Volume 5 / Chapter 171
[TN: Small ray of hope]
When Amelia completed the concerts at the 2 universities and left for Philadelphia, Jun Hyuk spent the last week of the year alone in his hotel room. The Boston Philharmonic was all for Patrick Quinn because of the special end of year concert including Christmas.
Jun Hyuk spent the month of December busy, thinking of new ways to bring out results from rehearsals. He spent all of his time in front of his piano and did not even make it to the end of year party.
At the first rehearsal of the year, Jun Hyuk discussed his new method.
“My request for you to forget the score was hard, right? You want a perfect performance, but we don’t have enough time. So we’ll have to try out a different method.”
“Is that method the piano?”
The concertmaster pointed to the piano that had not been on the stage until now.
“Yes. Starting today, I’m going to play Inferno on the piano 3 times every day.”
The concertmaster and the other members wore looks of shock. They have not been able to play even half of the 1st part. But the whole song? And 3 times in repetition? That is impossible.
“Wait a second. I have a thought. Don’t worry.”
Jun Hyuk calmed the orchestra down.
“You all just need to look at the score well. Focus only on the score since conducting is unnecessary. Since finishing is the goal, please just pass over it even if there is a mistake. You just need to keep the beat.”
Even though Jun Hyuk told them not to worry, they kept murmuring amongst themselves.
“Alright. Everyone quiet down and do as the Maestro says. I think he’ll be showing us magic again today.”
Concertmaster Matthew Price calmed the orchestra down and spoke to Jun Hyuk,
“Maestro. Can we use a metronome? If we are to keep the beat without conducting, I think we’ll need the metronome.”
“Oh, that’s a good idea. I’m sure everyone has a metronome app on their phones.”
The majority of the orchestra members turned their phones on again and made a buzz to get ready. Jun Hyuk sat in front of the piano.
“Alright. Shall we start?”
With Jun Hyuk’s signal, everyone started playing with the first note. Starting at the 2nd measure, Jun Hyuk came in on the piano.
Everyone witnessed magic again. They are sure that they are looking at the same score, but a different music is coming out. As the piano increased, the orchestra’s sound just became an accompaniment for the piano. Inferno’s terrible melody disappeared and an entirely different piano concerto rang out through the theater.
The orchestra did not lose track of the score or go off beat. Instead, there was even a member who almost dropped his instrument in surprise when the song was changed completely with just the addition of a piano melody.
The uncomfortable sound of Inferno disappeared from the members’ minds and they only heard the piano melody. Jun Hyuk did not look once at the orchestra, did not take his eyes off of the piano keys, and focused only on playing.
The 1st part was over within moments. Jun Hyuk did not rest and put his hand up to alert them of the start of the 2nd part. With this signal, the orchestra went into the 2nd part. They understood the maestro’s intent. They are going to go through all of the parts without stopping.
After 40 minutes of a completely new music was over, most let out a long sigh. No one spoke.
However, there was no time to enjoy the aftertaste of the piano melody or novelty of the magic. Jun Hyuk sent a signal with his hand to repeat the 1st part.
Since the orchestra was used to the piano melody, they were confident that they could give a more mature performance. But the magic of the maestro in front of the piano was not over. It was not the same piano melody.
If the first piano was like a sad sob, the melody now is solemn and reminiscent of Bach’s Cantus. The 3 performances Jun Hyuk mentioned were of different melodies.
After the 3 performances over 2 hours, their mental fatigue was greater than their physical. They had performed while thinking about what melody would be up next, so they were exhausted.
Jun Hyuk’s state was not sound either. From the way he wiped the sweat off of his forehead as he stood up from the piano, they could tell that he had performed with much difficulty.
For a moment, neither the orchestra nor Jun Hyuk could say a word. Tara had been watching from backstage and fell to the ground without being able to get up even though she needs to gog give Jun Hyuk a towel to wipe his sweat.
“Alright. I think we might be able to forget the entire song with this kind of method…”
Jun Hyuk could not continue speaking. All of the orchestra members suddenly rose from their seats and started clapping. It was not passionate like that of an audience, but there was sincerity in their clapping.
Their clapping is not in regards to the piano melody or the disappearance of the terrible sound of Inferno. It is a tribute to Jun Hyuk’s endless talent and his helping them perform the song in such a way.
“Why are you being like this. Stop and sit down. I haven’t finished talking.”
The orchestra members saw Jun Hyuk’s embarrassed expression and sat down to listen.
“I think my method worked. First, there won’t be a problem with recording the album like this. Right?”
In one way, it is just an arrangement. An arrangement where the original song has a twist with the piano. But the result is not that it is a piano song, but that an entirely different song was born. As Jun Hyuk said, they are not forgetting the original song but remembering a new piano concerto.
They can listen to the piano melody through earphones in the recording studio. The amazing sound engineer will take care of balancing the variance of the sounds the orchestra makes through their instruments and the piano melody.
