When I used to live in downtown Long Beach, I got season tickets to the concerts of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. LBSO, under conductor JoAnn Falletta, was excellent; they probably still are. Back in the early 1990s, in my opinion, they had a great balance between more familiar traditional classical music, plus contemporary and premier pieces – sometimes Latin American and other overlooked composers whom I hadn’t been familiar with.
One day I received, in the mail, one of those donor letters that asks if I have overpriced stocks or vacation homes that I would like to donate to LBSO. I wrote that, even though I don’t have extra homes lying around, I am an artist, and I think tossed in a photocopy of a drawing I’d done of a string quartet, and mailed it back. I’d done this with this type of solicitation before and hadn’t heard back… and didn’t really expect to hear back.
But, this time, I did.
I got a call from an orchestra fundraising person, Christopher. He invited me to attend rehearsals and sketch the orchestra. So, from time to time, I did. Mostly just pen on paper; some with watercolor. After showing a few to Christopher, he posted some where orchestra members could see them. A few of the musicians expressed to me that they liked the drawings.
Christopher got framing donated, and most of these were sold at a couple of LBSO fundraiser auctions. I kept photocopies – that I’ve scanned here. Most were just black and white, a couple included color, but I just have black and white copies of those.
I like the informality of these drawings: casual dress, coats hung on backs of chairs, sheet music folder leaning against the conductor’s platform, etc. It’s uncommon to see classical musicians not wearing formal gowns and tuxedos.
I really like artists’ processes (see here for a post where I touched on this.) Experiencing a polished performance/concert is great… but I also really like to sit in on rehearsals. I like to see how much effort goes into making things look effortless. The conductor would stop a piece, and ask for something different, saying things like “can I get the horns to come in more softly and the build quickly – like da-dah-dah-DUH-DAH – starting from 19.” Then they would run through it, and I would hear some difference. I am not a classical music expert, so a lot of the subtleties were lost on me. Nonetheless I really enjoyed getting the rare treat of both rehearsal and performance… and I have some drawings to show for it, the majority of which (ones that I think turned out well) I’ve scanned and posted here.
I changed jobs, then moved to Los Angeles in 1996, and stopped going to LBSO stuff when it became easier to bike to L.A. Phil performances, which I attended quite often when I first moved here, and still do, now and then.
This week I was down in Long Beach, and met a friend of a friend who works for LBSO… so I dug up my old drawings folder and scanned and posted all these.
(Note: Since 2009, I’ve been posting my newest artwork at Handmade Ransom Notes. I post all kinds of random stuff here at Periodic Fable, including some older art, mainly when I get around to scanning it. Apologies to folks who think I should just post everything in one place.)