Dimitri as director

Last night Barry called in sick to klez (his back is bothering him — he can’t stand and hold an accordion) and Dimitri took over as director.

I’ve felt for a long time that Dimitri is a better musician than any of the rest of us. He told us last night about some of his background that I didn’t know. He started on the violin about sixty years ago and played upright string bass professionally at some point, probably back when he lived in Ukraine.

One time when he was playing bass for an opera the bridge of his instrument fell down with a noise that made people think a pistol had been fired. He knew how many measures of rest he had until his next entrance, counted them while he put the bridge back up, and came back in on time.

We only played four different songs, but went over them in such detail that they sounded lots better than they ever have before. First, “On the first part, the first four measures mezzo forte, then when you get to the di-di-dah, di-di-dah on the next measure, fortissimo, then back to mezzo forte. Second time through that section, piano the whole way.” Dynamics! what a concept! Then, “On the second part, first time through, just clarinet, violins, piano, and bass. Second time through, trumpet and flute also.” Orchestration! Then, “better, but you [flute] are playing everything staccatto. You [clarinet] are playing everything legato. You all have to play the same way. On the groups of four eighth notes, the first two should be slurred and the next two separate.” Articulation! So by the time we finished, it was sounding like music rather than like a lot of people playing a lot of notes.

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