Music for my Autumn 2017

September 4, 2017, 8:04 AM · Similarly to last year, I thought I'd do a quick update on stuff that's going on musically for me this term - as it's a lot!

First, the orchestra! I'm leader of the seconds, and we're playing lots of great stuff this term, just like last year! This fall's theme is "Avant Garde Fantasies" with some music we studied in Paris during that trip (Satie's Parade), which was a thrill to hear the orchestra playing for the first time. We're also playing Debussy's Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun, a lovely work where all the strings get this gorgeous French melody halfway through, and then loads of Stravinsky: his 1941 arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner" to open the concert, his 1942 Circus Polka (for a young elephant), and finally, to end the second half, his 1919 Firebird Suite! We're also taking all this music (and possibly a bit more) on a very brief tour at the very beginning of November in the Chicago region, where we'll get to go to the Art Institute and learn more about Cubism, Picasso, and Satie - which, of course, I saw plenty of in various art museums (like the Pompidou museum) in Paris!

That's all plenty fun, but I'm also taking part (first violin) in the chamber orchestra for our annual fall opera this term as well (which will be later in November). While last year was a lovely Christmas production, this year I get to celebrate my love of England with an all-English show! While large orchestra is full of this majestic music, this small orchestra will be full of more intimate, serious music, opening with Finzi's gorgeous "A Severn Rhapsody" (an English pastorale apparently). As soon as I heard that piece, I was taken right back to playing his "Prelude for String Orchestra" (op. 25) in f minor in 2013 at high school. Essentially, now I really want to blend a little bit of this Englishness into my own composition style in the future with my French! I've done some sketching... Anyways. Then we'll be going into Vaughan-Williams' opera "Riders to the Sea" which is actually full of signature Vaughan-Williams, in the violin part at least. We'll be playing more British music this spring as well with the full orchestra!

So as you can see, I'm very excited for all this great music. In my lessons I bought a part for Ravel's Violin Sonata No. 2, which I was informally working on over the summer, so now it's very exciting to be working on it in lessons, too. I really feel like I have a much larger handle over playing the violin and I'm in much more control. Perhaps taking a break from it for five weeks (and learning about concentration when working on Ravel's Piano Concerto in G, the second movement, as well this summer) allowed me to both physically and mentally approach the instrument differently, and I'm excited to see where all my performing activities take me throughout my third year at Augustana!

A couple other quick things for posterity: I'm writing quite a few musical papers this term alone as well! For Music History (which is really exciting already, getting into the 13th century and early instruments), one of my papers will be on the early violin - the wood used to make it and Stradivari's (probably) influences on its development. A second paper may possibly have to do with Vivaldi's Four Seasons in some way, perhaps the "Autumn" movement, my favourite - I'd love to revisit that piece for a smaller paper just like I did with "Winter" in 2013. My New Music Seminar paper, which is an analytical piece about music released from 2001-2017, is actually going to be on the soundtrack of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I've mentioned this game in passing a few times when it came out in March, and I ended up buying it for my (unplayed) Wii U this summer when I got home from Paris (too much musical incentive for me to even want the new Nintendo Switch! I can watch videos of it on YouTube.). In my personal future of composing for film and/or games, I thought it would be helpful to really analyze the music of what is definitely my favourite and see what kind of risks it takes, like using traditional Japanese instruments, and how the musical references to earlier in the series are slowed down. Lots of great solo violin moments in the score, and lots of lovely orchestral things in general, too! Because of all this work, my composing might be more minimal this term, but hopefully next term I can start up and do even more work - start my orchestra piece that I will continue to sketch for on walks, inspired by both the lovely season of autumn but also by my desire to return to my 2014 style a bit, and start to blend all that I've learnt these past couple years from writing lots of music influenced by Ravel. I'm ready to take some risks of my own!

So yeah, that pretty much covers it. It will be very busy, but there are so many exciting things that are going to be happening this term that get me really happy when I think about how almost everything is related to the wonderful subject of music! Thanks for reading through the updates of an ecstatic college student. We'll see how tired I get by week 6 or 7. :P


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