15. December 2009 · Comments Off on More On Nuts · Categories: Nutcracker

I was going to wait and post this later; I’m in the middle of painting a guest room here (Hmm. Is this really the best thing to do with my free time, I wonder?!) … but I’m thinking I should really post this before I forget. So here goes …

Symphony president Andrew Bales sent me a comment about the Nuts, in response to what I posted earlier. With his permission I’m posting his comments here for all. (I have told him that when I was librarian with San Jose Symphony eons ago the librarian of the Cleveland ballet really did tell me that three players were used for Nuts, but who knows why that was if he now says there were only two. Not a big deal, but thought I’d mention it. I didn’t want all of you to think I was making things up!)

Anyway, here’s his note to me:

The mixed up score for Nutcracker was created with a very specific purpose in mind. Just as musicians play this for generations, dancers perform it more than any other piece of repertory they will ever do. When Dennis and his partner Ernie conceived of this production they knew that Tchaikovsky wrote the score almost entirely in waltz time and this would make for a rather pallid mix over time. They interspersed other works by Tchaikovsky in order to offer them a variety of rhythms to makes dances to. As we are now celebrating the 30th anniversary of this production, it must have worked as both dancers and audiences still seem to love it. So all this mix up is not an arbitrary insertion, but a plan to enliven this stage work for generations.

Second, you noted that budget cuts eliminated the third oboe/English horn and that isn’t true. In Cleveland and in San Jose it was always done with two players, except for a period when the Ballet first came here and the old Symphony contract had more players in its A/B configuration than were ever used in Cleveland. The Symphony hired the extra players to fill out its service obligation to its A/B players so the Ballet had players in the pit
here that were never in the pit in Cleveland. For the old San Jose Symphony, it was cheaper to pay for a few extra players to perform with the Ballet than to find entire new productions that would use those same players.

This last point actually led to the formation of the Ballet Orchestra contract separate from SJS. Way back when the Ballet asked for a compliment of about 49-50 musicians and the SJS insisted on 61. The Ballet said yes (read me), but they would only pay for the 49-50 that they had always used. SJS said fine, but after several years and a few budget crisis
cycles the Symphony wanted to be paid for the entire 61-member ensemble. The Ballet said that was not the deal and that it could not go beyond the core it had always used in Cleveland. At that point an SJS administrator decided that the foundations were pushing SJS to do more education work so they would redirect the Ballet services into that field and drop the Ballet. This prompted me to form the new Ballet contract which eventually evolved to the successor symphony to SJS. So the moral is—wait for it — woe be
he/she who fails to play Nutcracker.

& just so you all know, I’m now working on the next set (along with my painting project, that is) … Nutcracker is rolling along just fine, and next up is Scheherazade. I definitely need to start that now, even while I’m only playing second and English horn. It does have some notes! 🙂

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