Sarah Huebsch, oboe and English horn
I believe that the oboe is made for three purposes: sex, death, and shepherds.
In Three Cornered Hat by Manuel de Falla in the second movement, it starts out with this big, rambunctious horn solo. As usual, in the English horn part, there are a few interesting things going on, but no one knows who you are until after that horn solo. Nothing is going on except for you.
I know a lot of players, including myself, will make a different reed for this solo than any other English horn part. It requires you to play really loud in a really low register on this instrument that doesn’t project that well.
Sarah Paradis, trombone
Wagner, Mahler, Strauss – those are huge composers for brass. To play or to watch, it’s going to be really exciting as a brass player.
The Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin by Richard Wagner… There are definitely some tricky licks in there; forceful, loud, but also very quick. So, getting the notes to speak in the low register can be tough.
In Richard Strauss’s tone poems, the brass play lots of huge chords and it’s really exciting, and then for about 15 minutes we have to sit out and listen to solos so that the strings can be heard, and the oboe solos and the flute solos can come through.
Dani Meier, double bass
Bass is a soft instrument, for as big as it is. But, if you have the right bass section for that right moment when they are actually highlighted, you may not know what they’re playing or you don’t hear them, but you can feel them.
Death and Transfiguration by Richard Strauss is absolutely wonderful. It requires a combination of endurance and agility around the instrument, which is very typical of Strauss – a lot of arpeggios and chromatics. But it’s all so gratifying when you put it together, even though you can’t hear yourself because the low brass is covering you up!
Sarah Kidd, conductor
Conductors have the best repertoire – and, just making music with people. Being able to look into someone’s eyes and shape a phrase together, that just seems like magic.
Xian Zhang will be conducting Symphony no. 2 by Jean Sibelius with the Festival Orchestra, and I can tell you, it’s fantastic. Her interpretation of the piece is absolutely beautiful.
Of course, I’ve conducted Symphony no. 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven. There are some tricky things in there, especially at the beginning of the last movement. The way it begins, there is a fermata on the first measure, and then the first violin section has these entrances after rests. In silence, the conductor is really important because the orchestra can’t listen for context. They have to watch to know when to place the notes, how to place the notes.