Today was the first major rehearsal with Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), organist Cameron Carpenter, and the Orchestra for Henry Brant’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Ice Field. Read more about the piece in our post from last week. It’s a doozy!
With groups of musicians spread everywhere high and low, we can’t imagine a more elaborate setup. In fact, the work was commissioned specifically for Davies Symphony Hall by Other Minds.
SFS Percussionist James Lee Wyatt is perched atop the 2nd Tier with a xylophone and glockenspiel…
…right below Wyatt in the 1st Tier, conductor Edwin Outwater (also our Director of Summer Concerts) leads a “jazz band” of brass with Principal Percussionist Jacob Nissly on drum set.
Nissly admitted it was probably the oddest location he’d played in since joining the SFS. But you’ll be blown away by what he plays during the piece!
Across the 2nd Tier from the xylophone is a group of piccolo, flutes and clarinets…
…down below in two of the side boxes, percussionist Tom Hemphill rumbles a concert bass drum, with tam tam, steel drums and other goodies mixed in. We made sure these boxes weren’t sold for the concerts, as that might have been a rude awakening for a champagne-sipping patron!
Meanwhile on stage, Michael Tilson Thomas deftly leads the Orchestra with Cameron Carpenter at the organ to stage right.
During rehearsal, MTT’s voice is projected to various monitors around the Hall so the many groups of musicians can hear his detailed instructions.
Ice Field is quite challenging to put together, with “conversations” of musical phrases trading around the vast confines of Davies Symphony Hall one after another, often at different tempos and overlapping in unpredictable ways.
Despite the spatial challenges of the piece, by the middle of the afternoon, MTT and the musicians were satisfied and moved on to rehearse Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (yes, that’s why there’s a harpsichord in the middle of the stage), and Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony. They’ll get more time with Ice Field tomorrow morning before the 2 pm concert.
Wait, we forgot to mention - there’s even a group of oboes and bassoons in the Terrace!
Come experience the sonic surprises and delights of Henry Brant’s Ice Field tomorrow through Sunday at Davies Symphony Hall. We guarantee you’ve never heard anything like it (unless you were here for the world premiere in 2001!)
Michael Tilson Thomas conductor
Edwin Outwater conductor
Cameron Carpenter organ
San Francisco Symphony
J.S. Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, BWV 1048
Brant Ice Field
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64
Pre-Concert Talk: Elizabeth Seitz will give an “Inside Music” talk from the stage one hour prior to each concert. Free to all concert ticket holders; doors open 15 minutes before.
CD Signings: Cameron Carpenter will sign CDs in the Symphony Store immediately following the performance on Saturday, September 20.
Tickets are available at sfsymphony.org, by phone at 415-864-6000, and at the Davies Symphony Hall Box Office, on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street in San Francisco.