David Robertson is a native Californian, born and raised in Santa Monica, which made it easier for him to get to the L.A. Phil when he could. He remembers William Kraft as the Principal Timpani of that orchestra. Shannon Wood performs Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No. 2, “The Grand Encounter,” with the St. Louis Symphony this weekend, Robertson conducting.
On at least one occasion–see documentation above, ca. 1968-69–the young Robertson met Kraft when the timpanist moved to the podium to conduct. The caption reads: “Instructions From El Maestro. William Kraft, head of percussion section of Philharmonic, conducted Sunday’s concert for young people. He’s pointing out part of a score to Dave Robertson, who plays French horn in All-City Honor Orchestra, and Lisa Martin, who plays violin.”
Tuesday morning the special timpani rig for Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No. 2 was moved from Shannon Wood’s Grand Center studio to Powell Hall. The move of a total of 15 timpani–including nine tenor drums that hang from scaffolding–took a number of stage hands, an elevator that was just big enough, and a truck to get it all here. Here are pictures that Symphony staffer Zach Schimpf and I took to document the process.
Not long ago at the Kranzberg Arts Center Principal Timpani Shannon Wood gave a preview of his upcoming performance of Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No. 2, “The Grand Encounter,” which receives its St. Louis Symphony debut April 30-May 1.
For that preview concert a camera was positioned behind Wood, and here is one brief clip from it.
Monday night Principal Timpani Shannon Wood gave a solo preview of Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No. 2, “The Grand Encounter,” at the Kranzberg Center for the Arts as part of Symphony In The City.
Last Sunday night members of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, a wind ensemble from the St. Louis Symphony and Amy Kaiser performed Stravinsky’s Mass at Peace Lutheran Church as part of Symphony Where You Worship.
Last Thursday Claire “The Clown” Wedemeyer of Clowns on Call and Symphony First Violinist Angie Smart demonstrated how music mixed with comedy helps children heal at the Goldfarb School of Nursing, with students from Cote Brilliante Elementary looking on as part of a combined Symphony In Your College and SymphonyCares program.
Michael Gandlmayr of the Symphony Education Team visited Kellison Elementary today (Wednesday morning) to view classes preparing for the Link Up concerts on May 11. Michael is an alum of the Rockwood School District and ran into his first violin teacher, Darlene Lanser.
For the Shannon Wood video I posted in the previous blog post, there were three camerawomen, Ana Castillo, Nicole Weiss and St. Louis Symphony Video Intern Nicola Muscroft, who directed and edited the shoot. Here is Nicola getting some elevation to look down into Wood’s timpani cage.
The St. Louis Symphony flies home Wednesday evening from a highly successful California tour–and not only because of the food the musicians found. A few blurbs to flaunt: Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle on the Messiaen: “a brilliant and vividly colored performance”; Georgia Rowe of San Jose Mercury News on both programs (Adams-Mahler & Messiaen) in Berkeley: “Best of 2016? It’s already on my list”; and Timothy Mangan of the Orange County Register on the Mahler 5 at Soka University: “a distinguished and communicative performance.” Principal Horn Roger Kaza and Principal Trumpet Karin Bliznik both received numerous shout outs from the California press. There will be more reviews to come, which you can read in their entirety here: click.
I reached Principal Timpani Shannon Wood at LAX. “Last night went really well,” he said in what sounded like an understatement. Shannon said Resident Conductor Steven Jarvi, who was in the hall, told him, “It was the most exciting and clearest to hear of all the Messiaen concerts. Part of that is the clarity of Disney Hall,” Shannon said. “There’s lots of space and it’s such a beautiful hall.”
Shannon had an especially busy day on Tuesday, giving master classes and lessons for five hours at USC, then rehearsal, a break before the show and then From the Canyons to the Stars.
Shannon commented on the bonding experience the musicians have while on tour. Like most St. Louisans, the orchestra lives all over the city and the region, so opportunities to come together away from the stage are not entirely common. “It was my first California tour with the orchestra,” Shannon said, “and it was a really great opportunity to talk with people I normally don’t talk with. Robertson was hanging out with us after the concerts too.”
And then there was the food. “Out here you can have any cuisine you want, and quality cuisine,” Shannon said. “Dim sum, shabu-shabu, which comes with a big pot–you choose your broth and then you choose your ingredients and you cook it. I had Korean barbecue with a timpanist from the L.A. Phil.”
Shannon summed up the California Tour: “Great music, bonding, great food, seeing old friends, being in a geographically wonderous place.” Plus time for Shannon and Principal Flute Mark Sparks to visit a vineyard near Sonoma. Here are some of Shannon Wood’s photos:
Principal Timpani Shannon Wood visited with William Kraft, the composer of the Timpani Concerto No. 2, “The Grand Encounter,” in the composer’s home near Pasadena, California, this summer. Wood plays the work with the St. Louis Symphony, April 30-May 1, 2016, at Powell Hall. Wood sent me a video of their conversation, and cinematographer Joshua Dobkins put together this edition of the Video Blog, including excerpts of the timpanist practicing the work in his Grand Center studio. You’ll see a new look to the Video Blog. Swank.
On the blog this summer you’ve seen Principal Timpani Shannon Wood in his Grand Center studio practicing on his solo for next spring, William Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No. 2, “The Grand Encounter.” Soon on the video blog you’ll see him talking with the composer during a visit to Kraft’s home and studio near Pasadena, California. But for now, the Woods are on vacation.
As Wood describes it, Cefalú is a beautiful old town on the Mediterranean, east of Palermo. “We enrolled in a language class there,” he writes. “I’m fairly fluent already, but it’ll help refine my skills. [Spouse] Jaci has been studying Italian for more than a year already, so it’ll be really helpful for her.”
They were in England before the month-long stay in Sicily. They head to Dublin before returning to St. Louis and then back to the basement and preparing for the season.
Next Postcard Thursday: Principal Harp Allegra Lilly.
The official video: Shannon Wood practices William Kraft’s Timpani Concerto No. 2, “The Grand Encounter,” in his Grand Center studio. He’ll be taking a break and traveling with family for a while, but we’ll hear from him again on a later Postcard Thursday this summer. Symphony musician in a Frank Zappa T-shirt. Can ya dig it?