March 2005

March 29, 2005 16:39

I now have the whole first movement memorised, though it needs work but that is to be expected. I'm currently using my dad's computer. If my computer is dead this is the computer that I will be getting, which is an upgrade from mine, but a long way short from the one I was hoping of getting - this is a PIII 533mhz where as I was hoping for a P4 2.8ghz. Oh well, this one can still run Sibelius.

I'm going for a Job Interview today - Wine Tasting. Sounds cool eh? It would involve me going to various bottle shops around the metro area every Saturday night and allowing the customers to taste various wines. Sounds like a nice job that I would enjoy doing. I first applied for it as it seemed interesting and a bit of novelty, but now that I've had this interview planned for about a week for me to think about it, I've come to really looking forward for this job.

I can't say when I'll blog again, hopefully soon. It hasn't been as hard to spend some time on the computer, it's just finding the time.

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March 23, 2005 16:10

Well I have the Exposition and half of the development memorised of the Mozart, I'll be working on the second half today. I think I'll get alot more done over this weekend. Mainly because I don't have a computer to play on :)

I have my own computer, which is connected to a home network with broadband. Obviously I'm on there alot, doing a variety of things. But I can't do that now. It's had a "Primary Master Hard Disk Fail" - sounds kinda fatal.
My computer is old, and probably well past it's use-by date. I wouldn't mind getting a new one, but it's the money, or more the lack of it.

But not having a computer means that this weekend I'll be able to get alot more done. I can spend more time practicing, studying and composing, even if I have to do that composing by hand. I think I remember how to do that ;)

Well, this might be the last you see of me for a bit. I'm using my dad's computer so I can't really garuntee me being on here often. And because it's easter I won't be able to get my computer fixed until at least tuesday, if i'm lucky.

I'll see you later, and I wish everyone a happy Easter.

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March 21, 2005 04:01

Well a new week has started, and I had my lesson today. Worked on the Mozart Concerto. My teacher told me that I needed to hold my violin higher and memorise the Mozart so I didn't need to look at the music on a stand that didn't go high enough. I'm really coming along with the Mozart, I'm pleased with how It's sounding 4 weeks into learning it.

After that I went to the lecture. It's "Project/Production week" at my uni. The vocalists are in rehearsals preparing for Opera Scenes. The rest of the students are attending video lectures by Leonard Bernstein when he was at Harvard. The Lecture series is on "The Unanswered Question" and although I came in late, it does look really interesting. Shame though, as I was hoping that it would be boring so that I could plough through my book on the fugue. Oh well, I'm sure these lectures will be worth it.

I spend some time with my girlfriend before starting practice today. When I got started, I worked first on my String Quartet stuff. I'm preparing the first Quartet from Haydn's Op. 20, and I'm playing first violin, which means I have a fair bit of practice to do. Haydn's early quartets (up to Op. 33) rely on the first violin alot, where as after this the other parts take on more of a role. Admittedly, some of the quartets in Op. 20 have more weight on the other parts, with 3 quartets having fugues as the final movements, but not the one we're doing.

After the quartet, I started on my Bach (seeing as it's his birthday and all). Worked on the Largo mainly. I need to get the chords cleaner, I'm not liking the tone that I produce.

Then worked on the Mozart. Started to work on memorising the first movement. I got through the exposition, so I thought I was doing pretty well. I just need to make sure that I ensure that it's still there tomorrow.

I'm about to start another hour of practice now, working on my Suk. I haven't really practiced it for a bit, but I feel I should start preparing it now so that it's an option for the Fremantle Eisteddfod in May. I'd really like to perform the Mozart, but only if it's ready. I think the Suk would be the better choice, as I've already performed it, and it's a fun piece to play.

After the suk, I might do a bit of work on the Mozart Cadenza. I don't have a lesson for two weeks, thanks to the Easter Monday Holiday, but I'd really like to be able to play the whole first movement, with cadenza, from memory when I get back.

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March 16, 2005 07:27

Did 4 hours practice today. Yay! I like achieving my targets :)

I did some work on my Bach at the piano today, very interesting. I played the two voices with seperate hands. It was interesting to realise that "hey, now the lower part has the melody" instead of going "ok, double stop, a few notes on the ging, and back to the melody." After doing that, the Bach came out rather clearly, I thought.

