Live and learn

Carl tuned the fortepiano, with the assistance of Mark Russell.

Carl tuned the fortepiano, with the assistance of Mark Russell.

We have just finished the opening Mozart Konzert and it was a night of spectacular singing and playing, especially from Darel Stark (Mozart’s Violin Concerto in A major) and Georgine Stark (soprano in Exsultate jubilate) who with her extreme agility and vocal pyrotechnics, got the biggest applause of the night.

But what we learned the hard way was that the fortepiano does not like air conditioning! When Carl went early to practice this morning, he said the building was cool from the night before, and the piano sounded pretty much in tune. But tonight even though he tuned it right before the concert, with the lights on — the treble notes were out of tune even before the concert started! That high D — ouch!

Georgine and Darel Stark

Georgine and Darel Stark

Carl did not relish the idea of having to tune the piano just prior to performing, because he said it added another layer of stress. Do you remember the Four Harpsichord concerts a few years back when Carl not only played in five of the concertos, but along with Mark Russell, had to keep four harpsichords in tune! Unreal! We tried, too late, to engage someone else to tune the piano for this concert, so Carl ended up doing it himself. The real problem, though, was that the fortepiano is not used to the arctic air conditioning at LCH (about 70° F) — even though its usual residence (our condo) is air conditioned, but at 75° F.

In addition to having the tuning challenges because of the air conditioning, apparently there was a vent directly over the music rack of the fortepiano. Carl Crosier’s music kept closing on every page (!) and he had to keep using whatever free hand (!) to keep the score open. I think I was especially nervous for Carl to have to see him deal with this problem on top of everything else. (Guess what I’m doing this afternoon ? Yup, being his page-turner and music-holder!)

The program was longer than usual because of the verbal program notes and also because of the extra time needed to tune to gut strings. Last night’s concert used Vallotti tuning which required that each string of each instrument had to be tuned individually.

By the way, I wanted to applaud the LCH Choir, who performed Mozart’s Venite populi excellently, and the Bach Chamber Orchestra, always a top-rate ensemble, for their performance last night. We are so, so fortunate to have this level of musicianship in this town!

The music-making was absolutely delightful and we had a very good crowd. We’ll repeat it all this afternoon at 4 pm. Don’t miss it!

Darel Stark talks about gut strings (and they are not from cats!)

Darel Stark explains why they are using gut strings (and they are not from cats!)

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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