Tag Archives: Minnesota Orchestra

Songs from the darkened stage at Orchestra Hall…(or Mr. Heifetz and me…)…:-0

Long ago, when my flute lessons took place at Orchestra Hall, my teacher, the then-Principal Flute, Sid Zeitlin, would turn me loose to practice on the darkened stage afterward.  “Monostatos” did that as well, once or twice a month.  Needless to say, it was a heady experience.  Apparently whoever was playing on stage was piped throughout the building.  I didn’t let that bother me. The sound of the flute with the acoustics at OH was sufficiently fascinating to take the edge off of any discomfort.  However, as if by some sort of dark magic, players would crawl out from the woodwork to attempt to insinuate themselves into my life through flattery.  I learned later that they were slandering me behind my back.  Such is the life when one is born with a target on their back. :-0

For as long as I can remember I cherished every recording I could find made by Jascha Heifetz.  My parents went to hear him once, at the Stratford Theatre in Connecticut, and refused to take me with them.  It took me years to forgive them for that. That sound, that grace, those chops.  I was mesmerized.  When I began to play the flute seriously I realized that I wanted to play it as though it were a violin.  I began to dream of somehow becoming one of Heifetz’ students, but even I realized that he would probably balk at having to deal with a flute player (or, more likely, roll his eyes and fall on the floor laughing) :-0 I would have been deliriously happy as a gofer, just sitting on the floor and listening to him play and teach, actually. I even had family in the LA area. I had everything figured out, I thought.  I had the privilege of hearing one of Heifetz students perform the Haffner Serenade with the Minnesota Orchestra.  The exquisite quality of Adam Han-Gorski’s sound and technique brought me to tears.  Heifetz, the master, had done his job well.  I tried to convince Mr. Zeitlin to write a letter of introduction to Heifetz for me, but he declined.  So I wrote to him on my own.  But a few months later he was dead, and my dreams were crushed forever.

So now I own the Complete Heifetz, and can honestly say that I have listened to virtually everything he ever recorded.  The whole is far more patchy than the parts — in pieces where I would have expected him to be brilliant, he might sound annoyingly ordinary.  Some of the itsy bitsy’s he so loved just make me grit my teeth. Some of his playing seemed stilted, as though he had not quite found the soul of the piece but was playing it anyway.  Some of his playing (horrors!) sounded even ordinary.  But on the whole I found I had uncovered one of the mysteries of his mastery — that when he learned a piece, he owned it, as though he were the composer.  Not only did he know every nuance of style and phrasing, but he understood the architecture of the piece.  He structured his performances so that there was only one real climax per movement.  His playing was never flashy, it was always in proportion to the music.

I have heard it said (when he was alive many people said this) that Heifetz’ playing was ‘cold’.  That, I feel, is another of his mysteries.  Heifetz was from Vilnius, in Lithuania.  He had the heart of a gypsy, but his playing was cool and his style eminently classical.  Because the fire was controlled, it shone through the cool technique.  The result was, as we know, simply breathtaking.  During the years after that, when my chidren and I were locked out of Monostatos’ Orchestra, I found, as one of the clique I call “Monostatos” was a string player, that I could not longer tolerate the sound of stringed instruments.  Except for Heifetz.  During all the times of struggle and disappointment, his music was my lifeline.  It still is.  I do listen to other string players now, and recently enjoyed Hillary Hahn’s new recording of the Mozart V#5.  She is splendid, and the recording is wonderful.  Then I said, “Hmmm…how did Heifetz interpret this piece?”  Different — light and delicate, yet with considerable power and speed.  Flawless…

So, back to the darkened stage, where, at that time, I practiced not only the Mozart flute concerti, the Neilsen, the Khat, Bach, etc…but also parts of the Mendelssohn, the Brahms, even the Tchiakovsky. During the next few weeks I plan to record excerpts from some of those pieces.  Stay tuned…:-)

