Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The Gong Show
The conductor of the Waukegan Symphony is always finding unusual, interesting pieces for us to play. For example, we played Reve Angelique by Anton Rubenstein and Overture to Struensee by Meyerbeer, two pieces I had never heard of, on our fall concert. (We also play standard repertoire.) Last night was a first for me as 4th horn. As you can see in the photo above, the 4th horn part to Berceuse elegiaque by Busoni is for Horn IV and Gong! Talk about unusual doublings!
Thanks to our 2nd horn, who ran into the percussion room to find a gong, I played the gong part after a brief lesson by my husband (a school band director who plays tuba in the orchestra). Gong is not easy. You have warm it up by hitting it gently so that it doesn't make a sound but starts to vibrate. Then you have to hit it in the right spot or you don't get much of a sound. Then there was the roll with crescendo-decrescendo at the end of the piece. Once you get the gong to crescendo, it's like a runaway train; very difficult to stop. So there wasn't much of a decrescendo last night.
The real percussionists will play the gong on the concert, but it was fun!