Every New Year's Eve, I feel the need to spend some time reflecting on the year, and what I've accomplished throughout it. I feel that 2015 was, for me, a particularly good year musically because of all the opportunities I had throughout as I progressed from a high school student to a college student at Augustana. I thought that it would be very nice to post an entry regarding some of the main things I did throughout the year that really helped boost my musical career along.
Overall, this was the year I really began to dive in and understand Maurice Ravel, not just as a composer, but as a human being through reading the many letters he sent in Paris and in the many other places he vacationed at. I have had lots of mini-obsessions with a particular piece of his, and I know that I will continue to analyze and discover new things about his music - particularly in regards to orchestration, which I know I will be learning about some of his particular techniques in orchestration classes throughout the next couple years.
I feel like, as a composer, growing to meet Ravel's style and combining it with my own (explored particularly starting with the summer String Quartet and on), I've really focused more on putting together the clockwork and editing a piece as much as I can until I know it is exactly how I want it, rather than my brute force strategy of getting to the next piece. I only composed six (finished) pieces this year, although they are all, for the most part, fairly large works, so I'm proud of them, especially my 15-minute "symphony" I did in May and my quartet. I hope that next year sometime my friends who I wrote the quartet for will find the time to give an attempt at playing it, which will be cool to hear - I've played bits of it myself as well. I got to have the end of my large 2014 work, "Birds of Prey", played by a live, full symphony orchestra as well, which was an amazing experience to listen to. I'm currently in the middle of my "Tour of the World" piece, an orchestral suite of sorts where each movement represents a different country. I compose at the piano first, and then orchestrate. Currently, I'm in the middle of orchestrating "Spain" and have begun writing "Japan", and the movement I've finished, "Paris", will have some orchestration things I plan on editing, so I'm not going to post any previews of the piece yet. It's quite a fun piece to work on over the New Year, however, and I can't wait to continue it in January.
As a violinist, I feel like I've grown a lot, really working to develop a sound that will be great for everyone to listen to. Playing my "Little Snow-White" concerto at my April recital will always be a great way to cap off a year of hard work on a single piece of music I composed. Plus, I got to go to Italy, which was very inspiring and will continue to be as I move on through life and desire to travel to more countries around the world. I got to play the first violin part of my "Into the Forest" piece I worked on re-composing in January, and then the Augustana Symphony Orchestra as I began my college career - it's always a thrill hearing the winds and brass and percussion behind me as I'm playing, with different instruments used depending on what piece we're playing - it's nice the strings are always a constant. I've begun playing lots of Ravel violin parts this year as well, since last year I only listened and absorbed. I've enjoyed working a little on both his violin sonatas, which I've developed slowly this fall and winter in the practice room at Augie, and right now I'm working on the first movement of the Trio, the violin part, since it's such a fun piece to play and really lets me have lots of fun practicing the violin, since currently I'm taking a break from orchestra music. I feel that I've really improved my bow control, getting rid of most of the crunch I had I cringe at when I watch my early 2012 videos on YouTube, and I have been able to fashion the instrument I currently have into something I have combined with my own compositions a lot more than I had done before. I'm really proud of the hard work I've put into practicing violin and understanding playing it in a whole new way since the beginning of the year. I even spent the summer getting particularly interested in how violins are made, and I posted a link to one particular video I watched every morning to get me ready to compose my string quartet in one of those past entries you can flip through.
Some other musical events I have enjoyed throughout the year include the summer BBC Proms! The BBC YouTube Channel, and BBC Radio 3, always post preview videos from parts of the new concerts, as well as other YouTubers posting the full concerts online. This year, there was a cool Bernstein Night I remember enjoying, and when I heard a part of Beethoven 9 after watching the video, I printed out the violin I part to play a little bit of. Hearing a good majority of Holst's "The Planets", as performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, was always a fun thing to listen to, since I'd always loved that piece in 2012. Although I don't think there were any new Ravel (videos) I could find, I remember being particularly excited last year when the "Bolero" popped up, and I really enjoyed watching that. The Proms are still an event I hope to go to myself someday if I can get over to London one summer, and even though I can't go to them myself, they're still a part of the culture that I'm able to enjoy in videos anyway overseas.
One other quick thing I wanted to mention was about the new movie scores of this year - Tomorrowland (May) was a great score I really enjoyed by Michael Giacchino, with some sweeping violins for a main theme, and of course the new Star Wars film (December), which I just saw and posted a link of my review in the last entry, was a fantastic new Williams score that I really enjoyed, with lots of references back to the material which he composed in the original trilogy. Although I am not as obsessed with film music as I was in 2013 and even the beginning half of 2014, it's still an aspect of music that I enjoy hearing and especially now thinking about their inspirations. I still haven't lost sight of my own possible desire to be a film composer, and next year I might actually have an opportunity to write a film score to a film directed by one of my friends at Augie, but we'll see what happens. I may have mentioned my little film music podcast I started in December 2012 in the past SymphonicScore, but I ended it for now in August 2015 I believe. Almost three years and forty episodes, all with different types of film music which was a fun experience and will be fun to listen to on walks if I'm bored one day, especially to see how I listened to a Williams score back in 2012 as compared to in 2014, for example.
From everything I've done or observed musically this year, I have had a blast discovering new music and new ideas for playing both my instruments. I can't wait to see what 2016 will become, and maybe it will be even better than this year. I just feel that this was the first year I really began to develop the music I play, write, and listen to, and so much has happened this year that, obviously, since you're reading this, I felt the need to put in one place. I hope you all have a nice and relaxing evening tonight, or else partying with friends, and then hopefully you'll have some new Resolutions to make for the New Year. Happy New Year, everybody! See you all in 2016, maybe with an extra-special first post...! :)
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