A visit to Pacific Symphony’s music library

You go in the artists’ entrance at Segerstrom Concert Hall, walk past the security guard behind the window (once you get the OK), enter the first door on the right and head down two flights of stairs. You’re in the basement now, walking down a long concrete hallway in low light when, on the right, you come upon this plaque.

It’s the library of Pacific Symphony. Step inside and it’s a cozy and quiet little place.

Librarian Russell Dicey (his co-librarian Brent Anderson is off premises) gives me the tour. Russell, a former horn player in the Symphony, and I go way back — we played together in the YMF Debut Orchestra in our youth. In the back there are mobile storage shelves, on rollers. There’s a hand crank you turn to move them back and forth and open up an aisle. The scores and parts that the Symphony owns are stored on them. To the left in the photo, arranged on the upper shelves in manila folders, are the scores and parts for the upcoming season, awaiting preparation.

Russell explains some of the ins and out of the job of the music librarian. Scores and parts are either owned by the Symphony or rented. Sometimes, they are supplied by the conductor. Librarians have to prepare them all for performance by sorting parts into folders for the players; by marking the bowings in the string parts; by inserting emendations; by fixing bad page turns and whatever else it takes.

Marking the bowings in the string parts is extensive business. Once this is done, the librarians will often make copies of the parts if they are rented so that next time that particular score is performed, they don’t have to mark up the parts again. Because of copyright law, however, they will still rent the score when it is performed. But the rental parts will remain in the box, while the copies are used.

Here are a few more tidbits. Click on photos to enlarge them.

Pacific Symphony co-librarian Russell Dicey at his desk.

The first trombone folder for the upcoming Symphony in the Cities concerts.

Russell points to where his little girl scribbled on the score storage boxes one day. No harm, no foul.

The snare drum part to Ravel’s “Bolero.” Published in France by Durand (stamp, upper right), it is available for rental in the U.S. from Theodore Presser (stamp upper left).

–TM

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