me this at the conclusion of the concert as well.) Stanford's Symphony No. 4 is a work I have performed with the Oregon Sinfonietta in Portland that is a good work very much in the style (and modelling as well) of Brahms Symphony No. 3 (also in F major). Romeo told me afterward that the concert was longer than what they usually did. So I gave them their money's worth! It's a nice hall of about 600 with a good acoustic though the stage is a bit small making it necessary for the conductor and soloists to actually walk around it and enter from the front.
Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of my work with this orchestra was Romeo's very complimentary words about my conducting - calling my gestures "elegant" and "most effective with the orchestra in getting results". He went so far as to say he should probably emulate them himself! In a business that is generally very short on compliments or praise that is at best terse in nature, it was encouraging to receive such feedback on my skills as a conductor from a colleague. Romeo also suggested that I extend the ending on the last movement of the NW Triptych (Riffs - a jazz rock fun movement that I have also transcribed for band) in order to use it as an opening work on a concert. Generally I do not revise works after I finish composing them but I was pleased that he liked it enough to suggest that.
The Clark College Orchestra enjoyed having Romeo as a guest conductor along with his son Remus as violin soloist. They are interested in having another exchange in two years so I hope to return to Oradea, Romania to work with the Filharmonica again. It's always fun to plan ahead and I hope to see if we can perform my Concertino for Bass Clarinet with Rocco Parisi if he is available - stay tuned!