Part of what made the past Gabrieli concert so nerve-wracking and challenging was the fact that as the continuo organist I didn’t have a written-out part. You may remember in previous posts that I wrote about the basso continuo having to read from “figured bass,” a kind of musical shorthand. However, in most of this concert I had to read from “open score,” meaning that I was looking sometimes at 8-12 staves of music at once. I’ll show you an example here from “Deus qui beatum Marcum” by Andrea Gabrieli. Here’s the first page:
Somehow I had to condense this down to what my ten fingers (and my feeble brain) could assimilate! Luckily this piece was at a pretty slow tempo, but it still meant I had to quickly process what the underlying chords and harmonies were. And of course, even though I’ve played plenty of open score in my many years as a choral accompanist, it took a lot of concentration to get through this.
Now, imagine a whole program of playing open score. No wonder my brain was fried after the concert!
Here’s a note from Ian Capps, president of Early Music Hawaii: I cannot thank you enough for bringing together so smoothly the range of talent needed to make the Gabrieli concert such a success. . . .The audience of just under 300 seems to have embraced the joys of the early Baroque. . . It’s all very well to import top ensembles . . . but what really excites them is the knowledge that there is terrific local talent which can make it happen and make them proud of their musical friends.
Let’s hear it for live music!