Weasel Walter Large Ensemble

It’s been almost two weeks since this date. Sorry for the delay – I know people are anxiously waiting for this posting to come out….
So Weasel Walter was egged on by Sara Lockhart at 21 Grand to write a piece – some would call it a commission. He decided to resurrect a project started several years back – a long form work for nine musicians with interchangeable parts allowing every member of the ensemble both an opportunity to act as soloist and conductor. A good idea for the type of ensemble – one where everyone is an improviser and good ones at that, so that their personalities can have a chance to come through.
The difficulty with long works for large ensembles lies in the rehearsal situation. With the amount of time people have and the lack of money in the non-marketable niche of the music-industry we find ourselves in, it’s hard for people to devote time to large projects, mainly because getting everyone to have available time at the same time is near-impossible. For this group, getting nine people once together meant having 5 people rehearse once and 5 people rehearse the other time, and one run-through of the piece the night of the concert. This is pretty much the status quo in many such situations and someday things will be better, we can hope.
Not to say that the results of this night were bad – in fact the music turned out quite well, though I’m still firmly convinced that the more you play material, the more there is to be discovered in it and the more the music can really be influenced by the players, as opposed to the players making the more obvious choices of interpretation.

We were able to record the whole concert and listening back to it now, I’m impressed with how the personalities of and the decisions made by the players developed the piece, which featured several sections of soloist playing over backgrounds based on a tone row followed by cadenza, into one that has it’s fair share of peaks, valleys and surprises. Sections are developed and segue into each other, the overall feel of the ensemble changes gradually over time and the playing of all is both high quality and personal.