Rehearsing for the World Premiere of The Odyssey

Brandon and I were fortunate to share in a fantastic rehearsal today with the extended Dréos ensemble at the University of Oregon. We were joined by violinists Wyatt True and Jannie Wei of the Delgani String Quartet,  violinist Lisa McWhorter (Assistant Concert Master at the Eugene Symphony Orchestra), cellist Kathryn Brunhaver and violinist Holly Roberts of the UO School of Music and Dance Graduate program, and bassist Noah Ferguson. All superior artists.

And, it was a delightful and surreal experience having such a group of exceptional professionals working on something I made up. 

We started the rehearsal with Movement II, The Ghost of These Days. This movement is a surging complex of imitative polyphony and anxious suspensions. We spent time working out the feel associated with the resolution of the suspensions in the mid-section, in addition to cues for the final prolation canon. 

We transitioned to Movement III, Elegy and Gold. The opening of this movement is somber. It's a graveside portrait in which bystanders acknowledge the finality of what has transpired. The conclusion, however, is bright. We were able to acquire three hardanger fiddles and a vielle à roue from Doug Heydon, Philip Wilkinson, and Juanita Holmes. Hardanger fiddle and vielle à roue produce high-frequency splash from all the resonating strings. And, hardanger fiddle is such an impressive sculpture--merging the concept of the 16th-century Italian violin with what strike me as Byzantine mosaic inlay. Add to that the brilliant buzz from the sympathetic strings, and there's a lot to look at and listen to. These instruments are quite sensitive to the bow, and work well with a 17th-century bow.

Two hours later, we'd carefully examined the entire composition with time left to spare. As an added bonus, artist Wesley Hurd came to hear part of our rehearsing. The task of the evening is to edit bowing changes and cues into the master score--have fun, Brandon!

Eliot Grasso