Viswa Subbaraman

Opera and Orchestra Conductor

Music Director Audition - Days 7, 8, and 9 (And Home Again)

I have been meaning to post this for days, but it seemed as though the second I got back to Houston, I was thrown back into the day to day of Opera Vista. Part of it is that there is always a bit of a let down after a big concert. When you get to do a big piece like Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, you put a lot of emotional energy into it. Once the concert is done, it's tough not to feel a bit empty. (Given that I'm up to my ears designing the stage direction and putting Line Tjornhoj's Anorexia Sacra together, I don't have much time to wallow!) Thursday, Feb 25, 2010

The last two full days in Yakima were a true blur. Thursday started with a tour of Mighty Tieton, which is an amazing set of warehouse lofts built in Tieton. They also converted an adjoining warehouse into studios for artists. We had the opportunity to see some of Trimpin's sound sculptures, and I have to admit that I don''t think Lauren and I wanted to leave. Ann Orminski was a wonderful tour guide. I really thought that Tieton had some great potential for artists.

We then went to the Rotary Lunch, and I was excited to see that there were so many people who took a keen interest in contributing to the community. We finished the Rotary lunch and piled into the car with Neal Lessenger who drove us through the canyon to Ellensburg to see Washington Central. That was followed by the drive back, and a quick pit stop to watch the Duke/Tulsa game. (Thankfully, they won, so I was in a good mood for rehearsal, which started 30 minutes after the game finished).

Rehearsal went very well. I was pleased by the work that the orchestra had put in since the Tuesday rehearsal. They really stepped up and pushed themselves in the direction I had been hoping for.

Video 15 - Waltz from Bernstein's Fancy Free


Friday, Feb 26, 2010

This was another really busy day. It started with a real estate tour of Yakima. Lauren and I really loved what they had done with the lofts. I thought they were really beautiful. (And they're across the street from the symphony office!) We went from the real estate tour to lunch with the Yakima Symphony Chorus folks. It was great meeting Dr. Scott Peterson and the rest of the chorus supporters. It was again one of those times where I realized all the potential that this organization has. No matter who wins the YSO job, there is so much potential for that orchestra to really do great things for the community.

We had a little bit of time off in the afternoon, so I had some time to figure out what I was going to work on in the rehearsal. I then headed over to the Capitol Theater at 5:00PM to meet with YSO board member Natalie Martinkus since she had not had a chance to meet me earlier. (This was one of the most encouraging parts of this audition - there were so many board members who cleared parts of the schedule to find times to meet with me. There was a definite focus on really getting to know my ideas and my vision for the orchestra). After meeting with Natalie, I went directly to the orchestra committee meeting (while Lauren went wine tasting with Natalie). I really admire the effort put behind making the orchestra committee such a functional organization. It was made up of board members, staff members, and orchestra members. It served as an avenue of communication between each of the three stakeholders.

We then had our final rehearsal. One of the things I had in the back of my mind for this rehearsal was really doing as much as we could to be ready for the concert on Friday night. I had a rehearsal on Saturday morning, but I was worried about doing too much on Saturday morning. The Beethoven is really an endurance trial, so I wanted to leave Saturday morning's rehearsal with something in the tank for that evening.

I was also truly honored by this article by Yakima Herald reporter, Patrick Muir.

Video 16 - First Read Through of Beethoven Seventh, movement 2


Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's game day! I tried to make the dress rehearsal as easy as possible. I wanted to make sure we had the energy to really nail it that night. They then arranged an orchestra lunch for after the rehearsal, so the orchestra could then ask me questions. I was asked such questions as, "What is your vision for the orchestra?" and "What is your favorite Star Wars movie?" (Empire is of course the only answer).

One of my habits has always been a quick nap the afternoon of a concert. (More often than not, I don't actually sleep, but the pieces run through my head). I then take a ridiculously long shower, and I drink a cup of coffee.  Then, I'm ready to go. We threw my tux in a suitcase around 5:45 and headed over to the theater at 6:00PM. I got changed and then went out to meet the YSO audience. I was asked to do a pre-concert talk, but as opposed to really preparing anything, they told me to be ready to answer questions from the audience - and answer questions I did! I was truly impressed. Just as with the search committee and the board, the audience asked excellent questions, and there was definitely a focus on building the orchestra. I really felt that there was some great energy and focus to build the orchestra.

Then, we had the concert. I was extremely proud of the performance - the orchestra really put everything they had into it. Kara Hunnicutt played wonderfully, and the orchestra matched that on the Respighi. I think the audience truly enjoyed the Revueltas. And then... there was the Beethoven. I was extremely proud of what the orchestra did. It had all the energy and fire that I could have hoped for. The amazing thing is that there is still room to build. That was just a start, so the future of the YSO is very bright!

Of course we hadn't packed, so after the concert, the public reception, and the private reception we finally got some sleep at 1:00AM... and then were up at 6:00AM since we weren't packed yet!