May 2004

May 31, 2004 16:31

Today I am completely exhausted. The lack of sleep I've gotten over the past three or four days is catching up with me. I am having a hard time beliving that I actually have managed to pull off 4 dance concerts and 2 fiddle concerts since Thursday with Friday and today (Monday) off. Hmm.....

I've "retired" from dance now. I had a hard time keeping myself together before my last performance. My group was on first after intermission and they closed the curtains, so remembering having stepped on a hair pin in the last concert I started pacing around in the area that I danced checking for pins. I found I just kept pacing looking, trying not to think about it being the last performance until after it was over. It's so hard to say goodbye after nearly 13 years spent there and having known most of my teachers since I was about 3 years old. I think when I get the rest of my pictures back and start putting them all into a photo album I'll probably have a good cry. I've been trying to keep it in, but I don't think I can do that for much longer. Luckily all the concerts were video taped and I'm getting a copy of my personal best performance to have as a memory. I have relatives who really want to see it, and even though I'm not sure I'll watch it, it will be nice to have that option and know that I do have something to show for my work from this past year.

Today I've been taking it easy. On Friday night I was in bed asleep by 2am and then was up shortly after 4am, and I've only got about 5 and a half or 6 hours each night since then so I'm a little on the tired side, especially having done all those concerts in there for dance then the fiddle stuff for the Children's Festival.

I think I feel like doing a bit of practicing right now.

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May 26, 2004 14:30

It's over! I did the audition. I could have played better, but it went alright overall. I really still dislike that Schumann symphony. I didn't play it quite at 144 at the audition but I did play it fairly fast. After getting through the first section I was asked to stop told that the notes were great the rests were not so great. So I tried it again, and it went better in terms of the rests. It's nice to have that out of the way though now!

Tomorrow morning I'm doing a short fiddle set (30 minutes) at the International children's Festival that's in town right now and another one on Saturday. On top of that I have four dance concerts, so it's going to be a busy next few days.

It's nice to be back to a more regular practice routine now. I'm excited about getting back to work on my usual repertoire and the usual grind! I want to get that cadenza finished and some more work done on that vocal work I started before it got so busy.

I'm starting a German course this fall, which I am excited about. It will be a good thing for me I think, and a good language to learn. It will help a lot if I'm ever in Europe and it will be fun to try it out with some of my German speaking relatives and friends.

Anyways! back to all the stuff.

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May 21, 2004 11:05

Schumann is starting to drive me a little bonkers. There is just so much stuff to cover and to get it up to speed isn't proving to be that easy of a task. Slowly, but surely I'm notching up the metronome. Everytime I come back to the piece to work on it, starting it a little bit below where I left off in the last practice session and trying to notch it up more. I have discovered that I have to be really careful when practicing that excerpt because I tend to tense up a bit and then make my arm really sore. I did that one day and I am now being really concious of what state my bow arm is in. I rarely have tension problems, but I guess just the stress of trying to get it up to speed and knowing it has to be up to speed by Tuesday is making my arm tense up.

I had a violin and a piano lesson yesterday. Both went well overall. It felt so good to sit down at a grand piano for over an hour and play again. We worked on my Beethoven sonata, No. 15 also known as the "Pastorale". I belive it is said to be Beethoven's favorite of his piano sonatas and that he was more then happy to play it for anyone who would listen. It is a beautiful sonata. I love the octaves with the inner voice accompaniment while the main line is on the outside. It's incrediably hard to voice, but when well voiced it's quite an amazing passage! The second movement is to die for in it's beauty as well. The last two movements I haven't tackled yet, but hopefully sooner or later that will be remedied.

My violin lesson was mostly focused on my audition repertoire. Which was good. My teacher I think could tell I was getting a little frustrated with myself and seemed to know the kind of lesson I needed yesterday. On top of working through the audition stuff, we went over some fiddle tunes for the International Children's Festival that we are doing two short concerts during the 4 day event. It should be fun! The pieces are pretty much sight-readable and there's going to be a highland dancer for at least one or two of the pieces.

YAY! A fun but exhausting couple of days I look forward to each year, have just been confirmed that they are happening again this year. A summer Pops orchestra concert. The repertoire isn't the most exciting all the time, though there have been some really fun pieces, but getting to play with 130 other people from all over is always great fun and I get to see a couple of my friends who I don't get to see often. The last couple of years I've had some friends and family come down from out of town for the concert, which is really nice, and it's just a fun couple of days! We rehearse right by the lake in the down-town core of the city, so break time is usually spent outside walking along the boardwalk, and getting some fresh air.

I think I hear Schumann mocking me from my music stand...maybe I should go and show him a thing or two.

