Day 2: Downbeat (by Greg Simon from the Melos Music blog)

Today marks the beginning of our week-long rehearsal binge to prepare for next Friday. Before beginning our whopping ten hours of rehearsal, we opted to scope out our digs around San Francisco Conservatory for a decent cup of coffee; we found it at a little joint called Ma’Velous, just down the street from the SFCM building.

Ma'Velous: Coffee so good, the logo doesn't need to be forward.

Freshly caffeinated, we held our first rehearsal in the late morning. Stepan Rudenko, pianist extraordinaire, kicked off the week with Greg Simon’s solo piano piece Blood on the Curb. Nick DiBerardino’s Home Suite and David Carpenter’s Trio followed shortly therafter, at which point it was time for even more coffee.

As the day grew older, the pieces got bigger; kicking off with Brian Penkrot’s Shooting Snowburst Spectacular Silhouette, the afternoon session saw us throw a conductor in the mix. Sometimes it was Greg waving the stick…

Greg rehearsing Ryan's "Magis"

… and sometimes it was Jason, as for his Berlin Songs.

Jason rehearsing "Berlin Songs"

Jason’s piece features the entire ensemble that’s covering this program of pieces (save for one pianist). These twelve musicians make up the ensembles for the entire program; some of them, like violinst Cassie Bequary, worked on five pieces, working six hours today. Say one thing about San Francisco musicians: they’ve got tons of energy. Of course, as we discovered, SF coffee sure helps.

Cassie Bequary and Matthias McIntire, violins

Matthias McIntire, violin; Preben Antonsen, piano; and Jon Szin, clarinet

Annie Suda, cello

Jason conducting "Berlin Songs"

Jeannie Psomas, clarinet

Stepan Rudenko, piano and Sung Bin Choi, cello

Day 1 ended at 9 o’clock, with Dan Temkin’s Butterflies and Dragons. A thoroughly exhausted bunch were we, but amazingly excited for the week which lies ahead. Over the course of the week we’ll use this space to introduce you to each piece on the concert; the core group of six in SF will talk a bit about their work for you, and we’ll post some sneak previews of the incredible sounds this crack team of twelve is producing. Check back!

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