Saturday, May 17, 2008

I [heart] FLB

Today, New England Conservatory had a big to-do for Frank Battisti, the former Wind Ensemble conductor. Hired under Gunther Schuller's presidency, Mr. B. became much more than a Band conductor. He trained musicians. He also made contributions to the Wind Ensemble repertoire through frequent commissioning and recording. The man is a hard worker and should be lauded at every opportunity.

Part of the shindig included an open rehearsal with a band stocked of players who played under Mr. B. while students at NEC. We (I played Bass Clarinet today.) had sight readings of Holst's two Suites, Persichetti's Symphony, Vaughan Williams' Folk Song Suite, and Grainger's Lincolnshire Posy.

I've missed that. I rarely get a chance to play with a group of people who hold a common way of making music. There were many different musicians in the room, but every single one of us knew what Mr. B. expected and we did our best to respond. I have no doubt that, given a few rehearsals, that group would be dynamite. Several musicians came from NY (one from the NY Philharmonic) and at least one came from a military band in Washington, DC. This is a group that would follow Mr. B. almost anyway.

Many days, I wish I had Frank Battisti to see daily. The man runs a rehearsal with one goal: recreating the composer's intent. No one is ever berated for being a "bad musician" or for making an honest mistake. Instead, Mr. B. attempts to guide the musicians to play better and more honestly every time through a piece. Hearing him speak about making music was a daily inspiration that I got to relive today.


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