Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Orchestra focuses on music despite war concerns

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NEW YORK - Some musicians were leaning on their faith. Some were thinking about American armed forces and loved ones overseas. Some were apprehensive about security while touring with the orchestra.

All were aware of the importance of Monday's concert in Carnegie Hall, and hoped that their focus on the music would carry them through the performance, a defining moment for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and music director Paavo Jarvi.

The CSO continues its first U.S. tour with Paavo Jarvi, music director.
Today: Symphony Hall, Boston: Erkki-Sven Tuur, Exodus; Sibelius, Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47; Shostakovich, Symphony No. 10 in
E Minor, Op. 93
Thursday: Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Mass.: Sibelius, Finlandia, Op. 26; Violin Concerto in D
Minor, Op. 47; Stravinsky, The Firebird Suite; Ravel, Bolero
Saturday: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.: Sibelius, Finlandia, Op. 26;
Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47; Stravinsky, The Firebird Suite; Ravel, Bolero
As they entered New York's Carnegie Hall with their instruments for a dress rehearsal Monday morning, musicians talked about how it felt to be performing on Jarvi's first tour with the orchestra, while the United States was in its second week at war with Iraq.

"I just concentrate on the music, and try to give the people who are here something reassuring," says violinist James Braid, who admitted to being a little apprehensive just walking around New York this year. "I think people need to take their mind off the war. We're bombarded 24/7 (with news), so I think art and music is going to be even more important in the future."

Even though he has performed in Carnegie Hall for 17 seasons, principal bassoonist William Winstead says this year feels different. "We've been really sheltered (from violence). I don't think it's ever going to go away. I'm afraid it isn't."

Signs of security

Although there were no outward signs of extra security at Carnegie Hall, there were other signs in New York that the nation is at war, such as national guardsmen with M-16 rifles at LaGuardia Airport, and concrete barriers placed across the front of Lincoln Center.

On Sunday, as the musicians were bused to their performance at Long Island University, Greenvale, N.Y., first assistant concertmaster Sylvia Samis noticed armed guards at the entrances of the tunnels. "That was a little unnerving, but also good to know that they were there," she said.

Violinists DeAnne Cleghorn and David Moore likened Monday's concert to the CSO's last performance in Carnegie Hall exactly four weeks after 9-11, when they played Benjamin Britten's War Requiem with the May Festival Chorus.

"It was difficult, but it was very significant to all of us, and very much appreciated by the audience," Cleghorn says. "(Music) is a sharing thing, and something we feel so strongly about."

Assistant conductor Sarah Ioannides, who was Jarvi's extra set of ears at Monday's rehearsal, said she was concerned about her mother, who lives near London, and her father, who lives in Cyprus. "I hear that London is preparing for any number of suicide attacks. The whole thing is frightening, but somehow we feel safe," she says.

Both she and oboist Lon Bussell noted the irony of performing Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10 - a work that is essentially a portrait of another dictator, Stalin.

"The challenging part of this program is the fact that Symphony No. 10 has to do with war and has violent sections, as well," Bussell says. "So, whereas normally it's an escape from the realities of what's going on, this program is somewhat of a reminder."

But others felt that performing music offered another, positive side to human nature.

"Instead of the worst of human nature, you're taking part in something that is re-creating the best of human nature - something beautiful to take people away from the ordinary, even when there's nothing terrible happening around them," says associate concertmaster Rebecca Culnan.

Composer Erkki-Sven Tuur, whose piece Exodus was receiving its New York premiere, agreed. "I think the only thing artists can do is to show the positive essence of mankind," he said.

Focusing on debut

Jarvi, speaking between his rehearsal and an afternoon interview with WQXR-FM (which chose his new Stravinsky album as its "disc of the week"), said he was focusing on his debut. Clearly, his adrenalin was pumping as he anticipated what he called "a re-introduction of the new combination of the orchestra and me.

"I can't wait until a performance starts, and then I know exactly what I'm doing," he says.

Despite the extra stress of performing in wartime, he and the musicians were thrilled to be again at Carnegie Hall.

"The show goes on - no matter what," principal timpanist Eugene Espino says. "I'm concerned for our guys and gals over there. I hope they're safe. Otherwise, I think we're going to be OK."

Fish fries soothe the soul
How we rated them
Smoke signals good shellfish
To make a true taco, start with soft corn tortilla
Snap up traditional Mock Turtle Soup
Scotch Silly seriously flavorful brew
Smart Mouth
Trade Secrets

Children have a friend indeed
Themed cruises pick up steam
Loopy Letterman returns as swingin' shingles guy
Get to it!

CSO earns bravos at Carnegie Hall
Orchestra focuses on music despite war concerns

Drink a day could keep Alzheimer's disease away
Painkillers might dissolve brain plaque
Look for third-party seal on supplements
Bar codes reduce chance of medication errors
Body and mind