Sunday, March 21, 2004

Tours challenge for orchestra, Jarvi says

Q&A: Paavo Jarvi

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director Paavo Jarvi spoke last week at Music Hall about taking the orchestra on the road.

Besides conducting concerts, what extra things will you be doing in Florida?

There are a lot of receptions, post-concert dinners, drinks, press conferences, interviews and meeting a lot of Cincinnatians. Without being too obvious about it, there is a secret hope that these people would understand our situation and find it in their hearts to help out.

Is your family coming to any concerts?

If they do, I think it will be Fort Lauderdale, because our home is about an hour away from there.

What have you noticed about how the musicians perform on tour?

It's sort of a team spirit. Here we have built-in audiences, built-in support, people who know us and it's a great feeling.

There, after rehearsals, they will sit in a restaurant or go to a bar and be together as a group. It becomes one living organism. The human aspect is what makes or breaks the performance, and the closer people feel to each other, the better.

Do you still have to work to create an impression away from home?

I think so. I find that our recordings have done a very good preliminary introduction for us. More and more, I feel that Cincinnati is being noticed as a vibrant and energetic place where something interesting is happening musically. But it needs to be followed up by very good concerts, and the impression needs to be constantly reinforced.

How did you choose the tour repertoire?

I wanted to choose substantial music, music that will benefit the orchestra. It is difficult to find the opportunity to do Brahms or Prokofiev four or five times in a row. It helps us get more familiar with core repertoire.

For you, what's the biggest challenge of this tour?

To get enough sleep, because six concerts in six days is a lot. This is all repertoire that really needs complete physical and mental engagement. If we want to play the way I want us to play, by the end of this tour, (the musicians) will need a month off.

What's the difference between a good conductor and a great conductor?

The problem with a superior technician might be a lack of inner energy or experience. It has to do with a combination that has the right dosage of everything. But in the end, there needs to be almost a demonic, relentless obsession with music.

What makes a good preacher - there might be some people who know Scripture better, but (others) who don't know so much but communicate better. A great conductor is one who knows the scripture but also knows how to inspire everybody.

I asked (Leonard) Bernstein exactly the same question, and he said, "You have to be a teacher to somebody, and a taskmaster to somebody else."

The cello gets a solo seat on plane

The nation's fifth-oldest orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, embarks Wednesday on its second domestic tour with music director Paavo Jarvi, to six Florida cities.

Moving a symphony orchestra is not easy. Truck driver Tony Totten of Tony Express, Inc., and his crew will load his 53-foot, air-ride, climate-controlled trailer with percussion equipment, large musical instruments, sound gear and wardrobe trunks after Music Hall rehearsals on Monday, and hit the road for Florida.

Florida tour by the numbers:

97 - musicians on tour

2 - conductors

7 - staff members

3 - soloists in the Eroica Trio (piano, violin and cello).

3 - stage crew

65 - boxes (includes musical instruments, wardrobe and a platform for cello soloist)

11,000 - pounds of cargo

$2.5 million - value of cargo

1 - airline seat purchased for a cello

2,700 - Seats in largest concert hall, Fort Lauderdale's Au-Rene Theatre



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