Violinist.com members may keep personal journals on the website. Violinist.com's editor selects the best entries for the column below. Links to all other recent blog posts may be found in the column on the right.
By Christian Vachon
August 4, 2012 18:51
At Laurie's encouragement, my first blog (thank you Laurie):
Classical Music for me is fulfilling on a spiritual level. It not only communicates a message, but also the intention behind what we do, which always seems to get across to most of the audience. It allows me to face myself, my strengths and my weaknesses and tweak how and why I do things as I keep going through the journey of this life. The violin can be challenging technically, musically, physically, mentally, but on the level of the spirit, all of these are easy. Music is spirit and spirit is music. It is a way for all of us in a moment and space to become one. Nothing can be more special than that!
By Michelle Jones
August 4, 2012 11:28
Once upon a time (every good story starts with this, yes?), there was a young woman who eagerly wanted to be a part of the magic at the Walt Disney World Resort. She was still in college, and knew that she wanted to play violin there. But how? There was no weddings department, yet. There were no regular positions for classical violinists, let alone an orchestra. She did her research and visited the theme parks and resorts. She asked other musicians who were performing, and called the main number for the company to try to find out if there was place for her skill. There was, however, a college program orchestra that worked through the summer. “Aha!” she said. “That’s how I will get to play there. I am in college, so I could do this!”
Several months went by, and she did audition for the college orchestra. Nerves and anxiety got the best of her as she was new to the professional audition circuit, but the judges were kind and encouraging. Several weeks later, she received a letter in the mail stating she was on the “stand-by” list. The composers of the letter stated that is rare to have someone so young (she was only 18, but already completed most of her college requirements) be accepted into the orchestra as they do take into account the age of the student and accept seniors and juniors first. Although the orchestra did not need her that year as a “stand-by,” she still decided to work throughout the summer in one of the theme parks selling merchandise. She went to almost every college program orchestra concert that summer so she could really see what it was all about. Seeing it live was very different from the videos, but isn’t that usually the case with all groups?
During that same summer, she met a new violin teacher, Alfons Carlo. She immediately began studying with him, and he began coaching her on doing more professional auditions. When summer concluded, she went back to her college for her final year there, but went to Orlando to study with Mr. Carlo every other weekend. He even hired her for some of his professional ensembles during her visits. While in school, she again contacted the college program orchestra to inquire about the next summer, and was informed that they would no longer have a college program orchestra and that it was cut due to funding issues. Oh well. Maybe there was another place for her.
Once she finally moved to Orlando full-time, she continued to study with Mr. Carlo, who then prepared her for her audition with the Florida Symphony Orchestra. Excerpts from Strauss, Brahms, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Mozart were constantly reviewed and tweaked. Bach was her daily breakfast warm-up. Mendelssohn and Mozart became her new best friends. After almost a year of this continuous study, he said she was ready. Through a series of unfortunate events, Mr. Carlo passed away suddenly from a heart attack, and several months later, the FSO went bankrupt and folded. Now what’s an aspiring violinist supposed to do? She didn’t want to leave Orlando, although she did audition and win an invitation to join the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops Orchestras (she declined it.) Through her networking and connections from her studies with Mr. Carlo and through joining the Musicians’ Union, she reached out to the music community to learn what else was there. She began being hired for concert tours with celebrity artists, as well as many weddings and other local symphony orchestras. She played for some events (mostly weddings and symphony concerts) every week for several years, and even created her own business of contracting for weddings. She went back to school for a business degree, and then on to study for her MBA. During this time, she still had her heart set upon performing at the Walt Disney World Resort.
That opportunity came amidst conversation during one of the tours. She met one of the contractors who handled the “Candlelight Orchestra,” and was hired to play one or two nights that year. No audition; no rehearsal. Sight-reading the show while on stage. All those years of lessons in sight-reading and varying styles came in very handy at that first show. She did well, according to the contractor who sat next to her that first show. She was hired for more shows that year, and in subsequent years until 1999 when Disney no longer contracted through a third-party contractor, but began handling the bookings themselves.
Earlier in that same decade, Disney had just opened their brand new wedding pavilion, but did not have a cast of musicians to play violin. One of the contractors who worked with the aspiring violinist was also a contractor of violinists for weddings at Disney. He asked her to come audition to be placed on the call list. She had to prepare several Disney love songs, as well as the standard wedding songs from memory and play them. She was immediately placed on the call list, and played throughout the next few years. The Weddings department also changed to being booked in-house by Disney in 1999. She was told that if she wanted to play Candlelight and weddings at Disney, she would have to go through the formal audition process. Finally, this was her chance to actually audition for Disney!