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May 17, 2004 13:19

Finally my history exam is over! YAY! I really did not enjoy that exam much. The trivia stuff I think went quite well and I was pretty pleased with that overall (we'll see if the marks reflect that), I actually laughed out loud on one question because it was a really strange question to be asked and I knew the answer. For composition outlines, plots, and musical styles I had the choice of outlining Westside Story, Madama Butterfly or Carmen. I went for Carmen. For composers compositional styles and contributions I had to do two from Debussy, Stravinksy, and Louie. I went for Stravinksy and Louie. For complete biography, education, musical stlyes, contributions, and compositions I could pick from Chopin or Haydn. With a complete brain freeze on both, I chose Haydn. I can tell you what years and what Bach did in Eisenach, Orhdruf, Arnstadt, Mulhausen (and Maria), Weimer, Cothen and Leipzeg, but do you think I could remeber what year Haydn or Chopin died? No. Oh well. I did remember a few things, despite my brain freeze about what Haydn's father did, that he recieved an honourary doctorate from Oxford, and a few other little key things. I'm going to guess I'll get about 2 out of 10 though on that part of the exam. We'll find out soon enough though I suppose, 6-8 weeks until I get my results in the mail and probably within about 4-6 weeks I can get the mark on the internet. But it's done! YAY! Now it's onto history 4 and harmony 4 for the December session.

Practicing for my audition is coming along alright. I'm still a fair wase under tempo on the Schumann symphony, but I have 1 week, so hopefully I'll have it down by then. Luckily it's not a huge amount of audition stuff, just four symphonies. With a week and a half total to learn everything it's definetly enough though. I hope I can get in but time will tell! It would be nice to have a "job" to go to all next concert season if possible.

Not too much is new and exciting. I ordered a bunch of strings on Saturday after breaking a string and putting on a few new strings since my d and g were starting to lose a great deal of their sound quality. Sadly, when I went to pick up my violin and tighten up my bow to practice *SNAP* the mechanism inside the bow stripped all the little grooves, so now my bow is just a pile of floppy hair and wood. Good thing I have another bow. It's taking a bit of getting used to how it reacts to the strings though, and how it bounces in things like my Paganini and in faster sections with awkward string crossings for how it handles on the strings. So hopefully I'll be able to get the screw and eye replaced in my usual bow soon, or will be able to grow accustomed to my beloved old bow which I am now using. There isn't a whole lot of difference, sound wise between the two, just my usual bow was a little heavier and I found controlled better on this violin then my other bow did. Ah the joys of playing a stringed instrument!

Back to the practice room now.

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May 13, 2004 19:12

Tomorrow is the day I write my three hour music history exam. Am I ready? I guess we'll find out. I had a piano/history lesson today to go over everything, and for the most part I'll be ok, but I do have some worries..... It was a good lesson overall though. I got to play the piano, which is something I haven't gotten to do in a couple of months because of the preparation for this exam. I haven't had time to practice much piano lately either, but this past week I decided to make time for it. It meant practicing a bit less violin overall, but it was really nice to sit down and play piano again. I didn't realise just how much I miss it. To read through the Pastorale Sonata (Beethoven) again was a great joy. I worked on some sections of it and got the first movement, more or less, all spiffed up again for my lesson. After this history exam is over I'm hoping to spend that time I did studying history at the piano instead and getting the sonata back to where it used to be before all this exam stuff overwhelmed me. I also want to get working on Greig's Wedding Day at Troldhaugen again. I had started some preliminary work on it before becoming pre-occupied. In the past few days I went through some Chopin piano albums and found the Bereceuse and decided I couldn't overlook it, so I've been working on that a bit too, maybe I'll add it to my regular repertoire after this exam is over.

Violin. Well I've got symphony auditions coming up. Luckily not catastrophic amounts of excerpts are required, but enough are required, that the two weeks I've been given to learn them is going to be challenge. Hopefully the fact that I've played with the orchestra already for a few months and have played in a regional youth orchestra for three years as well as other professional and festival orchestras will slate me a spot in the back of the second violin section again for next season. I haven't 100% decided what I want to do next year in terms of orchestra involvement, but I'm trying to work it out so I can balance at least some school and then if I do get into the symphony again that I might be able to play, but we'll see! A season playing with a professional orchestra does look good on a university application and is great for applying for other things as well so time, and some discussion with my parents and school advisor will help me get this next concert season sorted out.

I went to the orthodontist today, and I got a gift certificate towards a cd for keeping my teeth so clean. The cd store it was for has basicly nothing when it comes to a classical collection, but I special ordered in the complete Ysaye sonatas played by Ilya Kaler. I've heard a few cuts from it on the radio and I really like it, so since I am in need of a recording of those sonatas and I'm learning one of them, it's about time to add a recording of them to my collection!

Well nothing else much new around here. Just practicing, dancing, composing, studying, the usual! I should probably get back to practicing again....

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May 9, 2004 09:34

And the challenge is!

