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For the week of August 2 through 8, 2000

Classically hot

Alasdair NealeOnce music director Alasdair Neale (left) began the season's first rehersal of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony's 2000 season on Sunday afternoon, thoughts of a hot summer day were lost amid concentration on performing works by Mozart and Elgar. While the symphony was rehearsing, Carl EberlCarl Eberl (right) who in 1985, founded the popular concerts, reviewed some of the scores. Eberl, the symphony's conductor laureate, was succeeded by Neale in 1995. Sunday evening, as expected, more than a thousand music lovers packed the white tent on the Sun Valley Esplanade and picknicked in the grass as another symphony season commenced.

Sure, it was in-the-90s hot. But, after all, these are world class musicians and their artistry reflected it.

On Sunday afternoon, the first rehearsal of the 16th season of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony was held on the Sun Valley Esplanade.

Express photo by Willy CookAt 1:30 p.m., about 90 musicians, mostly from American orchestras, gathered under the big white tent to renew friendships, enjoy the Sun Valley ambiance and, of course, to play great classical music.

Their casual hot weather dress—many in shorts and T-shirts—belied the fact that they would have to wear formal attire for that night’s concert.

To be sure, not all of the musicians thought the summer heat was stifling.

"Compared to the East Coast, this is nothing," said Mark Paxson, 38, a violinist with the Boston Pops. "I love the mountains. I love being out West."

Express photo by Willy CookThe musicians said, though, they have to be aware of the heat and the altitude to make compensating adjustments on their instruments.

Actually, the rehearsal schedule was more challenging than the weather. That’s because there’s only one rehearsal before each performance. Sunday evening’s program featured Mozart’s Symphony No. 34 in C Major and Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

Even though almost all of the performers had played the selections many times during their career, scheduling but a single rehearsal can make for a daunting experience.

Express photo by Willy Cook"It’s still very challenging," said Alasdair Neale, associate conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, who is in his sixth season as the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s music director. "We’re hitting the ground running."

Jaci Wilkins, the symphony’s executive director, observed it was impressive just how much was accomplished at each practice session.

"It’s the mark of a true professional," she said, "to be able to put this together in one rehearsal."

Express photo by Willy CookDeclared Linda Lukas, principal flute player for both the San Francisco and Sun Valley symphonies, "one rehearsal makes you focus. You don’t have time to obsess about every little thing."

Ron Soble


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