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Music comes to life
even in rehearsals
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Photo courtesy of trt North Carolina Symphony
Formal attire for the North Carolina Symphony
performs with Associate Conductor James Ogle
)kjiy eome tome for its birfidlay
rolina Symphony Society, explained that the concerts are not
illy free. Someone has to pay the musicians.
'The evening concerts (in the Chapel Hill subscription series)
p fund the daytime concerts to educate school children,"
ay said. "So people who go to our regular concerts are helping
out in that way."
"The Symphony today is a precision
an original Symphony member
Today the Symphony consists of 66 players, a staff of three
!nductors, and a flock of office workers who make their home
J Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium. All season ticket holders are
'embers of the North Carolina Symphony Society. Local chap
jrs of the Society make arrangements for concerts in their areas
vj ianc i.naigc jt J h jlujui I ui ikj uiuiviuuai tiv-ixv. LJ.
With each concert costing an individual chapter $8,000,
eaking even might seem a problem. But even high ticket prices
$8 for the general public have not kept people away. The
st Chapel Hill concert this season was actually oversold, and
ople were turned away when the box office ran out of tickets.
The audience is there. It isn't, however, what you might ex
ct There is the usual quota of little blue-haired old ladies who
ag unwilling husbands in to see and to be seen, but these are in
e minority. Plenty of students were present for the recent 50th
iniversary concert. And why not? Student ticket prices have
pen held down to $2.50, courtesy of the Carolina Union.
J Pops concerts also demonstrate widening appeal of classical
jiusic. The Union sponsors one such concert in Chapel Hill each
. ;ar in the fall semester. This year's concert takes place Sunday
1 4 p.m. in Forest Theatre. The atmosphere is far from highbrow,
eople arrive early with picnic meals. Dress ranges from three
iece suits to sweat suits. People are there to share in the musi
(al experience, not to be seen and to be recognized on the so
j From a volunteer group which finished its first season with a
ank balance of $28.14, the North Carolina Symphony has
',rown into a complex professional organization with a budget of
!ver $2 million.
The Symphony survived the Depression first on Federal Emer
fency Relief Administration grants, then on the Work Projects
Administration's use of the Symphony to employ out-of-work
layers and music teachers. Dr. Benjamin Swalin took over as
onductor in 1939 and increased the orchestra's exposure as an
educational group. When Swalin retired in 1971, John Gosling
succeeded him and led the Symphony to a position among the
nation's major orchestras.
At the Sept. 15 concert, William Mitchell said that he could
not compare the performances by the original group with those
offered by today's Symphony. "The Symphony today is a preci
sion instrument," he said.
At the close of the concert, the Symphony's present artistic di
rector and principal conductor, Cerhardt Zimmermann, offered
thoughts for the past and the future.
"We would like to play three encores for you,"he said. "The
first we dedicate to all the former Symphony musicians. The sec
ond is dedicated to Dr. and Mrs. Swalin for their years of service
to the Symphony. The third. . . is for the next 50 years."
The North Carolina Symphony has already performed one
concert in Chapel Hill this fall. Four more are scheduled for the
remainder of the academic year.
This Sunday, Cerhardt Zimmermann will conduct a free pops
concert at 4 p.m. in Forest Theatre. The program will feature
Saint-Saens' Princess Jaune Overture, Rachmaninoff s Caprice,
Bohemien, Herold's Zampa Overture, a medley of songs from
The Sound of Music, and Sousa's Liberty Bell March.
"We hoped that someday the or
chestra members would be paid, but
we were willing to do it just for the
an original Symphony member
Zimmermann will conduct again for an all-Beethoven concert
at 8 p.m. Oct 20 in Memorial Hall. Soloist Richard Luby will per
Jorm in the Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, and the
r-Durham Civic Choral Society will be heard in the Symphony No.
9 in D Minor.
January 14 will bring another 8 p.m. Memorial Hal! concert,
ithis one with a program of music by North Carolina composers.
Robert Suderberg will conduct his Concerto: Night Voyage after
Baudelaire for Chamber Orchestra and Soprano. UNC music pro
cessor Roger Hannay then takes over the podium for his Sym
phony No. 5 ("American Classic"). To conclude the program,
Robert Ward, one of the busiest living American opera compo
sers, will direct a performance of his Symphony No. 2.
