Saturday, July 3, 2010

Balance Issues

Last night, the 3-D Trio presented our Patriotic program at Buntyn Presbyterian Church. The recital went well for the most part and everyone seemed to have enjoyed the music. The only frustration on the part of the performers were all related to issues of balance.

Buntyn is a beautiful facility with high ceilings and lots of exposed wood. The acoustics are wonderful. There is one major problem for me though: the piano (a 5'4" baby grand) is not located on the stage, but sits on the floor at the front of the congregation. My colleagues opt to stand on the stage above me while I'm on the floor. I understand the desire to utilize the stage as is, but also know that the arrangement is making balance issues extremely difficult.

In order to allow the flute to take full advantage of the piano's resonance, we always play with the lid on short stick (at least). In an effort to lessen the overpowering tendencies of the piano in this arrangement, we have turned the piano around so the sound is shooting upstage; the result is that there is a nice balance in the performing area, but that the sound is bouncing off the back wall and giving the audience a double dose of piano! Our dilemma was further compounded last night by the selection of repertoire that was not in an optimum range for our soprano, requiring that she use a microphone for the entire recital. Throw in a lot of piccolo (an instrument that I HATE trying to accompany because of the inherent balance issues) and you are beginning to understand my frustrations.

The obvious solution to my mind is to use a traditional standing arrangement. However, if my colleagues are not willing to make this concession, what options do you see other than playing the entire program una corda? This space is baffling to me at the moment. I'll try to post a video in the near future from this space so you can see and hear the issues.

What have been your worst arrangement issues that caused you balance issues? How did you combat it? Once I come up with a solution for this performance space that we will continue to use (since it is free and readily available to our ensemble upon request), I'll let you know what we're doing and how it's working for us.

Now I'm going to try to catch up on some rest and arms and shoulders are killing me at the moment!