Oregonian Classical Blog

David Stabler blogged on his experience of the dress rehearsal for A Time for Life:


Music Criticism for Dummies

Posted by David Stabler November 01, 2007 11:09AM

Categories: News

Olivia Bucks

One of the rules in “Music Criticism for Dummies,” just below “10 Tricks to Stay Awake at Concerts” and “100 Cliches to Sneak Past Your Editor” is “How to Attend Rehearsals.”

Rule No. 1: Leave your Big Gulp at home.
Rule No. 2: Don’t laugh and scribble things in your notebook.
Rule No. 3: Don’t raise your hand to point out that the flute keeps coming in late at letter N.

This is touchy ground. When a critic shows up at a rehearsal, the musicians think we’re tallying up their wrong notes, missed entrances and personality failures, when all we want to know is, are we in 4/4?

One of the hardest things to write about is a brand-new piece, so I often ask for a score and permission to sit in on a rehearsal. I’ve never had a composer bar the door, but I am forbidden from attending first rehearsals at the Oregon Symphony. I understand that having a critic in the house can be unsettling. They’re unsettled, I’m unsettled, so everybody smiles a lot.

Anyway, I went to a rehearsal last night of Cappella Romana, the Portland choir that is premiering Robert Kyr’s new piece on the environment, “A Time For Life.”

Whoa. I’ve been listening to Kyr’s music for many years, and some of it has stirred me and some of it hasn’t. But even through the stops and starts last night, something powerful, perhaps extraordinary, came through. Eight singers, accompanied by the group, Medieval Strings, sing and drone and chant music from Eskimo, Ojibway, Pawnee, Navaho, biblical and Eastern Orthodox texts and prayers

Much beauty, much lyricism. The concert is at 8 p.m. Friday, St. Mary’s Cathedral.