La Générale refers to a French dress rehearsal before a show or concert but with no senior military officer in sight. But why am I talking about a rehearsal? Well, as some of you Dear Readers might know that for my many sins, I am a horn player and musician. Both can happen simultaneously, despite our reputation! From February 2009 until July 2022, I played the horn for the Orchestre d’Harmonie de Cholet in France. Some people had cottoned onto the fact that I dabble in this photography lark, and since they had just changed musical direction, they would like me to take some photos of the new director in front of the band. I of course said yes, and following the lessons learnt during the American Concert, I was feeling quietly confident.
The musicians were asked to attend the Générale in concert dress, all looking very smart. This would allow me to wander around the stage freely, not annoy the audience, and have complete freedom to try to take a couple of photos. What a good idea! It also meant that I had two hours to get the job done in a satisfactory manner.
I had the Canon 6D Mark II with the 85mm F1.8 Canon lens, and the trusty and also favourite, almost to the point of it being a fetish, Fuji Film X100F, with the telephoto adapter which transforms the lens into a 50mm F 2.0 lens. I could take off that adapter and have 35mm equivalent lens. To the uninitiated, you will think I have just spouted out a huge amount of gobbledy gook, but I it actually means something to me. It was out of the question that I would miss 60 photos like last time. A lesson most definitely learnt!
Sooooo… I wandered around taking photos and trying to make sure I didn’t just photograph the horn section. Nobody couldn’t accuse me of favouritism; except that I had treated some images first for friends and had posted them on Facebook. Two of those friends were, of course, in the Horn Section. Ooooops a daisy. Ah well. I did, however, tell everyone that these were merely a foretaste of things to come, and I realised I had actually been quite democratic and represented most of the musicians. Out of the 400 odd photos taken, 124 were presented to the musicians in a private Google Gallery. Not bad for two hours of shooting. You will see a small selection of those photos at the end of this article.
As a thank you, I was invited to the concert the next day. After a Barber appointment to tame my overgrown beard and a visit to the pub just to say hello to the staff and friends, I headed off to Cholet for my Rendez Vous with music listening. Keep music live etc!!
Naturally, with the change of conductor, there will be a change of musical direction. Each person had to get used to the novelty, and the new conductor has to make his mark on the orchestra, which is perfectly normal. I had heard all kinds of things and wanted to make up my own mind. The concert theme was “Heart of the Forest.” I was determined to take it all in with no preconceived ideas. Just enjoy the bloody music, you fool. So I sat down and did just that. The sound at the back of the auditorium differed completely from what I had heard the night before. As a musician, we hear the concert from where we are on the stage. The audience really hears that difference. I was blown away and just sat there enjoying watching my friends create music.
With time, the orchestra and the new musical director will get to know each other, and I look forward to seeing their next concert and seeing the outcome of this new relationship in future concerts, and it goes without saying that I wish them the very best of success for the future!
Now for the photos, and not just the horn section…