In a coaching of Mozart’s Viola quintet in C minor, I was looking at a score to resolve bowing issues. I held the book in my hand while I studied the respective part on the stand in front of me to come to a conclusion for what I was dissecting, and I leaned over to the second violin and confirmed that the parts were fucked. Absolutely different markings. Stefan Hersh looked at me waiting for my report, and I stated, “It’s not the same…”. Then something within me told me to make a crude gesture to exhibit my disappointment and disgust so I put my hand to my mouth, puffed out my cheeks and made a fake vomiting sound. Hersh pointed at me from four feet away and began laughing. He laughed hysterically for about 20 seconds. A few months later he asked me what I thought about Sarah Palin.
In a coaching with Roger Chase, my group was working on the last movement of the same Mozart Quintet. We played through the movement for him and he asked, “Why did Mozart write this in 2/4 instead of 4/4?” We all stared blankly at our music, like if we looked at it long enough some answer would come. Wishful thinking. “For tempo?” one of us responded. “Right. What purpose does that have?” Again we studied our music. The answers weren’t in code on the pages. We just played the answers. Not one of us could come up with anything to say. Chase led us with more questions about how we felt when we play it. We were eventually led to say it was intended this music have a sense of urgency. But Chase wanted more. We discussed chords and dissonances, notes that have carrots and accents. Hints of laments and a rhythmic push to keep things energetic. “He’s pleading. He’s saying, ‘I want to please you, but I can’t. I don’t have the ability to.’”
In a performance with conductor James Paul, we were almost at the end of An American In Paris by George Gershwin. During the bass clarinet solo, Paul pretended to yell a yearning “STELLA!” at the soloist.