"Dear Jessie" The Napoleonic Diaries
20th March 2012 11:05
Carl is in San Francisco getting ready to perform the 5 1/2 hour epic silent film "Napoleon" at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival with the Oakland Bay Symphony Orchestra at the Paramount Theatre, Oakland from 24th March to 1st April 2012.
Talking to him yesterday afternoon he decided to keep a diary of the events surrounding his departure from the UK on Sunday and the run up to the performances in San Francisco of this monumental event in his long career.
He's just dictated this over the phone (I believe it's 03.40am in San Fran!):
Really hard travel day, particulary on the lower back. However, whatever it’s flaws American Air does a really long bed so sleep is possible. I’m once more shocked at how heavy the Napoleon score is, it never leaves my side but I have the onerous task of lifting and lowering it from the overhead luggage rack. Transfer in Chicago is the usual agony compounded by the fatigue of an uproarious Britsh Musical Night with the Halle the night before. So with Mamma Mia ringing in my ears I arrive in San Francisco, happily met by Lucia of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and whisked off to Oakland and the charms of the Waterfront Hotel. Within minutes Kevin Brownlow and Patrick Stanbury arrive from their non-stop flight from London. The trio is complete.
Off at 10am to inspect the superbly renovated picture palace where we are to perform Napoleon 4 times. The entire production and orchestra team are assembled to hear the gospel from us for the first time in our 32 year history. For the 2nd time in my career I am confronted with a rising and falling orchestra pit. Shades of the Radio City Music Hall season in 1987, I insist on a speed rehearsal! After a good Mexican lunch at Tacorama, a long snooze to get in shape for rehearsal day 1 and meet the Orchestra.
Met the orchestra. Like most orchestras on a first encounter – shy but curious. Being Californian they were also friendly interested and had recently the Eroica Symphony which meant the Beethoven excerpts were immediately brilliant. Lucky me!!! I also made a valuable addition to my stock of Viola jokes: they say in Africa drumming is good and when they stop – bad. It means that it’s time for the viola solo.
Tomorrow first thing we test the rise and fall of the orchestra pit and meet the Hurdy-Gurdy player. I’m very nervous!
The viola soloist proved a star. The hurdy-gurdy had problems, hopefully to be resolved. The revelation was the degree to which the print of the film had been altered with its effect on the timecode (clock) which is necessary to the synchronisation of the music. So a sad, if not desperate plea in the words of Fagin “I’m reviewing the situation”. Slept through dinner. It’s now 2am on March 22nd and nothing fits!! However, the publicity rages – The Wall Street Journal gave us half a page yesterday. Revising till breakfast."
Further updates tomorrow!