This season will close on April 14 with an all-Tchaikovsky pro
gram, again at 8 p.m. in Memorial Hall. James Ogle will be the
conductor for. the Symphony No. 6 in B Minor ("Pathetique") and
the Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor for Piano and Orchestra. UNC
piano professor Francis Whang will be the soloist for the concerto.
Tickets for all the Memorial Hal! programs will be on sale at
the Carolina Union box office and at the door. Admission for stu
dents is $2.50. For more information, call the box office at 962
1449. ' Jeff Grove is assistant arts editor of The Daily Tar Heel.
By LEAH TALLEY
The piano player is a strange combination of tense shoulders and a
loose body rolling over the keys, his hands attacking yet caressing the ivo
ries. The orchestra, playing Rachmaninoff, seems to be fading away, its
music takes over, becomes a life of its own.
The conductor then holds up his left hand and the music stops
breathing, a few straggling, gasping notes sprinkled here and there.
"No, no, no. He's very free here," Cerhardt Zimmermann, guest-conductor
of the North Carolina Symphony, says. At a rehearsal like thispne
held in Memorial Hall, the music is suddenly seen as a creation. And the
musicians, dressed in T-shirts or jeans, are seen as real people. The music
may live and breathe on its own, but it is their creation.
Once you realize the fact that the music doesn't spring to life by itself,
then it must be considered as a creation. In a professional symphony, it is
a finely tuned genesis between the musicians and their conductor.
In live performances, the public sees only the final, polished product
The conductor waves his arms before the ready orchestra and magic oc
curs. But before each concert, the N.C. Symphony usually rehearses four
times. During these sessions, magic becomes work.
According to Jackson Parkhurst, director of education and assistant
conductor for the N.C. Symphony, the rapport between the conductor
and the symphony is extremely important But in rehearsal, the role of the
conductor becomes crucial.
"What the audience sees is the tip of the iceberg" Parkhurst said. "The
most important time a conductor is in front of an orchestra is in rehearsal.
This is where a conductor will make or break himself with an orchestra."
Rehearsal is work. And work in creating symphonic music means inter
play between conductor and musicians in developing the magic and mys
tery of Rachmaninoff or Mozart or Bach. The notes of any piece of music
are there on the printed page for anyone with skill to play. But in the right
hands, they fill the air instead of lying lifeless on the music stand.
"The musicians know how the music goes. If s up to the conductor to
make them know how it sounds," Parkhurst said.
During rehearsal, Zimmermann again stopped the music. "Woodwinds,
what you have is ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum. Be careful," he said.
The symphony began to play again. And again, Zimmerman halted the
flow of notes.
"The attack gets up here late," he said, pointing to his head. Here, Zim
mermann allowed insight into the finished work. In creating the music, the
conductor's vision of the final work molds the musicians' artistry. The
conductor tries to recreate the symphony playing in his head with the or
chestra before his arms.
"The musician needs to play his best, of course," Anita Hoffman, vio
linist for the N.C. Symphony, said. "But the actual interpretation should
come from the conductor."
Sometimes the balance between the conductor's interpretation of a
piece of music and the musician's playing can be a precarious one, espe
cially if the musician disagrees with the conductor's vision.
"Sometimes I don't think it makes sense," Hoffman said during a re
: hearsal break. "But you give the conductor what he asks for. The musi
cian - needs to be able to alter his . playing to the conductor's
When the lights come on and curtain next rises on the N.C. Symphony,
think just a moment of rehearsal Cerhardt Zimmermann exhorting the
symphony, "Then the last two notes. . ya pa pa pa PA PUM."
The music of a symphony can be like a magic carpet carrying you off
into a dreamland. But each thread in that carpet is carefully woven by the
hands of many magicians, under the guidance of their conductor.
Leah Talley is arts editor of The Daily Tar Heel.
Photo courtesy of th North Carolina Symphony
North Carolina Svmohonv
prepares for an outdoor concert
Weekend, September 23, 1982