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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sweden – 6, 7, 8 May 2008

Tuesday morning the 6th was a resumption of rehearsals for the Vårkonsert with RK. It was a good rehearsal on this repertoire, although unfortunately our friend Eva Wedin had caught a cold and lost her voice. Meanwhile, Kathryn and my parents went to Uppsala and saw the town, Cathedral, some of the university, and the house and garden of the famous Swedish botanist, Linneus. After they returned, we had dinner together.

A picture from the Linné garden:

Wednesday afternoon was the rehearsal with RK and Chapter Two. Earlier in the day, Kath and my parents wandered around downtown, then came to Berwaldhallen for the rehearsal. I met with Johan Norberg, Nils Landgren (Chapter Two—see my earlier post here) and Mikael Engström before rehearsal around 3 PM to go over how the collaborative pieces would work. Mikael, who is the frequent accompanist for RK (and a marvel at it) was acting as producer for the concert (in charge of what was happening on stage and in the booth).

Me with Mikael:

Boel Adler was also there, as she’ll be the announcer for the concert (which will be broadcast live). Boel used to sing regularly with RK, now works on air, but still sings as an extra now and then (I’d met her before and she also sang with the choir for the Brahms Requiem I’ll tell you about shortly).

Johan and Nils are truly amazing musicians. I’ve always had enormous respect for jazz players and their ability to improvise, but these two are incredible in every way. Johan is one of the most active studio musicians in Stockholm and Nils lives and teaches in Germany, but is on the road up to 250 days a year, playing and recording. He’s appeared on more than 500 recordings and can play amazingly high, soft, fast, or whatever (and is also a very good jazz singer).

The rehearsal went well as we adjusted to the acoustics (well, that was just me—I don’t have experience in Berwaldhallen as the others do—not the easiest acoustic to work in), figured out levels for amplification of the guitar and trombone, placed the choir members, the recording engineers sorted out levels for the broadcast, and we rehearsed all repertoire, but worked particularly on the pieces we were doing with Chapter Two (Morley, Stanford, Rutter, and "All Through the Night"—we never got the arrangement Arne wanted, so used another). This was the last full rehearsal on this repertoire (we’ll have an hour in the hall on Friday between 5:30 and 6:30 PM). Nice for my folks to be able to be there and see me work with this choir (they were impressed and said, “We know why you like working with this choir!”).

Thursday we all went to Stadshuset (City Hall) and took the tour. Even though we see the tower from Gunilla’s apartment and had walked around the courtyard, Kath and I’d never taken the tour, which was excellent. The Nobel Prize banquet takes place there and the various public rooms (the city government does work here, too) are gorgeous.

Sitting outside Stadshuset:

Afterwards we went for lunch on Gamla Stan, and then took the bus out to Skansen, which is a park on Djurgården with buildings from different historical periods. I didn’t go, since I had a rehearsal at 3:30, so took a short walk, and then went to the Radio. Kath and my folks had a great time there, the weather beginning to warm up.

My rehearsal today was for the Brahms Requiem, which RK will do (along with extra singers, 48 in total) later this month with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev. This is the only chorus rehearsal before meeting with the orchestra, not too unusual for such a standard work. There were probably 8 or 9 singers working for the first time with RK and there was a fair amount of over-singing in the first half of the rehearsal. The second half I primarily worked to get them to sing softer (we did a lot of a cappella work), although one never knows what the eventual conductor will do—it’s a large orchestra, not a lot of singers, so they could have to sing out the whole time. Hopefully they won’t—the Brahms doesn’t need it and can be quite subtly sung—as I told the choir, it’s not hard just to sing loud all the time! They’ll do a beautiful job. I also chatted at break with one of the extra tenors, who sings in a barbershop quartet and loves it—his quartet just won the Swedish championship and will go to the finals of the international competition in Nashville.

After the rehearsal I took a cab back to the apartment, picked up Kath and my folks, and we went out to Arne and Birgit Lundmark’s apartment. We went to a local restaurant and had a drink while waiting for Birgit—she was at a meeting with the Swedish equivalent of their condo board. We then had a nice dinner together, followed by dessert and coffee back at their apartment. As I’ve noted before on the blog, Arne and Birgit are just great people, and everyone had a wonderful time talking, eating, and talking. We got back around 11:30 PM after a great day.

Arne & Birgit:

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