The Cal Poly Symphony's Fall Concert is this weekend with a performance of Dvorak's 8th symphony and the Piano Concerto Number One by Rachmaninov, featuring Cal Poly professor W. Terrence Spiller on piano, conducted by David Arrivee.
KSBY stopped by the music department for a visit as the two worked through some of the finer points of the piano concerto in a small room, jammed with pianos.
Way before the orchestra gets involved, the two professors work through the music in this room, packed with pianos.
"So I walk, literally across the hall and I say, 'hey, can we take a look at movement one?'" explains Arrivee "And I play what I can of the orchestra on the piano or sing or whatever and Terry plays the piano part."
"The orchestra has some very simple writing," Spiller adds. "That's the melody and I just decorate all around that."
Sergei Rachmaninov's piano works are considered to be some of the most stunning ever written for the instrument and they're notoriously difficult to play.
"He loves and writes beautiful melodies," Spiller says, referring to the then-18 year-old composer. "But he likes to accompany those beautiful melodies with complicated harmonies, chords, and then sometimes he colors those chords with lots and lots of notes."
We watched as Spiller and Arrivee rehearsed some complex sequences of the concerto.
"Is this fun for you?"
Arrivee laughed, "I mean, this requires an enormous amount of work and discipline for a single concert."
Spiller smiled, saying, "It's more than fun. It's why we do what we do. So, part of it is fun and part of it is this incredible, ongoing challenge and opportunity of dealing with great works of music."
You can catch the Cal Poly Symphony's Fall Concert this Sunday, December 4 at 3:00 p.m. in the PAC at Cal Poly.