“More Chocolate”

In my music-science course, our first field trip each Fall was across town to the season’s first rehearsal of the Pasadena Symphony, where we sat on stage with the orchestra, almost close enough to the strings to be poked by their bows. The physical impact of close-up sound was new to most students, and electrifying to all of us.

Conductor Jorge Mester usually began by playing something straight through; but on the occasion I’m thinking of, he stopped the orchestra during the “Enigma” Variations. Leaning toward the first violins, and speaking confidentially, he urged, “Play it more chocolate.” Then he started the orchestra back a ways, nodded to the violins at their playing of that passage; and continued to the end.

After these Tuesday-evening rehearsals, we would meet in class the next morning, where I would always grin and say, “Tell me about it!” And they would tell me all about it, plying me with questions about what we’d seen and heard. This time they had just one question: “What did he mean, ‘Play it more chocolate’?”

I grinned again and said, “I’ll tell you what I think, but let me ask you something first: Did they play it more chocolate?”

The students immediately said, “Oh yes, they did!”

“Good,” I responded gleefully. “What do you mean by, ‘more chocolate’?”

Copyright © James Boyk 2013. All rights reserved.
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