How to prepare? What to prepare? She had only a few days’ notice for the scheduled audition, and was very rusty with the standard audition repertoire. Still, she quickly polished one of the Bach pieces, a Mozart concerto, and some of the excerpts. She was extremely nervous at the audition, but, again, the judges were kind and encouraging. Fortunately, her sight-reading skills were still exceptional, and she was hired on-the-spot. She was then informed that for solo work, she would have to learn an entire book of songs and play them for a separate audition. A few weeks later, she had the entire book learned and re-auditioned for solo work. She knew what to expect as she had already been doing the weddings for several years through the third-party contractor. Still, the audition went something like this:
The violinist had to remember the order, as well as play every song from memory with a smooth transition between every song through the bride’s entrance. It was all done on a solo violin, but it had to sound bigger than just the melody. She had to know the chords and progressions to enhance the music with double stops and improvisations. This process was repeated two more times with different song selections to ensure that the violinist really did know the required repertoire.
Needless to say, the aspiring violinist whose dream is to perform for Walt Disney World is me. It did not matter that there were no positions for violinists when I wanted to be there. I still worked for the company in various other jobs for ten years before the positions were created. I stayed in touch with the various managers and contractors who were hiring for the positions when they used outside contractors. When those positions became in-house, I immediately jumped at the chance to be one of the rare musicians who gets to perform often at Disney as a career. I did my research on roles and personnel, as well as other networking opportunities within the company. I learned of other auditions and positions through Local 389 of the Musicians’ Union (Disney has an agreement with the Musicians’ Union that all postings for positions are sent through the Local). The dream became reality for me, but not without a lot of hard work and preparation and PATIENCE.
So how do you prepare for an audition at Disney?
1. Go visit the theme parks and resorts and see what entertainment options are already there, then try to find a place where your act/talent would fit. Do you play the kazoo and the trash cans? Perhaps you would fit well near a character meet-and-greet area to entertain the children and families as they wait in line to meet their favorite Disney characters. Do you play electric guitar? You might work well as a sub or regular player for one of the many rock style groups on property. Do you have a unique ensemble or group? Your act might work well at Downtown Disney as a street artist or for one of the many corporate events or wedding receptions. When you arrive at the audition, tell the judges where YOU see your act fitting in on property. Sure, the judges may have another idea for you, but it’s up to you to paint the picture for them if they have no idea where to place your act.
2. Come to the audition prepared to entertain the judges as if they are your live audience – because they are! You should be dressed for the part you desire. Present the total package visually and audibly. If you want to be a live show performer, then prepare a small show/concert to showcase to the judges. Perform at the level and volume as if you are in the venue, in spite of the fact the audition room is very small. They need to know you can fill a space and draw in a crowd. Interact with the judges as you would a live audience.
3. Don’t be upset if the judges cut you off in your performance. It does not mean that you didn’t do well; it is usually based on time restrictions and they can tell the quality within a few moments.
4. Be prepared to sight-read. This is especially true if you are auditioning for an existing role (like an orchestra or part of a band). Many times, an on-call performer has to be just that: on call. This means that the performer has to be able to come sit in and read the part (oftentimes without a rehearsal), but make it look they have played it for years. Much of the music used on property is not standard anywhere except at Disney. The Candlelight Orchestra has exclusive arrangements of familiar Christmas and holiday tunes, but they are by no means easy reading. If that’s what you want to audition for, then you need to be prepared by knowing the tunes in advance. You really need to view videos online and possibly purchase the CD to learn the parts before you come to the audition. It’s best if you have actually seen a live show to know what is truly expected as far as venue, space, working conditions, etc. If you are auditioning for one of the regular bands, they expect the music memorized. Try to request the song list or the parts in advance, if possible. They may or may not give them to you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
5. Prepare to showcase your variety on one instrument. If you can do jazz, prepare a short jazz tune. If you can also do rock, prepare a short rock tune. If you can do romantic classical, prepare that, too. You only have a short window to show the judges what you can do. If you want to showcase different instruments, it is best to schedule them as separate auditions instead of cramming them all into one time slot. You will waste more time setting up and switching than is allowed. Focus on one or two per audition (i.e., keep them in a similar family of instruments; violin and viola at one audition, different keyed trumpets at one audition, upright and electric bass at one audition). Don’t try to do drums and trumpet and piano at the same audition, as they are not all in the same family. Too many instruments at once can be confusing to the judges. EXCEPTION: If you can sing while playing, practice that and showcase that at the audition.
