You’re a soloist who needs to rehearse with an orchestra…

You’re a soloist who needs to rehearse with an orchestra…


norman lebrecht

December 29, 2014

This app could be a life-saver.
Cellist and reflection.

Harvard startup Sonation has taken over the Music Minus One catalogue. They created an app, called it Cadenza, and made it available a few weeks ago in the App Store with 180 movements and pieces to play. Full details here.


  • Sasha says:

    I prefer the old-fashioned way of getting a bunch of musician friends together to do it for real. That’s how I got to play the Schumann cello concerto (!) with full orchestra in my graduation recital way back when.

  • Markand Thakar says:

    Sure, and I prefer to be King of England. But the alternative is not rehearsing with an orchestra, it’s rehearsing with a piano, or practicing without accompaniment entirely. Seems like an amazing app.

    • marguerite foxon says:

      Im with you – I have no access to other instrumentalists and find pre-recorded tracks enormously helpful when learning to play something, and then just for my own enjoyment. I think this is a fabulous app. For those who have friends to play with, good for you!

  • Sasha says:

    It might be an amazing application, but expect nothing like the real thing which has to have a lot of give and take. Players who practice with this will get a cold shower in their first orchestra rehearsal – just like singers who are used to the pianist covering for their bad rhythm and realizing for the first time that an orchestra of 70 people is not going to do that for them.

    • Ma'ayan says:

      I completely agree with you but I still see value in this app. My second solo experience was that cold shower you described (the first was Mozart, and this issue is more prevalent with later music). And I had no app, I had pianists and teachers, but no one told me anything about this. So after the first rehearsal I went home and reigned in my rubatti. It’s probably a part of every soloist’s experience and I don’t think it’s such a big deal, although teachers and accompanists should factor this more into their work, I know I do when I operate in these fields.

      This app, if it works as advertised (and we’ll see, that’s a tall order), is replacement or complement to an accompanist, and its value in my view is countless hours of practice for just the purchase price.

      I’m an android user, but if this actually works, I might give in and buy one of those horrid iProducts.

  • Bob M says:

    It’s too bad these people didn’t have the foresight to see that there are twice as many Android users as there are Apple users – they could’ve doubled their initial profits.

  • Patrick says:

    I have a flight simulator app in which you can adjust certain parameters: equipment failure, sudden gusts of wind, weather changes, inaccurate guages, etc. If you really want a more realistic experience, make a few options available. For example….

    1. Experience level of conductor (first time — old pro)
    2. Conductor/soloist relationship (friend — foe)
    3. Interpretive agreement (in sync — not)
    4. Available rehearsal time (1 shot — 2 rehearsals plus a dress)
    5. Orchestra’s accompanying ability (clueless — The Met Orchestra)
    6. Conductor’s knowledge of score (which concerto? — wrote the piece)

    Others to add?

  • Paul says:

    Thanks, Mr. Lebrecht, for mentioning Cadenza. I would simply encourage the incredulous to try it. I think you’ll be able to tell for yourself whether playing your instrument and hearing all the parts of a composition, moving in synchrony with your phrasing is a good thing or not.

    Cadenza is free and has several free movements you can try as well: Download Cadenza

    And thanks for the intriguing suggestions. We might just take up one or two of them!

  • Robert Holmén says:

    The link fails for me because it has an extra space appended to it. Removing the space makes it work.

    Disappointed that it is iPad-only.

  • Tim Benjamin says:

    I had a look round the Sonation site and noticed a couple of things.

    The spelling mistake in almost the first sentence (“Experiencel” – huh?) put me off a bit but it looks impressive and Music Minus One has always been useful, with the irritation (hopefully avoided in this app) of not being able to leap immediately to (and start, ideally with count-in, from) a particular bar.

    Users will have to have extra amplification though – ipads etc are far too quiet for this purpose. When I’m learning string quartets and playing along with recordings, my hifi has to be much louder than when I’m merely listening, in order to hear the other players above my own playing.

    By the way I was very alarmed to see this in the small print!

    “… and the musical turn logo are trademarks of Sonation, Incorporated”

    So you think you can trademark the turn ornament, really?? I think that’s pretty ridiculous. Maybe I’ll knock up an app for accompanying singers called Cantation and trademark an inverted turn as the logo.

  • Paul says:

    Thanks for catching the typos, Tim. They’re fixed now. Let us know what you think of the app!

  • Robert Holmén says:

    A Windows version would be welcome also.

  • Paul says:

    A new version of Cadenza was released yesterday. It synchronizes with your playing even better than the last version. We also made it a lot more stable and added some new music, too.

  • Lynn says:

    Is this app still available in the app store? I searched under the name “Cadenza” and another app with a different logo came up that only serves as a tuner.

  • Ben Joles says:

    can someone please tell me how to get this app?
    Or maybe a contact email so I can enquire further.