Persepolis Dress Rehearsal... wow

As promised, here is an update after the dress rehearsal of Symphony No. I – “Persepolis.” The VSU Wind Ensemble is not tremendously large, but they are good. This was the first time I heard Persepolis live, and it was monumentally beneficial for me to hear what’s been in my head for a few years now.

The wind ensemble played the entire symphony twice. The first time was to address problematic sections, and the second was a run-through. I had the opportunity to offer brief comments after Dr. Brashier rehearsed each movement, and the only comments I had pertained to blending and tempo. I have no complaints about their performance.

Kat and Daniel Swilley were in attendance with me, and I don’t think I blinked at all during the third movement. While the fourth movement may be my favorite, there is something sinister and even savage about the third that awakens something in me. Roar! :)

I wrote Persepolis from start to finish, and by the end I had become a more mature composer with much more command of the forces before me. I don’t think the first two movements are bad, but I feel that the third and fourth show growth and musical maturation. Live performance helped me to realize some of my mistakes that I made in the first two movements. For instance, there’s one section in the first movement that briefly cadences in E-major. As Jim Barnes would say, there’s nothing that sounds good in E-major that wouldn’t sound better in E-flat! I concur now. However, the ensemble is doing a great job with what I gave them.

What surprised me? The singing in the fourth movement sounds terrific! It’s just right – exactly what I had in mind. It’s not too timid, and it’s not too bold. The opening is sung, and when the instruments enter the singing slowly fades out, and it’s sublime. The horns are stronger than I expected. This is not a bad thing at all, I was just not expecting it, so kudos to them. Most importantly, the percussion makes the piece come alive. After hearing imaginary and MIDI percussion, there’s just no substitute for a real percussion battery.

And of course, horn and flute (senza vibrato) is a great combination.

Tomorrow should be fun!

Originally posted on 01 October 2006

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