6. Know the Disney music catalogue. This is the Walt Disney World Resort; the guests want to hear Disney tunes. Go buy a Disney fake book; watch the Disney movies; go to Disney.com and see what favorite Disney tunes are being requested or downloaded. Become familiar with the melodies and chord progressions. It doesn’t matter what the instrument; know how to play “When You Wish Upon a Star” before even considering an audition. Once there, be prepared to take requests. The atmosphere in the parks and resorts is that the entertainers are accessible to the guests. Interaction is encouraged while performing and between performances. This atmosphere encourages the guests to request their favorite tunes, and you should try to honour their requests as the entertainers.
7. Join the Central Florida Musicians’ Association. Audition notices for Walt Disney World are sent through Local 389, and the role and open-call auditions may be scheduled through the Local’s offices. For more information, please visit http://afm389.org. There are often times artists want certain roles, but did not know that there were specific auditions for those roles that were already cast because they missed the notices by not being a member.
8. Talk with other Disney musicians. Learn from them. Ask questions. Do some research.
9. Bring a headshot and a resume to your audition. Many of the musician roles are visual as well as audible. Remember that Disney is looking to “cast” you into a role they have created, and need you to look the part. This is why they have a “Casting Center” and employees are called “Cast Members.” Many musicians have the resume, but not the headshot. You need both in the professional world, and please remember your headshot should not be more than a year or two old. It needs to represent your current physical appearance, not ten years ago when you had a different hair color.
10. Learn about the “Disney Look” and come to the audition representing it. Smile!!!! It’s the happiest place on earth, and the musicians should look like they are having fun! If you have tattoos, they need to be covered. If you have multiple piercings, they need to be hidden or removed. If you have facial hair, make sure it is neatly groomed. You can find out more information online about what is expected for appearance. Even as a rock musician, there are standards by which all Cast Members must abide. You don’t have to cut your hair just yet, but remember to keep a neat appearance for the audition.
There are probably many more topics of specific advice that I can cover, but the consistent theme is DO YOUR RESEARCH! This would apply to any role you desire, regardless if it is at Disney or another location. You have to do the legwork and make the phone calls necessary. Employers are not going to call you out of the blue just because you play violin. There usually are not talent scouts at your high school or university wanting you to join professional orchestras or other professional paid positions. If there are scouts, then they usually won’t hire you without an audition. You have to seek them out, apply and audition. And you have to be prepared as best as you possibly can before that audition. Some orchestras/companies only allow you to audition once, and you have to give it your best. Don’t waste their time or yours with mediocrity. Disney’s reputation is about being the best in the entertainment industry, and that’s what they expect in their musicians, too. Once you are hired, always remember why you chose to be there in the first place and let that enthusiasm show in every performance!
By The Weekend Vote
August 3, 2012 21:43
Our instruments can be like good friends or relatives to us, and certainly we tend to personify them.
"My violin is feeling temperamental today," for example, or, "I think my fiddle is unhappy with me today." Hilary Hahn even has a violin case that Tweets, but that might be an extreme example.
In fact, many of us name our violins, as was revealed in a recent V.com discussion.
Personally, maybe I'm strange, but I've never had a name that stuck to my fiddle. Other people have tried to name my violin for me, and occasionally I've thought about giving it a name, but it never quite feels right. Sometimes we call my fiddle "José" because we don't know which Gagliano brother made it, though someone said it looks like a "Joseph Gagliano." Hmmm. It still doesn't feel like a real name!
I have a feeling that if my violin wants a name, it will let me know. ;)
So have you named your violin? I'm not talking about the name pasted on the inside, I'm talking about a personal name you have for it (though those two things might be the same!) And please do share the name in the comments below, and tell the story behind the name!
By Nairobi Young
August 2, 2012 21:39
I think that everyone needs music in their lives. It's so important to the soul tohave. I love music with a passion and almost every genre (key word almost). In classical music, i am more of a romantic girl :).Classical music does something for me that regular music cannot. I can't explain what it might be, but something about hearing a full orchestra perform a piece, makes me feel and want to dance (by the way I also like dancing). There is something that moves through me that gives me nothing but joy.