I'm having a look into the Fugue. Not as in a Fugue from one of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas, but Fugues in General. I'm wanting to write one as part of a composition that I'm preparing for my Church's 10th Anniversary, so I thought "well, If i'm going to write a Fugue, I best know what it involves." I was going to get Bach's Kunst Der Fuge (The Art of Fugue) but they only had it in German. Not much use to me. But I found a book which looks interesting and should tell me a fair bit about it, plus i've got a couple of Anthologies completely of Fugues, one Up to Bach, and one from Bach onwards. SO I shall be having fugal fun over the next couple of weeks.
I'll let you know once the piece is completed. It's being performed in November, so It'll be up on my site after that (Ben Clapton, Violinist and Composer). I've got a pianist who's going to prepare Una Principessa for me, and we'll record that soon. That'll be up on the website. I'm planning for a revamp of the site around June/July, as it's geting a bit dated, and the banners are mostly wrong now. Time for new navigation. :)

Well that's it for now, time for me to go read another chapter on the history of Fugues.

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March 9, 2005 07:58

Better day today. Got 2 hours practice done. Would've been three but things came up. First, I had started practicing my Mozart which would've been my third hour for the day, but I noticed that someone has messaged me on MSN, and I've been needing to talk to him to arrange some stuff for our youth group that's happening this Friday. So that hour was lost, because I needed to go to uni after that.

I had a room booked for two hours today, but I got caught up in the library getting some music out for chamber music. If you don't get to the room in 10 minutes, you have to forfeit it if there's someone else there. So there was that practice gone.

But still, two hours was good. I did scales and my Bach. It was the first time i had actually practiced the bach with the fingerings and bowings that my teacher had given me. I think for this first week, it's going to be real slow practice, getting all the notes in tune, with the correct fingerings and bowings. Well, at least this first week.

Well, I should get to bed. I've got an early start tomorrow, get in some practice before uni.

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March 8, 2005 05:49

Turns out that UWA decided that they would only accept a certain number of strings for the orchestra. Apparently they thought they weren't going to have enough strings, hence the con got told that everyone would be accepted. Then they had too many, but the con wasn't told that the auditions were actually whether we would get into the orchestra or not.

There's a bit of angst between the con and uwa atm. They don't treat us with much respect, and apparently they don't treat their students with much either. The con has two "new" students who have transferred over from UWA. They both complained that UWA doesn't really respect the students in many professional aspects.

After the audition yesterday and the results today, I didn't really feel like practicing. I could force myself to practice, but I feel that unless you actually feel like practicing, you don't get as much done.

I was feeling really dissolusioned this afternoon. Doubting myself, doubting my musicality. Wondering whether music was the right choice or whether I should have chosen something different.

After talking with a friend from uni (oboist z), I was convinced that all it means is that I just have to work harder so that they can have no reason but to accept me next year.

Unfortunately, that means getting inspired. So I spent another evening infront of the simpsons, and now I'm re-inspiring myself with my inspirational pieces which I haven't listened to for a while (me thinks I should spend more time listening to these pieces).

Right now I'm listening to Heifetz playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, and later on tonight I shall listen to the Mendelssohn concerto played by Kreisler. I'll also probably have a listen to the Beethoven Symphonies over this week, because they are works of real class.

Ahh, 12 minutes into the Tchaik, and I'm beginning to feel inspired again :)

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March 7, 2005 03:48

Had auditions for Uni Orchestra today. We had exerpts from Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 2, Mozart Symphony number 40, and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet suite 2.

My lesson today was spent on those exerpts as it was my only lesson time I had since receiving the exerpts and the audition this afternoon. I then spend two hours at uni practicing them. By the end of that, they were sounding really good. I was pretty confident.

It didn't really matter how I did in this audition, as all the string players were garenteed a spot, the audition was just for desk placement. I guess I really wanted to perform well though, just to prove it to someone.


