I heard a story on public radio yesterday about the loneliness of the music practice room and how communication only happens when there is an audience. I would add that the factor of light makes a huge difference! Let me explain.
The Kona Music Society held two performances of Handel Messiah over the weekend, for which I played continuo organ. (That’s why I wasn’t present at LCH’s Advent Procession service on Sunday night.) The first performance was in Waimea, at Kahilu Theatre. All during the dress rehearsal, which was held just prior to the performance, the stage crew kept adjusting the stage lights. I finally ended up with two stand lights but didn’t realize that there were also organ console lights which could have been turned on. Consequently, I couldn’t read the names on the stop tabs and had to just guess! Of course, my vision is poor anyway, but not being able to read what stops I was pressing became a guessing game. Maybe that’s why I thought the organ part seemed so prominent!
Secondly, from my vantage point, I could only see one or two rows of people in the audience while the rest of the theatre was really dark during the performance. So I really didn’t know how many people were there until the end when the house lights came up. The concert went well, considering there was only one run-through with the orchestra.
On Sunday afternoon, there was a second performance which took place at the King Kamehameha Hotel in the ballroom. The choir and orchestra were seated along the long axis of the room and the audience was in the round on the same level. During the warmup, director Susan McCreary Duprey reminded the chorus members to show their enthusiasm for the music through their faces, to “look alive.” I remembered to turn on the console lights but I think there was a big difference with this performance. We could clearly see the audience as the house lights were bright throughout and not dimmed as they were in Waimea. We then could communicate directly with them, and although my field of vision focused only on the score and the director, I was clearly aware of the overflow audience. In fact some people were sitting so close behind me that they could have turned my pages, which in fact they offered to do!
Here’s what someone wrote on Susie McCreary’s FaceBook page:
The concert today was just the way you asked us to do it, Susie. The coaching paid off—I think we were all present and engaged the audience and followed you well. BTW—the string section was on fire today. It’s the best I’ve ever heard them It was mesmerizing; thanks for doing such a great job as our Director. I think your Dad was definitely there today.
The enthusiasm of the audience clearly was evident in their hearty applause after every movement, which you can see on the video clip below of the Hallelujah Chorus. Thanks to Randy Phillips who posted the video on the Kona View Estate FaceBook page. (He is the husband of Atsumi Hara who is a soprano in the chorus and owner of the vacation rental where I stayed. For more of my photos of their gorgeous property, click here.)