“From now on when you practice alone, listen to the piano melody. Oh. You only have to use the 3 songs that you heard today, today and tomorrow. I’ll bring a properly made piano song to our next rehearsal.”
“Maestro. What do you mean properly made? The 3 songs today are perfect. We didn’t think of the original song at all and felt like we were playing an entirely different song.”
The 3 songs were all perfect piano concertos that did not need anything else. There are a lot of shortcomings to call them great works, but they have done more than enough to achieve the goal of making them forget the original song.
Concertmaster Matthew Price thought that it might be Jun Hyuk’s ambition as a composer to create a better piece.
“Oh. The 3 songs that I prepared today were just tests.”
“Yes. They were tests to see how your performance would change according to the twist with the piano. If we take out the piano in today’s performances, they are just of Inferno. This is also my first time hearing the entire song. But none of them were the Inferno that I want.”
The skill to listen to a piano concerto while taking out the piano part. It is impressive, but they were no longer surprised.
“What is the Inferno that you want?”
“I can’t express it exactly, but I want to leave a slight room.”
“Room? What does that mean?”
“If the 1st part of Inferno that the Berlin Philharmonic performed was a darkness, I am trying to plant a very small light in there.”
None of the orchestra members had heard Berlin Philharmonic’s performance. But they could understand what Jun Hyuk meant. They had experienced the darkness that Jun Hyuk spoke of with their bodies while practicing the song.
With today’s experiment, Jun Hyuk gained a lot of confidence. He felt like he could achieve his goal before the end of the season.
“We’ll record the album in January. The secretary’s office will figure out the recording schedule. I’m thinking of increasing the number of rehearsals we have until then. There might not be enough time because we still have the regular concerts… but can we rehearse for a few hours over the weekend?”
Jun Hyuk brought it up cautiously and examined the members’ faces. Their reactions showed that he need not worry. The concertmaster and members nodded. A challenge is a joy.
The next day when Patrick Quinn heard about the day’s events from the concertmaster, he hit his head.
“Darn. I missed that great moment. Then that means he’ll bring a complete piano song to tomorrow’s rehearsal. I don’t think I can miss out on that no matter what.”
“Maestro. Maestro Jun asked me to tell you to refrain from coming to rehearsals.”
“What? Is it off limits for me?”
Patrick Quinn frowned.
“That’s basically what it means. He blocked his secretary, Tara, from entering the stage as well.”
Patrick Quinn mumbled with a face full of regret.
“Well… I guess I made too much of a fuss. I should have just watched quietly.”
“That wasn’t a fuss, that was wonderment. Anyone would have done the same.”
The piano song that Jun Hyuk prepared again could be seen as inferior to the first 3 songs. It is dull and a boring performance continued for 40 minutes without change. Even the members complained that it is so boring it makes the song difficult to play.
Jun Hyuk was the only person to look satisfied.
“We’re almost there. As long as there aren’t little mistakes, we could record as immediately as tomorrow. Alright. Shall we try it again? This time, play while following my conducting.”
Jun Hyuk conducted the orchestra while playing the piano.
He had the piano at the piano and played both roles like famous pianist and 10 year conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim.
Conducting means constantly leading the orchestra’s sound and urging them to bring out the desired sound.
Until now, Jun Hyuk had only said nice things, but he started to become critical.
“First violin. I won’t say who it is, but you were half a pitch higher 3 times. I expect that you won’t continue this kind of mistake.”
“Why are all of the horns late? I’m not talking about the beat. Play with a bit more speed.”
“Hang on. Everyone needs to get used to conversion. In measures 27 to 34, you completely ignored the dynamic conversion I talked about. It may be a mechanical performance, but that machine is faulty if it cannot keep up with conversions.”
Jun Hyuk’s razor sharp criticisms made the orchestra realize one thing. They had only just taken off their trainers. They are just performers who can only play according to the new score they received, but there is still a long way before they can express the music in the way that the maestro wants.
In front of them are not just weekends that they need to give up, but days of practicing late into the night.
2 weeks after the January that Jun Hyuk had expected to finish recording the album, they started preparing to record in Boston Philharmonic’s own record label BSO Classics in the middle of February.
Over 3 days before recording, Jun Hyuk had meetings with BSO Classics’ producer and sound engineers.
“We’re going to use 5 omnidirectional microphones and 3 T stands.”
Omnidirectional mics are hung in the center of a theater to record even the entire ringing, while T stands are T-shaped stands equipped with 3 mics. It has the role of picking up on even the finest sounds.
This method is also known as Decca Tree, and was developed by record label Decca to order classical music.
The producer and sound engineers briefed Jun Hyuk on the overall notes on the recording.