There are certain pieces that I have listened to that always make me smile or if I am in a bad situation cry but even still I get an emotion from the beautiful mellifluous sound. Pieces like Bruch violin concerto (I am absolutely addicted to the recording on YouTube played by Sarah Chang. I don't know who with but she was wearing a green dress) that is absolutely powerful and filled emotion or Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings op.11a. When I first did my research on it, it was said that when first played, no one left the theater with a dry eye. I always feel a powerful emotion when I hear that song; it has helped me through many a bad situation. One of the happier songs I adore is Stravinsky's Petrouchka. It's such a fairy like song that is so light and complex. It's a very playful song that is always a joy to listen to.
Music can be the typical like Beethoven's Symphony no.2 (which I am playing and ecstatic about) or Mozart's Eine Kline Nachtmusik (played that for my chamber music concert the viola part. I learned that song inside and out all parts) but then there are those musical wonders of more modern music or those composers who go out way out of the musical box. Ravel's La Valse was amazing to me when I first heard it. It was complex and had a sinister feel under the beautiful waltz you heard. It was about WWII and I think it expressed it perfectly. Bartók was an amazing composer and I love his Viola Concerto. That song started my deep journey through music. Ligeti is one of the most odd and amazing composers. I loved his "anti-anti opera" La Grande Macabre. Composers and musicians have such a sense of humor and I love that about the music world.
I love classical music with a passion that cannot be extinguished, which is why (even though so late) I have decided I want to major in this field. I decided this at 15, and I am prepared to work my hardest to get becoming a professional. Nothing will stop me because in my head I will always hear the beautiful blend of strings and winds and brass. Nothing will top the feeling of being in a full orchestra and pouring my heart into my violin (or viola) to help reach the ears of young and old alike. I don't think that classical music will ever go away, I just hope that it will stay around long enough for those younger me and still unborn to be able to experience. Hopefully classical music will once again be able to reach more than it does now.
Music (especially classical) is my world and I don't intend on letting it go anytime soon :).Tweet
V.com blog contest for August: 'Celebrate Classical Music: Why classical music is so fulfilling for me'By Laurie Niles
August 2, 2012 16:21
Dear V.com Friends,
We're going hold little blog contest on Violinist.com for the month of August, and the topic is:
"Celebrate Classical Music: Why classical music is so fulfilling for me."
Though I love many forms of music -- and most of us do -- classical music tends to have a special place in the heart of a violinist, violist or cellist. Classical challenges us, technically, emotionally and musically. It is the kind of music that grows with us, addresses so many emotions and experiences, and even changes meaning for us as we live our lives. And by classical, I simply mean in that tradition, which also includes Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, etc. I'd like this to be a celebration of classical music, broadly defined.
You can write about why it is fulfilling to study this music, to perform it, or to play in an orchestra that performs classical music. You can write about your journey with one particular piece, or your feelings about one particular composer. You can write about how classical music has inspired you in playing music of another genre, or how it has inspired you to write new music. You could write about an experience where classical music brought people together for something bigger. You can write about any other angle that says why you find it fulfilling!
© Silvia Lelli / DG
Here is someone who takes great joy in classical music!
I will choose a winner from every blog entered, and that winner will be awarded a brand-new Violinist.com tote bag in early September, just in time for fall! Meanwhile, we can all enjoy each other's thoughts and insights on this subject.
To enter: Simply post a blog on Violinist.com, under the title, "Celebrate Classical Music." I will keep track of these and make them easy to find for all of us. (If you have never posted a blog on Violinist.com, this page should get you started. If you need further help, please e-mail me.) You can post the essay/blog at any time during the month of August: an hour from now, or at 11 p.m. on August 31. There is no minimum or maximum length for your blog, just do your best to share your most genuine feelings about the matter. I will announce the winner on September 4, with an essay of my own.
Violinist.com music bags! They will officially go on sale in September.
By Anne Akiko Meyers
August 2, 2012 07:53
I am so excited to give one of my gold Arcus violin bows away. I have owned many different violin bows throughout my life, and now play using Tourte and Gold Arcus carbon fiber bows. It is extremely light and spiccato can come out super-clean at lightening speed. I used to think that using a heavy stick produced a bigger sound but now I believe it really is quite the opposite. Physically it takes a different skill to handle well but proper technique helps avoid chronic overuse and tendonitis.
