My music experience designer project. BookXperience, Episode One, Part Two.
Photo taken at the BookXperience event
Calling myself a music experience designer, I launched BookXperience, the concept that lets the audience experience a book on a new, deeper level with original music written specifically for the storyline. To read part one, click here.

I knew that without the conductor it would be much harder to do the event and coordinate between the performers and the narrator, which is why I chose to push back the dates even further to June 16th. I reckoned it's a good idea as it would give me more time to think about the compositions that would fit well into the story, find instrumentalists and run the rehearsals.

I dedicated the first week to reading the book and developing musical ideas — which was relatively easy as it required participation and effort only on my part — and the second one to everything else. In order to perform my compositions, I needed to find violinists, violists and cellists. While it doesn't sound like a difficult task, it became one since I only knew a handful of musicians in the city. Having reached out to my friends, all of them were busy or were traveling back to their hometowns, but one suggested I message his friend that plays the cello.
Although he also couldn't make it to the event, he pointed me towards his friends: one cellist (Nursultan), one violinist (Kuralai) and one violist (Diana). Contacting them, they all expressed interest and some even brought their classmates.

Now that I had a group of instrumentalists, I messaged the conductor to find a good time to gather everyone and meet, but it turned out that he completely forgot about the project and booked a flight back home. Even though there was another conductor who was initially ready to join, he quit too and I was left without a person who would direct the ensemble.

Nevertheless, I scheduled our first rehearsal to take place the next day… without knowing where we would practice. The conservatory, music college and schools were all closed for summer vacation, so I reached out to a popular piano store that allows for rehearsals and recordings, and was given the green light. Having sent out invitations to musicians, I received a call explaining that unfortunately we're not permitted to come because the store only allows three people at a time. That left me with a few hours before the scheduled rehearsal time to find another place to practice.

The first thing that came to my head was talking to Natalya Petrovna, the head of the school that I graduated from. While most institutions did close for vacation, mine was still partially open and Natalya Petrovna kindly let me use one of the school's practice rooms for all of the three rehearsals I planned on doing (we ended up practicing only twice).

I didn't find a narrator in time for the first practice, but I considered it unnecessary given that this was the first meeting with the performers — a chance for us to get to know each other, go over the music and talk about how the event will go. Arriving on campus, it turned out that the cellist I invited already knew me and we met before: when recording Qainazar (my composition) back in November, he was on the second team with which we didn't end up filming the video.
Overall, the rehearsal went great and I got a lot of feedback from the instrumentalists, but I do admit it was nerve wracking at first, hearing little laughs in the middle of my explanations. After all, it's been a while since I held a rehearsal like this, talking about my compositions and conducting.

Picking a narrator was an even more arduous task as I had no idea who to invite. I knew I wanted the person to have a deep, male voice, but that was all. After getting rejections from all of my friends who matched that criteria, I posted the announcement on my Instagram. It turned out one of my colleagues had a friend who used to take public speaking classes and was excited about my idea.

I planned on doing three rehearsals for three days in a row, but everyone asked to do two instead and then go over the final touches on the day of the event. Considering it a reasonable remark, we scheduled practice for June 15. The day before, I met up with the narrator, Abay, to hand over the book and inform him about the details and practice.

On June 15, everyone arrived late, and Abay didn't show up at all. No matter how many texts I sent, he wasn't responding. Right before the rehearsal, I was also informed that we can't have a synthesizer at the event if we're doing it outside like we planned. That made everything even more complicated since all compositions included a piano part (I'm a pianist) or had it be the only instrument in the piece. I began stressing out.

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