La Valse. This is by far my favorite Ravel work. I actually played this piece in college with Dr. Adams (see picture at left; the best professor in the world) and even though we sat and cursed having to try and read Joe Kreines's manuscript music, we loved every minute of the process. Oh the memories come flooding back. At one point we decided it would be best to write into the music where to turn whichever of the 12 pages we were on at the time and who needed to turn them. A phrase didn't go by without someone leaning over and asking "Is that a flat, a sharp, or an ink blot?" To which the reply was always, "I have no idea just keep playing. He'll let us know if it's wrong." And Kreines always did let us know.

Picture it! Symphonic band rehearsal, Monday night. Dr. Adams most often passing back and forth on the risers, making faces at all the imperfections he heard. Kreines stood on the podium, waving his arms frantically and jumping up and down. The band, sitting just so, playing so hard, just trying to keep up. The cue, good ol' Joe clapping his hands together loudly once or twice, was given to stop. Kreines (see picture at right) would point to a specific person and yell "Second trumpet! Measure 592, on the and of 3! Does your part say B, or Bb? I heard B and I want to make sure it's not a mistake in the part. It's Bb? That's what I thought. Your mistake, not mine!" And off we'd go again, swirling through thousands upon thousands of notes. Melodies. Counter-melodies.

Now this wouldn't seem too difficult if you didn't know that the band had over 100 players. Knowing exactly which person played the wrong note is insanely difficult to pinpoint. Impossible in fact, unless you're Kreines. Dr. Adams was so fun to watch during those rehearsals. He knew what the band was capable of, and what we weren't capable of for that matter. He always made this "yuck" face, all wrinkly and puckered, when he heard a wrong note. He'd throw his hand up in the air in frustration when the lines didn't fit together as they were intended. And then there was the smile. Dr. Adams always has a wink ready if you catch his eye and the music gains his stamp of approval.

It's times and memories like these that make me think I'd give up a lot to go back to that place, to experience that thrill, one more time.


Post a Comment

<< Home