Back in the old days…

It was an odd coincidence that when I became a single mother of three small children I had taken a modeling course in Minneapolis in order to improve my confidence as I faced tumult in my personal life. Quite by chance I ended up actually modeling.  I found out quickly that it is very hard work and you have no guarantees about when you are paid.  At about the same time I had begun studying the flute seriously with the Principal Flute of the Minnesota Orchestra.  I traded in my closed-hole Hanes for one of his gorgeous Louis Lot flutes, so I was not about to leave it in my taxicab yellow VW when I went to fittings on the same day I had a flute lesson.  So one afternoon, while the fashion director was sticking pins in me, trying to get an outfit ready for a live show I remember standing in the fitting room and looking down at my flute case.  I had a troubling thought — if I am really serious about playing the flute, just how many photos of me would I want to have taken without it?

I did not realize it at the time, but a sea change had begun in my life.  I have kept very few photos of those days.  Here is one, taken at the Forum Cafeteria in Minneapolis.  The Forum Cafe was and is (interior now a new restaurant called Il Foro…http://www.il-foro.com/about/) one of the most exciting examples of Art Deco interior in the Twin Cities.  The view from this balcony for me (one who loves F. Scott Fitzgerald and have tracked almost all of his Minnesota living quarters down) was just breathtaking.  The dress I am wearing was actually lime green with lime and white feathers.  I earned it by doing three days of demos with a few other models (similarly attired but in different colors) for a convention of salad dressing manufacturers.  Yes, this was the perfect outfit in which to serve up mayonnaise! 🙂

pamela forum cafe

#MinnegeddonPartDeux – Now what? (or, the fallout continues)

While OV begins negotiations to return in some capacity to the MO, eight board members of MOA have resigned as a result of the dismissal of Mr. Henson.  While all of this seems quite to be expected, as the chips fall from the prolonged lockout of eighteen months, we are given yet another fascinating glimpse into the innards of this organization.  

Are there underlying reasons for these events?  Are there other shoes to fall, so to speak? Will the ‘rebellion’ staged by the players in refusing to crawl back to MOA after being locked-out and the encouragement of their leader who stood up to MOA on their behalf continue to the point of trying to, in effect, clean house at MOA and, in effect, perhaps even try to take control of the endowment? Or, if they do not get their way, might they even try to form another organization and attempt to have the endowment transferred to them? 

Ironically, it may well have been the legacy of those who are leaving or who have already resigned to have managed, in their own at-times bumbling way, to keep MO from going belly-up during a time of great crisis and transition.  

Certainly, this is an interesting time…

#MinnegeddonPartDeux — What’s going on at MOA? s d reply…

I don’t live in the world of 200M organizations, but it seems to me that it would be extremely reckless for MOA to embark on a course that involves humiliating its employees and blithely waving goodbye to the conductor who brought them to world-class status, without having a “Plan B” in place prior to the lockout. Surely any of those on the Board who enabled Mr. Henson’s strategies should have realized that he, at the very least, would have to take responsibility for the consequences. My question is, ‘why have they been dragging their heels?” :-0

http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2014/02/hensons-neck-is-on-the-minnesota-block-today.html#comment-195703

“The Other Mozart” — why a blog and not the Crowned Heads of Europe? :-0

There is so much known about Wolfgang Mozart’s life, but so little valid information about what he was like as a person.  Most people end up believing a lot of misconceptions about him.  Many of them are summed up in the movie “Amadeus,” which tends to focus on and even exaggerate his character defects.  The clear implication is that he didn’t ‘deserve’ to be so richly endowed with genius because he was in fact a nasty person.

To my mind, this is both unfair and wrong.  Mozart was shot out of a cannon at an early age onto the world stage.  He didn’t have a chance to grow up normally.  He knew his gifts were extraordinary, and he knew he had to work as quickly as possible with whatever time he had.  In short, I think he knew his own shortcomings better than anyone, but was determined to fulfill the mission given to him despite them, and in spite of the backbiting and negativity of his colleagues.

