Concertmaster: How we make choices about bowings

Posted on: September 9, 2015

“One of the neatest things to watch while at an orchestra concert is the synchronized bows of the string section. It’s almost like a well-choreographed ballet,” writes Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Holly Mulcahy on Friday (9/4) in her blog NeoClassical. “I’ve decided to share what goes on behind the scenes to make the whole section bow in the same direction…. Deciding a bowing direction is not as simple as starting in the down direction and alternating each note thereafter….  I take into account who I’m working with on the podium, how the space will resonate (or not), and what size violin section I have to work with…. Some conductors are very focused on phrase lengths, while others gravitate towards articulations or textures…. I usually look at some of the old parts I’ve saved…. Sometimes taking in a few various orchestra performances on can be helpful…. Some people have asked why a symphonic work that’s been around for over one hundred years needs to be bowed any more at all. It is a great question…. The short story is that every orchestra is different. The personnel, the conductors, the styles and tastes, and the varying acoustics are all factored into creating a custom and a very individual live performance.”

Posted September 9, 2015