Viswa Subbaraman

Opera and Orchestra Conductor

Music Director Audition - Days 5 and 6

I kept meaning to post something yesterday, but things were crazy busy, so today, you get a post about yesterday and the day before. 2 Days Ago:

On Tuesday, I had my first rehearsal with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Amid all the interviews, receptions, and publicity spots, one of the challenges is keeping in mind that the most important reason I'm here in Yakima is to actually conduct the orchestra. (In the end, if I'm hired, that's what they're going to pay me to do after all.) One of the biggest challenges is that you have no idea what to expect. It's a bit like being asked to coach a basketball team you've never seen play. I usually start by going through a game plan of a rehearsal in my head (and 90% of the time, it never goes as I envision it!)

Video 12 - Rehearsal Prep


Brooke Creswell, the outgoing music director of the orchestra, introduced me to the orchestra at 6:00PM, and then it was time to get going. I had previously decided that the first half of the rehearsal would be Bernstein's Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free and Revueltas' Janitzio. There was a practical reason for the rehearsal order - the Beethoven doesn't use trombones, tuba, etc., so by doing those pieces in the first half of the rehearsal, the extra brass and percussion could leave.

The orchestra had never played the Bernstein or the Revueltas, so it really was a reading of the music. Taking that into account, we made a good start on the work. As you can hear in the following video, we need to work on the off beats during the trumpet solo. One of the challenges of this hall is that on stage, you can't really hear the brass well, but from the video, you can tell that the brass do project fairly well. I will need to correct my own thinking on that in the next rehearsal.

Video 13 - Bernstein's Galop from Fancy Free


In the next rehearsal, I am going to focus primarily on string sound. The hall is bass shy (in other words, the cellos and basses don't project as well), so the strings have to work harder to really produce a balanced and warm sound. It can be done, but it's something that we will have to constantly focus on.

All in all, I was truly pleased with the first rehearsal. I think there is a lot of potential, and as we get through the music more and more, we're really going to make great progress.


Yesterday was a long day. In the morning I was on KiT radio with Noel Moxley, the executive director of the orchestra. I then had a few hours off before we went to lunch with the endowment oversight committee and some of the bigger donors to the orchestra. Roger, the second trombone player, picked us up and gave us a really neat tour of the area. I got some keen insight into the agriculture industry that drives the valley. I also got a cool lecture on hops growing and production.

Video 14 - How we grow hops (Thanks to Roger Finch)


After our tour, I met the endowment oversight committee and some of the major donors for lunch. We went to a place called Tony's, which is run by a guy from Austin. (Small world!) I'll give serious props to Richard Rodriguez because he runs a great restaurant.

I then had about an hour and a half before moving on to the next event - the board interview. There is always a fear that the atmosphere around these board interviews will be one of really bright lights and constant questions - Sayeed-style from Lost, but this really was a wonderful discussion. (I mean, it ended with me discussing fixed cost allocation with the board treasurer, Charley Hanses, so you know it was fun!) One of the things I need to do is pour through the current financial report, but I think that will have to wait until I get back to Houston on Sunday.