Ultimately, of course, the earthly voice of Mozart was silenced.  There is ample reason to believe his untimely death was not of natural causes.  Certainly, the contempt and deceit of his contemporaries served at the least to discourage him and shorten his days on earth.  His music was stolen away from him.  It was then even paraded like a banner by some who hated him, to try to show the world that they were as good as he was.  Many counterfeit or anti-Mozarts have tried to lay claim to being another Wolf. Nobody has succeeded.  They never will.

And so, here I am.  As I said to one of the ‘professional’ players of the MO,”I feel I have a drop of what Wolf had an ocean of.” (Excuse my grammar).  I believe that I can talk about his life from the inside, not the outside.  Every mistake he made has been of benefit to me.

People tend to think of Mozart as ‘exclusive’.  They seem to think he had a gift inaccessible to anyone else, and then they hated him for it. That is false.  Unfortunately, Wolf himself contributed to that lie.  So I am speaking to you with a simple voice, in a manner intended to be inclusive.  My family and friends can verify that there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about me.  In fact, they insist on telling me that frequently. :-0

I live an ordinary life and do very mundane (compared to Wolf) things.  I live simply.  I am passionate about my family, my friends, and my horse.  And every time I pick up the flute to play I am humbled, sometimes to the extent where I am unable to accomplish much at all.  And so, before most of you hear me play, before you learn more of “P2A”, I want you to know me as a person.  What better way than a blog? :-0

In addition, though my adversaries will undoubtedly disagree, I feel that it is in Gd’s plan for me to live in an out-of-the-way town in “the Heartland” of this country.  This is a gift for the ‘salt-of-the-earth’, the ‘common people’ who are just extraordinary in their kindness.  It is these people who have supported my children and me while  “Monostatos” did its best to lock me out and target my children.

 

Waiting for an apology from the players? May be a long wait… s d reply

Bob Smith said, “I hope the Musicians apologize to the community and donors who they insulted during their union inspired year and a half tantrum. “

I am still waiting for a proper introduction from the ringleader of the clique I call “Monostatos” and an apology to my children for the effects they experienced by my being, in effect, ‘locked out.’

We may both have a bit of a wait. :-0

http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2014/01/slipped-disc-editorial-today-is-zero-hour-in-minnesota.html#comment-186783

#Minnegeddon — angst at its finest…but is it Mozart, or anti-Mozart? :-0

The locked out MO players have banded together with the almost-equally-distressed Minnesota Chorale this weekend, in a program of sadness — the Britten War Requiem and the piece most distasteful to Wolf in his last days — the Mozart Requiem:

http://www.twincities.com/music/ci_24890437/review-minnesota-orchestras-musicians-deliver-mourning-and-its

It is ironic, of course, that the MO has a connection to the anti-Mozart movie “Amadeus”, in that the score was conducted by its then director, SNM, who reportedly was upset when he realized there was no Oscar category for a movie score not composed for the movie. 

It is also ironic that back in the 70’s the then-conductor SS, along with the help of the Board, decided to change the name of the treasured and highly-regarded Minneapolis Symphony to the “Minnesota Orchestra”.  Apparently, none of them had done their homework.  In fact, SS is known to claim that he ‘loves Mozart’ yet seems to have very little understanding of what the real Mozart was all about.  Hence, the new name of the MSO is quite similar to that of the wicked servant in Sarastro’s temple — Monostatos.  Ironically, too, of course, there was no “Minnesota” in 1791 when Mozart wrote his last major opera Die Zauberflote, so one might open the door to the possibility that Mozart was either psychic or a prophet.  

And then we have the saga of the MO, in which a handful of players decided (without bothering to inform the MOA) to try to entice the Other Mozart onto the stage at Orchestra Hall to practice, in order to make them a target for destruction.  All of the information regarding these events have been made available to all of the parties involved.  As yet, it seems that no one has, as yet, been able to see the forest for the trees.  And now we have the locked-out players appearing to prefer the highly controversial Mostly-Mozart Requiem of Wolf to providing a proper introduction for the living one which they continue to try to keep locked-out.  Irony, indeed….