Classically Trained: Getting ready for some musical Shakespeare

April 26, 2012|By Bradley Zint

Editor's note: This column is the third in a series about Bradley Zint's participation in OC Can You Play With Us?, an initiative where he and other Orange County amateur musicians will play alongside the Pacific Symphony professionals. The columns will run through May.


LAGUNA WOODS — For weeks I've been playing my French horn by myself.

It has been hours in the practice chair, playing to the monotonous tunes of scales, arpeggios, lip slurs and other simple exercises.

Sadly, it's been a symphony of one amounting to a symphony of none.

My daily buzzing isn't much within the horrible acoustics of my practice space: my bedroom and living room (and once in our newspaper's conference room).


All such practicing in such spaces is for the Pacific Symphony's OC Can You Play With Us? initiative. For it, I want to be prepared for my amateur and professional musical colleagues, and the audience.

It's fun to practice, though it is work. And going at it alone only goes so far. Then came Saturday, April 14.

When I walked onto the Geneva Presbyterian Church's campus in Laguna Woods, a few signs directed the musicians to the first and only reading rehearsal for OC Can You Play With Us?

But, at that point, I didn't really need them. The hundred or so musicians who had arrived before me were already warming up. The collective cacophony of their efforts could easily be heard from the parking lot.

The noise was the inadvertent guide leading me to the rehearsal room and eventually to my seat as one in a section of 10 French horns.

That's a lot of French horns in just about any setting, professional or amateur.

So many would-be godly voices. And they struggle to be that way on stubbornly difficult instruments.

That afternoon was the first time I had played in a group setting in several years. It was also the first time I'd sat within an orchestra in nearly a decade.

It was great to be back where brass players buzz, woodwinds blow and string players apply bow to string.

Once seated, I put this year's OC Can You Play With Us? repertoire on my stand: Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet."

The Russian composer wrote the music in the 1930s. It was for a ballet interpretation of the iconic Shakespeare story.

Prokofiev's score is complex and difficult. The music for the story of star-crossed lovers calls for bluster and subtlety, splendor and atrocity, triumph and pain. It's not for the faint of heart, playing- or listening-wise.

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