COSTA MESA — Orchestration and instrumental color are a few of my favorite things. These sounds of music were the hot topics of discussion this past week at the Pacific Symphony's first program of the "Music Unwound" series.
Thursday night's pre-concert talk by Jonathan Beard was a great introduction to the concept of orchestration, the art of writing for the various instruments of the orchestra. He compared it to painters choosing colors that ultimately affect the mood and tone of their paintings. Music is the same way; even the same melody can take dramatically different turns, depending on which instruments are used to play it.
Participants had the chance to "orchestrate" by choosing the various sounds from a quintet — consisting of a violin, viola, trumpet, cello and clarinet — that then played the "Promenade" melody from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." I'm sure audience members found it enlightening when various orchestrations from "Pictures" were played one after another and evoked different emotions.