Friday, April 9, 2010

The Nashville Experience

This is Dan Temkin checking in again. I am writing after two days of hard work with Maestro Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony. It has been an amazing and intense process to bring to life four challenging and stylistically varied works within a few days time. I am truly amazed and impressed by how successful the final performances of each piece went, and we owe many thanks to Maestro Guerrero’s efficiency on the podium as well as to the professionalism of the orchestra who worked steadily with an open mind in order to perform our works so musically.

On Day 1 we were thrust into a live working rehearsal where the orchestra was hearing our music for the very first time; it was essential to work quickly and to try to understand what problems the orchestra could fix on their own and what problems we needed to point out verbally in order for the musicians to understand our compositional ideas. The musicians had prepared the music very well prior to the first rehearsal and many solo passages and complex percussion set-ups had been completely dissected before the first downbeat. This helped things run very smoothly and as problems arose, members of the orchestra asked concise, direct, questions, in order to solve any issues that were hindering the best performance of our music. After the initial reading we had a meeting with Maestro Guerrero, the librarians, and a few select players from the orchestra, where many suggestions were made to improve our pieces. This session was extremely helpful, but also very intense, as many of the details of our pieces were scrutinized in order to help us understand how our music could be made stronger.

On Day 2 we went back into the beautiful Schermerhorn Hall ready to move forward with our music. From the very first notes played by the orchestra it was clear that the previous day’s work had already sunk into the players’ minds. As each piece was rehearsed it seemed that many subtle nuances within each score were beginning to line up and the music was slowly crystallizing before our eyes and ears. The final performance of each work was exhilarating and I could not be more pleased with how my piece Regenerations sounded by the end of the rehearsal.

This has been a humbling and powerful experience for me. The insights I have gained into the way orchestras work in rehearsal and performance have been invaluable. I am so grateful to all of the people who have made this possible at ACO and Earshot. I want to especially thank Maestro Guerrero and NSO, as well as Emma McLeod, Robert Beaser, Jennifer Higdon, Edgar Meyer, Ed Harsh, Cindi Hubbard, John Glover, and Jenny Kampmeier. I also want to express my thanks to my colleagues Ryan, Chiayu, and Michael who are all immensely talented composers and insightful musicians; it has been an honor to share this experience with you.


1. Daniel Temkin speaks to the audience before the Nashville Symphony reads his piece. 
2. A group shot of the whole Nashville EarShot gang.

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