After a manic few weeks, I feel that the beginning of this week brought a little respite for me. Something that almost never happens, happened. Yes, we played a programme that comprised of music I had already played!

For the last in our Symphony series we performed one of Shostakovich's shortest symphonies, the ninth, and also one of Sibelius' shortest, number seven. Having played them both before, I just had to take a little time on Sunday evening to tighten up a few corners in each work (giving me lots of time to catch up with the latest episode of The Killing).

It's been lovely seeing the Symphony series so well attended - there's been a good buzz about it. It's also been very nice to have a programme that concentrates on just one work (or in the finale's two-for-the-price-of-one extravaganza, two symphonies).

The second half of this week will see us present a composer portrait on French composer Andre Jolivet. The soloists will be Marc Coppey (cello) and our own Jarek Augustyniak (bassoon). As I've mentioned before, it is lovely to hear our own principals take the role of soloist.

Now, I'm pretty sure Jolivet was mentioned during one of my Music of the Twentieth Century lectures at uni, but I may have been daydreaming a little and can remember nothing about him (apologies to Dr Morris). Therefore, I have done a little research.

It turns out Jolivet was one of the cool kids of French music in the 1930s and was in a club with Messiaen called, rather unoriginally, La Jeune France. I've always been partial to a bit of Messiaen (though consider the omission of a viola from the Quartet for the End of Time a major oversight which he must have regretted), so I'm pretty upbeat about getting to know Jolivet's music.

I've been trawling Spotify, iTunes and all the usual places to find recordings of the works that we are performing. I find when you are slightly short on time it's very helpful to be able to listen to the work you're performing as well as learning the notes - it can give you a much better sense of the bigger picture rather than simply getting bogged down with little bits.

My search was surprisingly unfruitful, so while I'm getting to know the viola part in my own practice, I still feel a little clueless as to how it fits in context with the rest of the orchestra.

Composer portrait days give the audience and the orchestra an opportunity to delve a little deeper into the work of a composer. The concert will start with Debussy's Nocturnes (very nice piece). Debussy was a huge influence on Jolivet, so it'll be interesting to hear if his influence is evident in the Jolivet we perform. I'm still undecided as to what I think of his music, but I'm sure all will be revealed when we start rehearsing...

The orchestra will be performing an evening of music by Jolivet at BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff Bay, tomorrow (Friday 2 December) at 7pm. Tickets are available by calling the Orchestra's Audience Line on 0800 052 1812.


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