Here’s an update from KCB Music Director Ramona Pansegrau as she guest conducts at the International Ballet Competition! In this guest post, Ms. Pansegrau discusses how the music is chosen for the awards gala. Surprisingly, the orchestra only has enough time for one rehearsal before the performance!
Today I spent most of the morning and afternoon checking music. Preparing the orchestra for Jackson is a bit of a journey. Actual preparation started months ago. The orchestra plays the opening ceremonies with predefined music. However, the awards gala at the end of the competition is an entirely different matter! The winners are chosen after the final round of competition in the third week. From the repertory the winners have competed with, a gala program is chosen – and that is what the orchestra will play. I am usually called in to the jury room after the winners have been determined – which is well into the early hours of the morning. At the point the gala program is decided, it’s usually around 3 am. My orchestra rehearsal with that music is at 11 am – a mere 8 hours later. That means the orchestra will have one rehearsal alone to prepare – and I have to have every piece of music that the competitors have competed with over 3 weeks available for them. Kudos to Richard Hudson, the Mississippi Symphony librarian who keeps track of the boxes of music that come in over several months. I borrow, rent, or buy what I can find – sometimes writing things out from audio recordings – whatever it takes. The orchestra has piles of scores to practice, some of which are very difficult. So for tonight’s rehearsal, I rehearsed music for Saturday as well as taking the opportunity to touch on a few of the larger pas de deux that may show up. We crammed as much into that 2 1/2 hours as humanly possible – and the orchestra was really wonderful as I did my energizer bunny imitation moving through the repertory. For the opening ceremony, I actually got to chose works that fit the occasion – as a ballet conductor, that’s a luxury, as I usually play the repertory chosen for the season. So, on Saturday the evening with open with an orchestral overture – I’ve chosen the wonderful “invitation to the Dance” by Weber. The jury will enter to Act 1 Scene 1 of Swan Lake – a rousing, joyous work. The parade of nations – yes, just like the Olympics – will be to Pomp and Circumstance 4 (not your high school graduation Pomp – that’s number 3) – and the flame will be lit to the inspiring music of Copland – Fanfare to the Common Man. Next rehearsal is Saturday afternoon for a dress and then Saturday night is the opening. Tomorrow – all the jury arrives, dancers start teaching in the theater as Jackson goes into full gear – and the evening is a reception at the governor’s mansion. Much more to come!