We’re now six hours away from a weekend of concerts that has sometimes seemed like it might never get here, the culminating performances of our 18 month long MicroCommission Project. The rehearsals of Acadia are over, the outline for the onstage conversation that comprises the first half of the show is finalized, Judd has yet another food analogy at the ready to help explain why composers do the things they do, and there’s nothing left for me to do but relax, maybe take a walk in the cool spring weather, and, yeah, okay, look over the tricky passages in my viola part one more time.
Having now spent two days rehearsing the piece, I can honestly say that I love what Judd’s created for us. The brass writing, in particular, is incredibly warm and satisfying, and there’s just the right amount of percussion to really propel the piece forward without overwhelming everything else. There are a few sections – the opening of the piece, in particular – that are amazingly gentle despite there being semi-frenetic action going on in many corners of the orchestra. In short, Acadia is the kind of music that drew me to Judd’s work in the first place – meticulously planned, but somehow set down in a way that makes you feel as if the notes just naturally fell into place in that order. There are patterns that cycle on for pages at a time without changing much, but it couldn’t feel less like the “machine music” of minimalism. The emotional content is right there on the surface – as Judd said at a break in today’s rehearsal, “There were moments when I just suddenly smiled involuntarily.”
By the time many of you read this, you will already have heard the world premiere of Acadia, and if you have any thoughts of your own on the piece, we’d love to hear them in the comments. Also, if you’re here because you’re looking for the free download of the performance that we promised at the concerts, our team is hard at work getting it ready, and I’ll post a link early next week as soon as it’s available. (Judd and I will also be back together on the blog in mid-April to talk more about the piece, the premiere, and his experience with the orchestra.)
I’ll be publicly thanking a few people during the course of this weekend’s concerts for their hard work on the MicroCommission Project, and of course, the people we’re most thankful for are the hundreds of donors who made it all possible. I’m still sort of awed at how quickly and fervently people embraced this idea, and it says a lot about our Inside the Classics audience that you trusted us not only to commission a piece of music with your money, but to pick a composer who could mirror your passion for music.
But there are a lot of people I won’t have time to thank from the stage tonight and tomorrow night without whom this project, and these concerts, could never have happened, and we owe them at the very least a mention here on the blog. Heidi Droegemueller, our Director of Development and Individual Giving, didn’t even flinch when we told her a year and a half ago that we were proposing to expend huge amounts of staff time and energy to raise an amount equal to roughly 0.07% of the orchestra’s annual budget, and to do so without soliciting a single large donation. (Okay, she may have raised an eyebrow. But it was subtle.) Likewise, development staffers Laura McCarty, Julie Gramke, Scott Mays, and Emily Dobbs gave us tremendous support and expertise and continually assured us that, no, it’s no problem, this is our job, even as they went regularly above and beyond the call to help us out.
On the marketing side, directors Cindy Grzanowski and David Sailer were enthusiastic about the project from the get-go, and worked like nobody’s business to get the word out. PR chief Gwen Pappas put Judd in front of every Minnesota writer and photographer she could get ahold of, and made sure we had plenty of advance press. Our web guru, Jennifer Rensenbrink, built the MicroCommission web page, handled our endless fanciful requests for tricky features with ease and grace, and even went to the trouble of getting a babysitter for her 4-year-old twins just so she could sit in the first tier and videotape our post-concert performance of Judd’s Four on the Floor last November.
Kari Marshall did everything not listed above, and I mean everything. Kari is the secret glue that binds Inside the Classics (and a lot of other Minnesota Orchestra endeavors) together, and without her, the MicroCommission might never have even gotten off the ground. Sarah and I depend on Kari like no one else, and she never fails to make us look good up there.
If you’re planning to be in the audience tonight or tomorrow, thanks in advance for supporting us, and for supporting new music! We’ll do our best to give you a premiere to remember…
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