The legendary Stokowski insisted on a free bowing technique with the Philadelphia Orchestra. And so does present Music Director, Alan Gilbert, for particular sections.
Under Gilbert, the configuration of the string section’s seating was altered from its former arrangement. The wider spread between the first and second violin sections, originally located right next to each other and now facing each other on juxtaposing ends of the fanned out positions, with violas and cellos located in between them, was inspired by European orchestral traditions. Dicterow explains:
“We are always in the process of trying to achieve the best possible result and usually everything has certain advantages. For instance, in this case, the separation creates a more antiphonal effect. The negative aspects are that certain strategic problems arise when similar material has to be played by sections, separated by a larger distance. It becomes audibly harder to establish exact timing and the violinists have to rely rather on the visual input of their leaders, than on when they used to hear more clearly, in the closer arranged setting before.”
Indeed audiences seem to be pleased with the results of New York’s premier band led by Maestro Alan Gilbert who, hired for a five-year term as Music Director and well into his second season now, will soon engage in efforts to concretize plans to renovate its home, Avery Fisher Hall.
According to Dicterow, the acoustics of the large concert hall that has no reflective wall or ceiling for optimal resonance right now are most enjoyable from their performers’ location—on stage.
Dicterow grew up in a family deeply rooted in musical tradition. He remembers lying under his mother’s concert grand piano, listening to the sound of music created by both of his parents. His extraordinary talent was evident early on and he made his solo debut, aged 11, in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (where his father, Harold Dicterow, served as principal of the second violin section for 52 years). He fondly remembers charismatic Maestro Zubin Mehta as a familiar face, visiting his parents. Later, Dicterow followed his father’s destination and served as Concertmaster in Los Angeles, before following Mehta to the New York Philharmonic.