D-S-C-H

I’m stoked in the Basement this evening, kids. Why? Well, because this is the week I’m thumping along on Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, with the SLSO. I’m playing all bass drum and triangle this time.

This piece is asked on all percussion auditions because it’s got a great snare drum part, which I look forward to admiring from close proximity. I haven’t played this since music school, and that is way, way too long!

I was talking to my pal Randy Max about that long ago concert with the Juilliard Orchestra. I was on timpani and he was on snare drum, which our teacher Roland Kohloff called the “hot seat.”

One of the cool things about this symphony is that Shostakovich spells out his initials over and over again in musical code. In a sense, he puts himself into the piece, along with several other musical characters. D is for Dmitri, Ess (Eb in German) is for S, C (OK, this only makes sense if it’s spelled Schostakovich) and H, German for B natural. He really hammers away at in what I take to be a celebration of individuality in the face crushing Soviet era conformity. When I say hammer, it’s just about literal. The timpani (again with yours truly admiringly nodding nearby) bangs out D, Eb, C, B over and over again in the coda. It’s super satisfying.