It’s similar to playing tennis. Wood rackets were sturdy back in the day, but the newer titanium, carbon fiber rackets used today, create a top spin and speed that wood simply can not. You don’t have to worry about breaking the Arcus either-I think they say the bow is pretty indestructible!
Please visit my Facebook page for more information on winning one of these bows worth $5000. Good luck!Tweet
By Laurie Niles
August 1, 2012 19:20
The violin concerto by Danish composer Carl Nielsen might not be the most commonly recorded or performed, but it has a passionate and highly competent champion in the 26-year-old Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang.
Her new recording of the Tchaikovsky and Carl Nielsen Violin Concertos, with the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, is one of three she's released in rapid succession: in 2010 she recorded the Sibelius Violin Concerto and Humoresques and Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1; and in 2011 she recorded the Grieg Violin Sonata No. 1; Bartok Sonata for Solo Violin; and Strauss Violin Sonata, Op. 18.
© EMI CLASSICS
At the start of the year, Vilde was awarded the 2012 Credit Suisse Young Artist Award. As a part of that, she will make her debut in September with the Vienna Philharmonic under Bernard Haitink at the 2012 Lucerne Summer Music Festival.
Her teachers have included Kolja Blacher at Musikhochschule Hamburg; and Ana Chumachenco at the Kronberg Academy. She also studied at the The Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo. She plays a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin lent by the Anne-Sophie Mutter Freundeskreis Stiftung.
Speaking with me over the phone last month from Frankfurt, we talked about the Nielsen, about her relationship with Anne-Sophie Mutter, about her family of bassists and her Suzuki start, and more:
* * *
Laurie: I'm so excited that you've recorded the Nielsen. Having perhaps never heard this piece, I was struck with how worthy and likable it is. It has moments of great beauty as well as a kaleidoscope of emotions. While the harmonies are modern, it certainly sticks to a tonal language. How did you personally discover this piece?
Vilde: Nielsen was actually a very late discovery for me -- he is still quite an undiscovered composer. It's very hard to get Nielsen right; I think it's because his music isn't very obvious. Structurally, it's so free -- it swims, in a way. There is a structure, but it's a very exotic, very special, very personal kind of structure. Some people might struggle with Mahler -- Mahler has the same kind of exotic way of structuring music.
Also, technically, the Nielsen is incredibly awkward.
Laurie: I wondered about that.
Vilde: It is, actually. When the Tchaikovsky concerto was premiered, it was considered unplayable because of its technical difficulties, and really, Nielsen is no less difficult to play than the Tchaikovsky concerto! Also, it's a lot of notes!
Laurie: It's a long work, isn't it?
Vilde: It's a very long work, and it's kind of inaccessible, in a way. It's not an easy listen. I enjoy much more playing this concerto than actually listening to it. When I first heard this concerto, I found it very difficult to understand. Then I had to learn this concerto. I had an orchestra engagement with the Danish Orchestra and Nielsen is sort of the great son of Denmark -- they wanted me to come and play Nielsen because part of this concerto was written in Norway. It was actually partly composed in Grieg's home. Nielsen went to visit Grieg's widow in their house, and then when he was staying there he was working in Grieg's working cottage, which is there he composed the first part of this concerto. Since I am a Norwegian, they thought they might make a point out of that.
Then I discovered this piece has a lot of possibilities. It's a wonderful piece for the violin. I think every violinist should play this concerto, because you get challenged not only technically, but also structure-wise. You have to take a bird's eye view of this concerto, you need this kind of perspective.
Laurie: It seems like it changes moods very quickly.
Vilde: That's right, and it can be a little confusing. The challenge is to tie everything together. In that way, it's a little bit like a Danish version of the Elgar concerto actually. The end of the Elgar concerto is very long, and it's kind of the same challenge, with Nielsen.
Laurie: There aren't too many recordings of it, that I found. How did you go about studying it? Honestly I don't know if I've ever heard it, ever, before now. Which is crazy!
Vilde: There is a recording of Nikolaj Znaider, who made it when he was a bit younger. In a way, it's nice that there aren't any prejudices about this violin concerto. It's pretty untouched, and there is no one way to play this concerto, no general opinion. It's still pretty undiscovered.
