Orchestras rise to beat the heat

Posted on: July 22, 2013

The extreme temperatures of this summer continue to affect outdoor orchestra concerts, but ensembles are striving to beat the heat. In Sunday’s (7/21) Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein writes about the “merciless heat and withering humidity” last week at the Grant Park Music Festival in Millennium Park, “where Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer was making his Grant Park Orchestra debut under unusually trying weather conditions. How trying was it? Uncomfortable enough that the program order had to be changed and a half-hour intermission inserted near the end so as to give the hard-working musicians extra time to cool off … It spoke eloquently for Fischer’s professionalism that he was able to maintain cool efficiency under these barely tolerable conditions. Indeed, he secured remarkably clean, confident results in an attractive program … there was deft and spirited interplay among Grant Park principal players Mary Stolper, flute; Nathan Mills, oboe; Gene Collerd, clarinet; Eric Hall, bassoon; Douglas Carlsen, trumpet; Jonathan Boen, horn; and Daniel Cloutier, trombone.” Fisher is music director of the Utah Symphony. In Sunday’s (7/21) Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns writes, “ ‘We love coming out here,’ conductor Cristian Macelaru told the Longwood Gardens audience on Thursday night, ‘though today, the reception was slightly warmer than we anticipated.’ Such levity was welcome in the sweltering heat of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s outdoor concert here of Tchaikovsky and Dvorák. Behind it, though, were questions of how the show should go on. … On Thursday, the Philadelphia Orchestra canceled a sound-check rehearsal at Longwood. The orchestra had rehearsed the program Monday in Verizon Hall, but that meant soloist Nicola Benedetti, a glamorous, acclaimed violinist with a major European career, would wing it. But for all of her apparent poise, she was on the verge of tears by the end of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto’s first movement: Her neck was so sweaty she couldn’t maintain solid positioning of her violin. Between movements, she borrowed a shoulder rest from principal second violinist Kimberly Fisher. Suddenly, her intonation was solid and her tone became charismatic. Hair-trigger interplay with the orchestra in the final movement came off perfectly.”

Posted July 22, 2013