In 2011 I conducted Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men for Opera Australia in a celebrated production by director Bruce Beresford. I adored the piece, but was appalled by the hire materials, and the idea of creating a new scholarly edition of the work came to me. I met Floyd in 2012, and in collaboration with him, engraved a new edition on Sibelius for Boosey and Hawkes with an accompanying set of Critical Notes, the latter as part of a PhD at the University of Sydney under supervisor Dr. James Wierzbicki, made possible by an UPA scholarship. Since completing this project in early 2016 I have turned my mind to how I can use the skills I have acquired to good use for musicians.
The other stimulus for this series has been my work at Theater Regensburg, a beautiful old theatre with a pit that allows us to seat around 60 players. Works for triple winds or large percussion requirements necessitate smaller string sections, with the obvious balance problems this creates. The players, like so many orchestral players who play in theatre pits around the world, suffer from loud volumes during their performances. In recent times I have found a solution to this by making smaller orchestrations that preserve the integrity of the original score, and deliver a better result through preserving the natural balance of the sections of the orchestra, and allowing the players to play in better acoustic environment.
The result of these ideas is the creation of Woods Edition.
Woods Edition aims to build up a library of professionally engraved scores and accompanying orchestral parts that are available for hire and purchase as PDF files. My focus will be on offering great works that present difficulties to orchestras through the poor state of their materials, or through the scale of their orchestrations. My first project, Revueltas’ Sensemaya has both problems, with up to now only poor-quality hire materials and an enormous orchestra, both reasons why this wonderful piece is not better known. My second project, Ravel’s Bolero, is a little different. Bolero is one of the most-performed works of our time, however, outside the sphere of large orchestras, the scale of Ravel’s orchestration makes it a costly work to programme. In Regensburg, where Yuki Mori choreographed a ballet to it in 2016, playing with Ravel’s orchestration would have added thousands of dollars to the cost, resulted in a too-small string section, and been unpleasantly loud for the players.
One of the ironies of performer’s lives is that many of the most popular and frequently performed works have terrible parts and scores, lacking rehearsal and bar numbers, and are poorly edited and full of glaring inconsistencies. This is because once a publisher owns the copyright to a work, they have no commercial motivation to create a better edition. In our modern orchestral world, orchestral players and conductors are required to operate on minimal rehearsal, and costs (like hiring extra players) are always a pressure.
The works available through this new edition will not be critical editions as such, but will be well edited, consistent, legible, and available as PDF files, meaning they can be emailed and printed out, cutting the time between hiring/purchasing and receiving the music down to almost nothing.
If there are works you feel would benefit from such an approach please feel free to make suggestions.