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Mendy Smith

C Music

April 20, 2010 at 12:50 AM

This past Sunday, I performed the Rebecca Clarke's Passacaglia at church with our pianist Carl McAliley.   As the church's organist, pianist and 'harpsichordist', Carl is often called upon to accompany the various musicians within the church when we play a piece for the service.   He has that rare gift of not only being able to perform some incredibly difficult solo works on a variety of keyed instruments with great skill, but also of accompanying soloists. 

During our two rehearsal sessions, we spent quite a bit of time on the drastic tempo changes, from the I Tempo, to allargando, to ritardando to molto ritardando; all within the last two measures of the piece.  His advice on how to make those changes was invaluable.  The balance of dynamics were a bit tricky as well.  On viola, playing FF on the C string is a bit of an art - balancing the dynamic without either distorting the pitch or producing an awful scratching sound.  However at the end of our last rehearsal, we were satisfied with the results.

Sunday morning came too early.  I hardly had any sleep the previous night, partly due to nerves, but mostly due to coming down with a cold that would hit me hard later in the day.  We had the chance to run through the piece twice before the service started.  The first time through was a little rough.  I was reminded by Carl that no matter what happened, I couldn't stop.  The second time through was more like our previous rehearsal.

The performance went well, though I completely blew one note towards the end (but please, don't tell anyone!).  After the service was over, Carl came up to me with a big grin on his face.  He had really enjoyed playing the Clarke.  A few of the folks at the service offered praise as well.

I'm learning more about performance these days than simply overcoming stage fright: making the most of limited rehearsal time, exploring and balancing the full range of dynamics, and putting the skills I've learned over the years to work to tell a story. 

Maybe in a few weeks, some S music will be ready.


From Dave Snow
Posted on April 20, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Hi Mendy; I just couldn't resist replying to this. I play in church also (for the past 10 years--Victory Churches International) on the praise & worship band. only I play lead guitar. Standard set up, keyboards, electric guitar & bass & drums. We do fairly high energy contemporary christian rock, based around major keys with their relative minors. About 7 songs every Sunday, 3 or 4 fast ones, then we slow it down to what I could probably only musically catagorize as rock ballads. We're a pretty lively bunch.

I've tried working my barcus berry elctric/acoustic violin in a few times, and it does work quite well, but it's a bit of a hassle switching back and forth.

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