October 20, 2004
Those guys (and gal) can play!
I attended my first rehearsal of “Mass” last night. My first relief came when I realized that the group was actually nice. You never know what you’ll encounter in a first rehearsal. Slackers? Divas? Attitude?
Fortunately, all six of these people were friendly. That made a huge difference in setting me at ease. They were agreeable to everything I asked — although I didn’t need to say much. They can totally play the piece.
The only snag is some ensemble issues that stem from having certain players too far away from each other to hear each other well. That’s largely my fault — I intended some cool “stereo” effects, with parts going back and forth across the stage, so I spaced people far apart — but it’s also an issue with the space constraints on stage. The stage is only so big, and we have to fit not just the percussion ensemble, which includes 2 huge marimbas and a set of timpani, but also 18 dancers! So, although it would be much easier for the ensemble to stay together if they were physically close together, that would mean they’d be all clumped together in a big, fat circle, which would take up too much stage depth.
The grouping needs to be both physically attractive, since they’re on stage, but more importantly, they also need to be able to hear each other — while not taking up too much floor space. The solution? We’re not sure yet. They’ll figure something out.
Good or bad, I’ll be out of town next week while they’re solving this issue. I’m sort of freaked-out about that, too, as I’m a bit of a control freak, and I hate that I can’t be there for the first rehearsals with the musicians and dancers together. (FYI, I’ll be in Seattle, for my first residency week with the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra.)
I saw “Laugh Whore” last night. My friend Damien Bassman is the drummer in the new 1-man Broadway show, starring Mario Cantone from “Sex & The City.” The show was very funny. The songs should have been funnier, I thought, but there’s some truly hilarious material outside of the music. Damien sounded great, but I wished he’d had more to do. He’s one of the best drummers around, and he didn’t get much of a chance to show that off.
He needs “Bassman: The Musical. A Drumming Extravaganza.” I should get to work on that.