Our program this second week was a diverse one: Leopold Stowkowski's transcription of J.S. Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in c minor, a piece called Double Play by Cindy McTee (who happens to be the new Mrs. Slatkin), and Peter Tchaikovksy's classic Symphony No. 5.
I can't even really describe my feelings that week. I walked into rehearsal, sat in my chair, looked up at the podium, and there he was. Then rehearsal started, and I just kept thinking to myself, "I am in rehearsal with Leonard Slatkin." It was pretty amazing. One day, I happened to walk by him as I was going offstage and realized with a shock that I was taller than he was!
The music was incredible. It was particularly fascinating to work on the piece by Cindy McTee, who attended rehearsals and gave us advice and insight into her work. The Bach transcription used a massive wind section, and it's always an adventure to sit in front of eight french horns (there are normally four in an orchestra). And Tchaik 5, as it's known colloquially in the music world. It's a well-loved classic for a reason. Beautiful music. Mr. Slatkin conducted it without a score for the concert, and at one point very near the end of symphony, he stopped conducting and just stood there, letting the orchestra take over.
I think one of the most remarkable things about working with Mr. Slatkin was that he let the music take the first priority. He's comfortable with who he is as a person and as a musician, and he was primarily interested in making music with the orchestra. There was no ego, no "this is MY interpretation." Just the music, and a real sense that he enjoyed the music and enjoyed working with us. I know we enjoyed working with him immensely, and I know it's an experience I'll never forget.
Photo credit to my friend Kate Jarvis.