Concert Wrap-up: January 15

It’s been a few days since our concert on January 15. I’ve been meaning to write a “self-review,” but other needs have been pressing. So, a few days late, here are some thoughts on our performance at First Presbyterian Church in Arlington Heights.

I'm glad it's labeled "Double Bass Ensemble;" it's a better explanation of what we are, until we're world-famous.

I had a really great feeling of kind of “floating” through the performance. In the past, I’ve often felt that I had to be working really “hard” to perform successfully. I think that I didn’t really believe I was playing unless I was sweating bullets.

But I prepared a little differently for this performance. I spent a good deal of time, especially in the last week, practicing slowly. My goal for the week before the performance was to play each piece once each day at half tempo. The theory behind this is that if you can’t play a shift or a rhythm properly slowly, there’s no way you’ll be able to play it fast. Train your body to play accurately at a slow tempo and when the tempo is fast, muscle memory will take over for you.

I’m pleased at the outcome of the concert. I had worried that we hand’t truly had enough rehearsal time, and while there were a few slip-ups (you know who you are!), I think we played well. The concert was well-received by a good-sized audience. Ken Whitney, the Music Director and our contact at the church was pleased with our presentation and complimented us on Facebook. I was very happy to see work colleagues Vince Mease and Laura Claggett, and friends Ann Wilson and Dave Newcorn in the audience.

In an earlier post on this site, I discussed some of my thoughts on designing the concert experience. Here are a few reflections on what I set out to do about the design of the concert.

Understanding the Audience: I never did actually ask Ken what he considered to be the “demographic” of the audience for this concert. I played my hunch, and I think I got it right. I introduced most of the pieces with some anecdote or a bit of something to “hold on to” as the audience listened, and although I don’t have any proof, I believe that people appreciated that “softening” or “humanizing” of the concert experience.

Pacing: Good, but not great pacing, I think. The motets were possibly too lugubrious and softly played. rather than a chance to cleanse one’s sonic palette, they might have been a bit solemn. I didn’t get any specific reaction, but as we played Ultra-Rondo I wondered if I had kept my word that even the modern pieces we played wouldn’t be jarring. I certainly don’t consider that piece jarring–after all, it’s not atonal or serial music–but did it take the audience too far? Maybe someone will let me know.

Peak-End Effect: Here, I think I got it just right. Both halves of the program ended with exciting, upbeat pieces. A few people remarked to me that A Night in Compostela was their favorite piece, and in that case, they left the hall with it fully in their ears.

The bottom line? Success. I’m very pleased with the way this turned out, and I’m looking forward to our next two engagements. I offer my thanks to my colleagues Anton Hatwich, Julian Romane and Dan Thatcher as well as to Ken Whitney and the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights.

If you missed us January 15, First Presbyterian did record the performance, and has made it available on through a webcast: Chicago Bass Ensemble performance part 1 and part 2. (Regrettably, the microphones were not well-positioned for our performance, so the volume is low, but you can at least get a sense of the performance.)

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