7 years ago

Volume 6 Issue 1 - September 2000

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BEHIND THE SCENES, CONTINUED Me: You make it sound like a rescue squad. Alan: When a singer goes on stage, the last thing they're thinking about is the music - they are thinking about costumes, blocking, shoes. . We music performers are very like the guy who throws himself in front of the president and takes the bullet. If you have to make a choice, you've got to save the people on stage. Ahd there is not one of us but all-of us would do the necessary. Me: Is there any reason you have chosen this way to make a living? Alan shrugs: Last night some people played Beethoven at Massey Hall. Mostly they play Beethoven at Roy Thomson Hall. This week I'm playing My Fair Lady at Jane Mallet Theatre, last week I was at the Air Canada Centre with Placido Domingo, the week before I was at The Hummingbird Centre doing Pelleas et Melisande with the Canadian Opera Company. Me: You like the variety? ,Alan: I find that being fluid helps 'me, but it's not good to be forced into that kind of variety. In England, the same 70 musicians do everything - ballet, symphony, opera, chamber, shows. A conductor from Czechoslovakia, now in England, complained to me that he always felt that he was getting the last conductor's performance. Me: How did you get started in music? Alan: I started on piano, then had a little bit of French horn, my mother played it. My wife plays French horn, my older son's fiancee plays French horn ~ . she's doing her master's at Juilliard. We're not sure whether it's a defective gene in the men of my family, that they can't resist French horn players, or a defective gene that makes certain women want to play French horn and marry Molitz's. My wife and I were both students at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. When I married Nancy her teacher was very, very unhappy. Alan chuckles ·at the memory. In fact, he hated my guts. Me: Any teachers you especially remember? · Alan: All my t~achers have been great in one way or another. There was a bass teacher and a music teacher at school. One was a gentlemen, an artist, a rttorn: DEN C1uL wonderful person, the other was the complete opposite, so I already knew , there were possibilities. When I was still quite young I went to study with Mr. Scott, that's Roger Scott, principal bass withthe Philadelphia Orchestra for 50 years. I unwrapped my bass and I thought, 'He knows everything, I know nothing.' I think that must have been plain on my face and in my body. I think that's why he took me at such an early age. Mr. Zimmer at Eastman was not a pedagogue, he was a natural, his knowledge was hard-wired within him. I sat in back of him in the B minor flute suite, it was just continuo, but oh! I .. couldn't believe it, this is what continuo is about! ' Alan (after a pause, with a wry smile): I learned my craft twice, you know. Multiple sclerosis put me out of commission for a lot of time. I got hit very hard at the front, now I'm in verfgood condition, all things considered. On the one hand it's a miracle, on the other there is no way to know what's going to happen. I couldn't have done it alone, my wife was the mos~ important, and two doctors out of a bunch of baloney. You have to go slowly. Alan continues: I also have great , opportunities to learn from the people I work with. Mr. Mannino that's Maestro Franco Mannino. ' He always made the space in the performance, and he taught me that I can make a space that is larger . . You know Douglas Bodle, he teaches at Uoff. He' makes the place for things to happen. He is dynamite! He's the power behind so many Canadian talents. Maureen Forrester - what a wonderful person! Placido Domingo, he's got the strength of 40 men! And he's a great man, a great example. Frederica von Stade, a great woman. Me, curious : Ever run into any non-wonderful people? Alan thinks about that one: I won't give ariy names. I know someone who had a career with a repertoire of eight pieces - the career couch isn't only in Hollywood. And there was a European conductor came to Ottawa, he looked at the publicity, the posters and all, and figured, 'Well, I must be God's gift to somebody.' He got so hard to deal with that they let him go in six months. Not that he was a bad person, he just didn't understand North American marketing. When that sort of thing happens, I figure the best thing to do is shut up a.nd play what's in front of me. Play the music the best I can. Even simple music is hard, and if you do it correctly, it's even harder. Me: What drew you into the pit, so to speak? Alan: I grew up outside New York City, I spent as much time as I could at the shows. I thought all angels had really fat legs, because they used the dancers in the Christmas ' shows - those girls had great calf development! I saw Oklahoma!, Kismet ... these new shows I don't know. I always made sure to be right behind the conductor. That's how I found out that the harp doesn't have this wash of sound, it's points. Me: So it was the shows that made you decide to be a musician? Alan: No, I wanted to be a bi~chemist. 36 Wholenote SEPTEMBER 1, 2000 - ocroBER 7, 2000

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