The thing about this concerto is that you can't just play this concerto 100 percent, you need to be in 140-percent shape. You need to play this music with a lot of purpose, otherwise it won't work out. If you play the Nielsen at 80 percent effort, or 80 percent technically, that sounds horrible, miserable! You need to play with a lot of energy. It might be a daunting task for most people just to approach this concerto.
Also, it's very important not to forget that this is a tonal language. The notes are never just virtuoso effects; they always have a musical purpose. In some ways, this is like the Tchaikovsky Concerto. Tchaikovsky, in the first movement, has all these technical passages, but there are melodies in those passages, even though they are very high and very tricky. It's the same thing with Nielsen. It sounds weird, but it makes Nielsen-sense.
Laurie: What brought you to the violin? Did you start out with the Suzuki method?
Vilde: I did, yes.
My father is a double bass player, and my sister is also a double bass player -- my mother isn't a musician, actually. But I watched my sister play in youth orchestra, when I was small, and obviously I thought I was the next one in line, in the double basses family! To me it was a natural thing, but then my father made this argument: our family had a Volkswagon, which was a very tiny car. He said, 'Can you imagine, when we go on holiday, with three double basses? There is no chance the whole family will get space in the car!"
So he made me a smaller instrument. It was made of cardboard -- there were no strings on it. So I could put my Little Twin Star stickers on it, and Hello Kitty stickers -- but the fact that it didn't make any sound -- I found this to be very frustrating! I had to 'play' on it for almost a year until I finally got a violin which was alive, which made sound.
I remember the moment I got the violin that was real, that was really living and alive -- I've never practiced so inspired in all my life, as I did the first couple of days with that violin! I was in seventh heaven, I was so happy.
Laurie: And now you have much better than a cardboard violin, you have a Vuillaume that you play, is that right?
Vilde: That's correct.
Laurie: How did that all come about, with Anne-Sophie Mutter and her foundation?
Vilde: I first played for Anne-Sophie Mutter when I was 11 years old. After that, she asked me to keep her updated, and she followed my development. I kept sending her recordings and tapes of my playing, and letters about how I was doing. It was obviously a very inspirational thing for me, because I knew that she was always there watching, somewhere. When I was 15, she invited me to Munich to audition for her again, and then I was taken into her foundation, her Freundeskreis Stiftung, or Circle of Friends Foundation, and I was also given this Vuillaume instrument.
I've been playing the Vuillaume for eight years now. Over the years, it's opened a lot. It has the most beautiful voice! It's not perfect; I've had a lot of fights, a lot of quarrels, with this instrument over the years. I still do, because it's got a horrible wolf on every C and B natural, in every octave! But still, I love it so much. It's not perfect, but it's like me: I'm also not perfect. I think we've improved each other so much over the years.
Ms. Mutter has also been a great, great mentor to me over all these years. I did a tour with her in 2008, and we played in Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center in Washington. I played the Bach Double with her. Of course, I learned a lot from this experience, not only playing for her, but playing with her.
Laurie: She's a really spontaneous player, it seems to me. What kinds of things did you learn from her?
Vilde: I think the most important was that she encouraged me to always trust my own instincts and follow my own voice. That is her top priority, and that's the message she wanted to give, which I think is a wonderful thing.
But more than any other musician I know, she is extremely focused on exploring the musical score, in order to get as close as possible to the composer. Many people might consider her to be very free, but actually she has the most authentic and strictest approach that I know of. I think that is why she allows herself to have that amount of freedom. The more you know the piece and the better you know the score, the more freedom you actually have yourself.
Laurie: When you won the Credit Suisse contest you were playing the wonderful Bartok Op. Posthumous, (she plays this piece in the background on this video, starting 1:40, then 3:00, etc.) I love that piece; I used to feel like I was the only one who knew about that piece, but obviously I'm not, you're playing it!
Vilde: Isn't it strange? Because so few people know about this concerto, it's too bad.
Laurie: I love that one movement is one thing, and the other is just complete insanity, completely unhinged.
Vilde: Bartok dedicated this concerto to the girl he was so much in love with, Stefi Geyer, and it really portrays "she and he," I think. The first movement is very dedicated to her; it opens with the "Stefi" theme, which you can also find throughout the concerto. In the second movement, it's very much the young boy who is proud and he wants to make an impression on her. It shows another side of Bartok. Most people imagine Bartok as very rough composer, and I think he's actually very lyrical, and extremely pure. For me he's the most pure composer of the 20th century, actually. He's so close to Bach: he doesn't need to add anything, because it's not necessary. Something about his musical expression is so honest.
