Conducting while no music plays

Our music director, Warren Cohen, approaches poetry in the program notes for the May 14 concert. They are insightful and thoughtful, as always. And, in explaining why these pieces, poetic.
The concert at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts opens with Alfred Schnitkke’s Moz-Art a La Haydn, which begins “in total darkness, as the (socially distanced) players play quasi-improvised patterns that suggest no coherent vision.”
It ends in similar fashion with the musicians leaving the stage one by one, again playing fragments of music. “The conductor is left alone on the stage, instructed to continue conducting while no music is being played. … Although written in 1977, it sounds like it was written specifically to reintroduce live music to an audience after a pandemic!”
Or of Hayden’s Symphony No. 45 “Farewell,” famously written with musicians leaving the stage one by one to encourage Prince Esterhazy to let the orchestra go home to their families, Maestro Cohen writes:
“As the string players slowly leave, the concertmaster and his or her stand partner take center stage. The music ends in a mood of melancholic nostalgia, a kind of ‘smile through tears.’ With our performance coming as we slowly emerge from the horrors of a pandemic, the gesture of this finale is both a reminder of those we have lost, and a statement of our resilience, a resilience we share with those Esterhazy musicians of 1772.”
Read his full program notes here, and then join us (at the theater or via livestream) May 14 to hear this amazing music. Click below for tickets.

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