I'm at the Conservatory of Music, which is part of the Western Australian Acadamy of Performing Arts. It's one of two music instutions in WA, the other being the School of Music at UWA. UWA is rather pompous - it has the highest entry requirements of any of the universities in WA, and of course, this makes everyone want to go there believing that they will do better there, or their degree will be worth more because it came from that uni.

Most of the string players attend UWA, because they have a "better" teacher in Paul Wright. I admit, he is a very good teacher, and I would like to learn from him one day should a better offer not come along. However, I have more chance from learning from him, me being at a different uni, than every first year that applies there.

UWA would love to run the con out of business (my opinion only). Most of the orchestra will be of UWA players. Last year, the only two oboists enrolled in a performance course were from the Con. So what did UWA do? They begged and pleaded with an old oboist (and very good mind you) who wasn't doing Performance any more, to be in the orchestra.
And once it got to the final concert, they decided that they wanted a fully UWA wind section, so all the con players were told they were no longer neccessary.

So, I guess I kind of wanted to show UWA in my mind that the con does produce good players, of the quality of UWA. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way.

I wasn't really nervous before the audition. But I was put in an unfamiliar circumstance. I had to go into the audition and not say a word. THe Adjudicator was behind a screen. I was told to write my name on a sheet of paper, tune up, then start. My Rachmaninov wasn't too bad, a bit of nerves, and I hoped that they'd go away as I kept playing. However, they didn't. Mozart started ok, but got worse. Prokofiev was horrid. I missed my shifts, was vastly out of tune. I was ashamed of my performance.

I probably didn't sound too bad, and I'm sure that if I had been able to see the adjudicator, I would've been more confident, and he would've been able to see if I was nervous or not. Now I have to hope that the adjudicator heard nerves, and not "this person has bad technique."

I was going to do some practice tonight, but it's boiling hot. ANd after the audition, I think I just want to grab a beer and veg out in front of the telly.

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March 1, 2005 01:51

Well, Uni is getting under way. We had our first Chamber Music lesson today. Looks like it will be run much better than last year. I'm in a Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano ensemble. Apparently there's some good repertoir available. I'm also going to be forming a string quartet, so I was having a look at some repertoir for that today. I'm thinking Haydn Op 20, No 1. That one sounds nice and doesn't look too hard for any of the parts. I also like Op 20, No 2, but I'm not certain of the cellists ability.

IN our lunchtime concert today, we had Perth based chamber group "Guapo" perform. This is an interesting chamber group consisting of Zak Rowntree on violin (studied at Chethams School of music, University of York, Royal College of Music), Tom O'Halloran on piano (Bachelor of Jazz Performance from WA Conservatorium, and Bob Wylie Family Scholarship winner), Peter Jeavons on Bass (Bachelor of Jazz Performance from WA Conservatorium, Perth Jazz Society's Most Outstanding Jazz Artist in 2000), Paul Tanner on Vibraphone and Percussion (BMus with first class honours from the University of Western Australia, plus a Masters which included time in the US), and Catherine Cahill on Clarinet (BMus from UWA, and post graduate studies in London and New York).

This group formed so that they could play and perform the tangos of Astor Piazzolla. They have three fantastic composers amongst them (Tom O'Halloran and Pete Jeavons, who are two of Perth's finest jazz composers, and Paul Tanner, who has composed a number of pieces for Percussion ensembles), and not only perform Piazzola's works, but works by other composers in a range of styles.

This performance reminded me that Chamber music doesn't have to be about forming a quartet, or a piano trio, or the ensembles that we have gotten used to over time. There are plenty of new works out there, and the composers are taking the initiative to blend sounds that haven't been heard before.

Admittedly, some things don't work. If it ain't broke don't fix it (or perhaps, if it ain't Baroque, don't play it :> hehe). But this combination of some of the finest performers in their fields playing music they all enjoyed just worked.

That's the thing I think that matters. If you want to form a string quartet, good for you. Don't worry about making sure that you play the "essentials" - Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, etc. If you want to play something that you enjoy, then play it.

Performing isn't just about playing to please the public. Performing is about sharing with the public a piece that we enjoy playing, and if they see that we enjoy playing it, then it's more likely to have an effect on them.

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