Laurie: You've performed a lot of Bartok -- your second recording also has the Bartok solo Sonata.
Vilde: I did record the Bartok solo Sonata, which is my favorite piece.
(Below is an excerpt from the Bartok solo Sonata; if you want to hear her play it all, here is a link with no video.)
Laurie: What makes it your favorite?
Vilde: It is like a monologue, really. The structure is kind of a Baroque structure. It is like a journey, to play that piece. I've never been as focused as when playing this piece; it requires such an effort from the performer -- and also from the audience. Frankly, when I was learning this piece, I was a little bit anxious about how the audience would react to it, because it's not easy listening. I thought, 'Are they going to cough? Are they going to leave? How are they going to react?' In reality, when I'm playing the Bartok Sonata, it feels like the connection is stronger than ever. I think the audience is very hypnotized by this music. It's such a powerful piece.
Laurie: You grew up in Norway, where do you live now?
Vilde: I'm moving from Munich to Berlin. I've been living in Munich for five years, and I'm moving to Berlin.
Laurie: What's coming up for you?
Vilde: I'm looking forward to making my debut with the Vienna Philharmonic in September at the Lucerne Festival,as part of the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award, with Bernard Haitink conducting. Also, I will be making my Proms debut with the BBC Philharmonic, next summer. I'm taking part in quite a lot of festivals, and there quite a lot going on for the time being. This CD was just released in June.
Laurie: You'll be doing the Sibelius with the Vienna, and you've also recorded it. Tell me your thoughts on that concerto.
Vilde: The Sibelius Concerto is another close relation of mine! It's a piece I feel very attached to, and a piece I'm known for. It was such a milestone. When I was a kid, I remember listening to this piece and imagining that one day I would be able to play these notes myself. Now that I've sort of ascended that mountain, that only gave me a new perspective. Now it's a little bit like becoming this mountain, when I'm playing it. My approach to the piece is changing all the time -- I think I'm playing it very differently now from the recording I made just two years ago.
Laurie: That's allowed, isn't it? It's a good sign.
Vilde: I think so. It's like certain words, which change meaning over the years. When you're four years old, "love" might mean one thing, and then when you're 20 years old it might mean something else. The same thing with age 32, age 58, or 71 -- it's always changing. The power of this word is always getting different, and I think it's the same with music, no?
Laurie: It's the same with music, and the wonderful thing is that I think when you're 58 it still means what it meant to you when you were four and it still means what it meant to you when you were 20, it just means more.
Vilde: Yes exactly! But also you articulate it in a different way, I think, and you have a different approach to it.
(Vilde Frang, on the Bruch Violin Concerto, which she played with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Jakub Hrusa in April 2012.)
By Emily Hogstad
August 1, 2012 15:02
My last blog entry was about the Minnesota Orchestra and the general awesomeness of their new concertmaster, Erin Keefe. You can hear the Beethoven program that I wrote about at 8pm CST tonight on Minnesota Public Radio (try the classical stream at minnesotapublicradio.org). On tap is the Coriolan Overture, the Eroica, and the violin concerto, with Ms. Keefe in her concerto debut with the Orchestra. Trust me, this is a concert not to be missed...it's one of the greatest orchestras in America in some of the repertoire they play best. If you do catch it, let me know what you thought in the comments. I love comparing impressions of performances with other listeners.
As I mentioned in my last blog, if you feel moved to do so, visit and like the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra Facebook page.Tweet
By Kahne Raja
July 31, 2012 16:47
Here is a sob success story.
Basically, my solution to burnout is to start collaborating with local musicians and work together to create new and interesting opportunities. This is why I built Musomap.com
I'm writing this post in response to the following comments on burnout.
I previously replied (via the comments on MusicianWages.com) with my thoughts on 'dedication to the art' VS 'a more secure career'. Now that I've had some time to think on this further I've realised that this question is pivotal to my music and family life.
I grew up with my brother performing classical violin. We both fell out from music in our early 20s and he has since gone on to experience an extraordinary life of stress and mental health disruption. To some extent I believe the pressure of music performance on his youth was linked to his complete rejection of society. This experience has made me realise that music is demanding work and requires more support. Being a musician ain't easy.
