My Long Beach Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal Sketches


Long Beach Symphony Orchestra rehearsal 15 November 1993, ink on paper

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.

Long Beach Symphony Orchestra rehearsal 11 January 1994

Long Beach Symphony Orchestra rehearsal 11 January 1994

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.

Long Beach Symphony Orchestra rehearsal 12 January 1994

Long Beach Symphony Orchestra rehearsal 13 January 1994

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.

Long Beach Symphony Orchestra rehearsal 1 February 1994, from a black and white photocopy of an original watercolor

Long Beach Symphony Orchestra rehearsal 2 February 1994, from a black and white photocopy of an original watercolor

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.

David Tanenbaum in rehearsal with the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, 3 February 1994

(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.)

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6 Responses to “My Long Beach Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal Sketches”

  1. Donna Hancock Says:

    Hi Joe – I do the layout/format of the quarterly Long Beach Symphony volunteer newsletter. I’m working on an issue now. I’d love to include that top image, as many of us are from the “old days” of JoAnn Falletta. I’ve downloaded the JPG, but I’m asking your permission first.

  2. Donna Hancock Says:

    Hi Joe – I’m finishing up the newsletter and thought I’d add a second image. I like the one labelled lbso-94feb1. But that one is much lower resolution than 93nov15 (the only one I’d planned to use). Do you have a higher resolution copy of that 94feb1? Thanks!

  3. Duc Nguyen Says:

    Hi Joe,

    I’m a graphic designer in Vietnam and my company are about to organize a street concerto. It’s free entrance and for the sake of the community. Can I use one of your image – lbso-94jan12.jpg – to design a backdrop for the concerto? We are very appreciated your help!

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