Students are finishing up their orchestra pieces. We’re going through scores and parts with a microscope, making sure every entrance has a dynamic, breaking up undotted half-notes in 6/8 meter, deciding almost arbitrarily whether one oboe or two on a given line, figuring out how far to extend cautionary accidentals, and so on and so on. We’re so petrified that a question about some ambiguity will arise in our allotted 20 minutes of rehearsal. We split hairs to make lines lightning-fast to sightread that aren’t at all difficult to play. It reaches the analogous point of de-italicizing commas in a text document. It’s the most exhausting thing I do during the year.
This student’s piece was based on William Blake, and, once finished, we started chatting about Blake. The student had run across a reference to a piece by Eve Beglarian based on Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. I plucked a score of the piece out of my file cabinet, and we opened it. There on the inside cover was a notice from Eve:
EVERYONE: I am definitely interested in hearing suggestions for improvement in the notation & orchestration of the piece. Please tell me of ANY difficulty or confusion or whatever….
[A phone number follows.]
Thanks, and I hope you have fun playing this piece!
What a refreshing jolt back into a less pretentious musical world! Only a woman, or perhaps only Eve, would have the balls to put a disclaimer like that: a note that says not, “I am a professional, I know all, and you must follow my every notated whim,” but, “I am an artist and I’m trying something no one’s ever done before, if it doesn’t work out for you give me some feedback.” What a dreary mausoleum the orchestra is. What a breath of fresh air Eve is.