To start with I'd like to focus on an economic principle. Supply and demand. People love music, which is great, and if you have a skill then you can supply a music service but how do you find demand? Well, sorry to say it but, you will have to create this demand. Look at Apple, they've done a stella job convincing us we all need unnecessary stuff. Convince people! If you want to get cash for your art you need to find or create demand - finding demand is a skill in itself. The service we musicians provide to the community is valuable and we need to find a way to capitolise, just like athletes.
I mentioned earlier that I, along with my brother, fell out of the professional classical music game in our early 20s. I'm now 31. Unlike my brother, I had luck on my side, and found an alternative career in software development.
After a few years off I was encouraged to join a local amateur orchestra, an old friend needed an extra violin (any level - they didn't care), and even though I was shit scared I decided to go along and give it a go. There was something exhausted and depressing about arriving at that first rehearsal. Playing in that orchestra was not exactly satisfying but it help me make new music friends.
Making music friends is massively important if you want to succeed. As previously discuss on Musician Wages, the good jobs in music are never advertised. More often than not they are handed out privately through word of mouth, just like most jobs.
After a few months of performing with a number of orchestra in Sydney, for free, I found myself connecting with lots of professional musicians and playing at countless corporate and private events. These gigs were straight up and kinda boring but they led me on to other types of creative performances and success. I now perform with the Sydney Independent Opera.
My success as a musician, and my solution to burnout, has lead me to create Musomap.com
Do you collaborate with your local musicians enough?
By Dottie Case
July 30, 2012 16:10
The arts school where I work does two major productions every summer...a musical and an opera. (Our season is summer only, due to lack-of-heat and need-of-new-roof in our historical building). This summer we scheduled Carousel and La Boheme, and last week(19th-22nd) was show week for Carousel.
It ended up being a really amazing show (I had previous reservations about this show due to the truly-dreadful-and-insipid movie I'd seen, starring a young Shirley Jones) and, as is true of show week, it was all-enveloping. We lived and breathed Carousel for the last 8 days straight, and everyone involved felt highly invested in this really lovely performance. We closed on Sunday afternoon, exhausted but feeling like we had really been part of something major.
The very next Wednesday was the first orchestral rehearsal for La Boheme. I am unfamiliar with this Opera (I'm a slowly-learning novice when it comes to Opera), and am playing viola (!!!) for this show. As I dragged my tired self to rehearsal, I didn't know what to expect, but I was absolutely blown away. We had a skeleton string section there... 1 first, no 2nd, 1 viola.... but there were places where I could just HEAR the whole fleshed-out orchestra, and it blew me away. The lushness and romance was more than I expected.
On the way home that night, I found myself thinking, not for the first time, about the temporal nature of almost all that we do. Four days prior to that rehearsal, we were a part of creating something wonderful for Carousel... the audiences were moved to tears and thunderous applause. And yet, at the end of it, we erased our books, packed away the stand lights, and immediately moved into the next work that will (we hope) move an audience to tears and applause. While it's happening, it's huge and defining and all-encompassing...and then it's over and gone and we're onto the next thing.
This is the nature of what we do. The finest recording equipment cannot capture that 'thing' that exists between audience, actors and musicians, and a composer. It's ephemeral and fleeting... This is true of many moments in life too...'joy' cannot be captured and held onto. Just experienced and maybe even savored. Still, the balance for us all is to be able to be fully in the moment of making music, (in the hugest definition of that phrase) and then be able to move to the next thing, in its time, even if that means mere days later. AND, it's impossible, not to mention counter-productive, to attempt to live in the future. Meaning, there was no way to be experiencing Puccini while engrossed in Carousel...and the attempt would have robbed each.
It seems to me that the sort of ability to be 'in the moment fully' is a skill that might be well transferred to the rest of life. I'm better at in in music than I am in my daily life.
I've spent much of the last month virtually crippled with waiting and agonizing over what would/would not be my job status in September; and how might I prepare for the various possibilities. I've finally decided that since I cannot know, I'm going to let August be fully about August, and attempt to live as intensely in all of those things as I can, before September comes and demands its due.
Luckily for me, August contains La Boheme and a week of Chamber Music camp for me.
Enter to win Leonidas Kavakos' recording of the Brahms Violin Concerto.
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