“Then that means there will be a total of 14 soundtracks. Won’t mixing be a bother? Since this song isn’t grand like typical classics, it’ll be easier to work on the 2nd half with just 2 omnidirectional mics and 2 T stands.”
“Ha ha. Maestro, you don’t need to take that much into mind for us. That’s our job.”
The producer laughed at Jun Hyuk’s unexpected words. He is the first maestro who pays mind to their workload for the 2nd half.
“Uh, I have a question.”
“Yes. What is it?”’
“Are you all just engineers? Or are you lovers of music who enjoy classical?”
“What’s necessary to say? We chose this job because we love classical music.”
Top sound engineers are bound to have a profound knowledge of music. Jun Hyuk is not asking this because he doubts their abilities. He had actually wanted them to be outsiders to music.
“Then you know that this recording will be of Inferno, right?”
“Of course. Isn’t it the top news these days? Our anticipations are very high too because we will be the first to record Inferno.”
“When Berlin Philharmonic performed the 1st part, the entire audience left. You know that, right?”
“Of course. Isn’t that why we’re so curious?”
“I was there, and it wasn’t just leaving. The audience ran away.”
The producer realized what Jun Hyuk is worrying about.
“We already heard the terrible reputation that Inferno has.”
The producer already saw the score for Inferno. Though it was a rough time, his expectations for the music rose.
“No. You don’t know. How can you work on something that the performers themselves can’t listen to when you need to listen to it hundreds of times?”
The producer finally realized what Jun Hyuk intended to do.
“What? Then do you mean…?”
“Yes. I was thinking of doing the mixing myself.”
When Jun Hyuk was done talking, everyone just blinked speechless. Since they started working in this field, this is the first time they heard a maestro say that he would do the 2nd half of the work.
“Don’t worry. I basically lived in a recording studio for 2 months. I can work with most equipment.”
Jun Hyuk saw their frowning faces and did not bring up the work on the 2nd half any longer. They will come to understand when it comes time.
“Even if it’s not that, you can reduce the number of microphones. And please cover the left and right walls of the concert hall with a thick fabric that can absorb sound. We need to force a light feeling rather than grandeur.”
The producer seemed to be uncomfortable with Jun Hyuk’s increasingly rigid requests and his expression grew darker.
“And the earphones?”
“They’ve been prepared already. There are enough for all of the members of the orchestra.”
“Alright. Thank you so much.”
Jun Hyuk ended the meeting and stood up. They will record over 3 days. He did not say anymore because he trusted that they would know what he is talking about after the first test recording.
On the day of the 1st recording, the stage was full with 8 microphones and complex wires. The orchestra’s earphones were tangled on the floor, and there was nowhere to step.
“So we’re finally recording.”
“I’ll say. I had half a doubt at first, but…..”
“No one knows until the recording is over.”
Chairman Mark Boff and the Board members are sitting in the back of the audience so as not to miss out on this event. Regardless of the success of the recording, they want to hear the much talked about Inferno for themselves.
Jun Hyuk checked the volume on each and every earphone. The piano sound in their ears and the orchestra’s sound in the theater need to have the same volume. If there is even the slightest difference in sound for the piano, it will inevitably go wrong.
“Boston’s young maestro is so meticulous that he checks the sound himself. It isn’t fitting for the appearance of a young genius.”
“He even said that he would do the mixing himself.”
“Excuse me? The mixing?”
“Yes. That’s what the producer told me. We’ll have to put an additional article in the contract. Jun will become the producer.”
Patrick Quinn could understand why Jun Hyuk said that he would do the studio work himself. It is because anyone who can hear will have trouble listening to this song all the way to the end.
Patrick Quinn’s thoughts were not wrong in any aspect. They started the rehearsal and test recording and when the 1st part was over, none of the Board members had stayed in their seats.
Even the sound engineers who needed to check on the state of the recording, had left. The only people who stayed in the theater were Patrick Quinn and the producer, with the veins showing in their foreheads.
When they finished playing through the 2nd part, the producer had left and only Patrick Quinn was left in his seat. He looked much more comfortable than he had during the 1st part. As the 2nd part was ending, he could not endure it any longer and was going to leave the theater.
There was a greater difference than he thought between reading the score and hearing the song in person.
In that moment, Patrick Quinn’s thoughts on Inferno had changed. It has an incredible value, but it is not music. He decided to make the conclusion that they had just used the orchestra to experiment with sound.
When he was about to get up, the sound changed. The sound began to change into music. The 1st part was just darkness. There was nothing different in the 2nd either. But as the 2nd part was ending, a very small light came through. At that moment, Patrick Quinn sat down again.
The 3rd and 4th parts were the journey to find that weak light. There is anxiety and fear, but that ray of light allows them to overcome that fear.
At the end of the 4th part, there is the hope that they have escaped that darkness and can go out into the bright world. But the music ended without showing that bright world. Inferno has an ending that ends with the hope.