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Mendy Smith

'Tis the Season to Make Music

December 5, 2009 at 2:45 AM

It is that time of year again.  Outdoor activities give way to indoor activities.  That means rehearsals, practice and concerts.  Last Sunday, I played a Bach Viola da Gamba Sonata at church (still no recurrance of stage fright!).  And due to some strange twist of fate I will NOT be playing the Messiah this year.  Instead, this Sunday I will be playing the Corelli Christmas Concerto  - twice! 

Personally, I've been branching out a bit, putting Bach to the side for the moment.  Vieuxtemps' Cappricio is my latest endeavor.  I've heard it performed once by Charles Noble, assistant principal violist at the OSO.  It knocked my socks off, and immediately went into my "bucket list" of pieces to learn - someday.  On the surface it seems simple enough,   the main melody on its own is relatively simple to play.  But then add in the chords, up-bow staccato, chromatic fingerings, turns, progressive double-stops, and gradual building of the dynamics, and this piece pushes my limits, and then some. 

I've also dusted off Bloch's Suite Hebraique.  It's concerto competion season at my community orchestra and what better piece to play than the one I worked so hard on for months earlier this year?  It is one of my favorite pieces for viola, taking full advantage of the range of the instrument.  Surprisingly, I still have it mostly committed to memory which is freeing me up to focus on other aspects of this piece and my technique.  Maybe I'll perform it again at my church if we can figure out how to work in 10 minutes of music in a 4 minute slot.

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