To prepare for symphony auditions in two weeks (still waiting for music..) and then have the Lark Ascending (which I've had a grand total of one lesson on so far, and have been playing for about a week or so now) ready for a concert in June. Get through my 3 hour history exam on Friday and manage to somewhere in there cram in three or four dance concerts and a possible trip out of town for a few days. Hmm.....
Somehow I think I have my work cut out for me. Orchestra auditions should be interesting. I've played with this orchestra since January as a mentor student but have to audition for the 2004-05 season. Whether or not I'll return to playing with the orchestra, even if I am re-accpeted, I am not yet sure. I've been tossing around the idea of really focusing on my solo repertoire and getting my theory requirements down for my ARCT. The history exam I am writing on Friday is one of many still to come to help me in my pursuit of this music diploma. I'm not wild at all about the history part for some of the memorisation things, but I am really enjoying all the harmony and simple anaylsis stuff. I guess maybe that comes from my strong interest and enjoyment in composing.

Lark Ascending is going pretty good so far. As you can tell from my other blog postings, I am a big fan of the piece and have a huge passion for the work. The biggest challenge for me, in this piece is going to be rythmicaly. The section I see the most difficulty being is probably where you have all the groups of 8 and then, suprise(!) there is a group of 7. That will throw a persons sense of rythm off a bit. Oh well. I think I'm up for the challenge of learning it quickly and in time for a performance and my teacher seems to really like what I've done with the piece so far. I've been really focused on trying to get my vibrato better and my teacher said that it really shows in this piece.

Speaking of my interest in composition before. I've decided after working on the Mozart concerto more and more, that I'm really not satisfied with the cadenza in the first movement at all, so I have taken it upon myself to write my own cadenza! Cadenza: An extended virtuosic section for the soloist usually near the end of a movement of a concerto I just wasn't getting that from the Joachim cadenza. It's a nice cadenza, but it just doesn't have much soloistic display and when the rest of the concerto is relatively simple in style technical interest I think a cadenza that has a little more flash and show off time then the Joachim one is an ok thing and hopefully Mozart would have liked it. Whether or not I ever perform this concerto and perform it with my own cadenza is yet to be seen, but at least it's been fun writing it so far!

My two Kreutzer etudes this week are 26 and 29. I actually quite enjoy Kreutzer etudes. They aren't Bach, for sure, but after working on them I can notice improvements, if just tiny, it's still an improvement and that's all the motivation I need. There is just something about striving to sound better and learn to communicate the music better that, even when things aren't going so well, seems to make
me always want to work harder. I have off days, to be sure, but it's having those kind of days once in awhile that makes me appreciate the work and effort I've put into music and then wanting to work harder again once I've gotten through those periods of doubt and realise just how much I would miss it, would I ever have the ability to play taken away from me. (is this making any sense to anyone?)

I'm thankful for music and the opportunity I've been given to learn an instrument. I hope that the teachers and parents out there who get frustrated with us over and over again give themself the credit they deserve for putting up with us and sharing something so wonderful with us.

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May 5, 2004 10:27

Lark Ascending. I'm loving it more and more everytime I work on it. In the past few weeks it seems I'm hearing it everywhere. I've hear Gwen Hoebig and Hugh Bean playing it on the radio. My violin teacher lent me a recording of the London Chamber Orchestra playing it with Christopher Warren Green. I've heard Calvin Dyck playing it and a friend recently sent me a recording of Nigel Kennedy (or is it Kennedy?) playing it. I've always really liked Gwen's recording of the piece, she uses the "sensa misura" and "sur la touche" passages with such great taste and flare. She never rushes anything, which I personally, think is a detail that is often overlooked. Her recording really creates that feeling of a soaring bird in the sky and makes it feel like you are ascending with the bird, you become a part of the piece, not just someone listening to it. I really liked things about the Hugh Bean recording. It is also an excellent recording that I thouroughly enjoyed and liked a lot about. Same with the LCO with Christopher Warren Green. Again lots of really great ideas and musical things. I immensly enjoyed the recording. None of those recordings has yet done it for me, quite like Gwen Hoebig's though.

A couple of really neat pieces that I've become more then fascinated with in the past while have been two contemporary works. "Fall Into Light" by R. Murray Schafer and "Lamentate" by Arvo Part. The Schafer piece uses 7 choirs, 8 conductors, 6 percussionists, and Toronto's Atrium where all the choirs are situated in a circle around the perimeter of the building so that the audience has this surround sound effect happening. I would have loved to have been there for a live performance of it, but even after hearing it twice on the radio I am still blown away by the sheer magnitude and brilliance of this work. I hope it is re-broadcast or performed again sometime when I might be able to go and hear it done live. "Lamentate" is a very different work. It uses an orchestra and solo piano. Part's simplistic melodies, and how he layers and choses to write/orchestrate them has always blown me away. It's amazing how something as simple as a scale (Spiegel im Spiegel) can take the listener to another place and absorb them so much. The Lamentate, I've been lcuy to hear broadcast a few times on the radio and everytime I hear it, I find something new and amazing in the piece that I didn't hear before. I'd love to be able to sit in a dark room and listen to the whole work sometime and just see what I could absorb from the work when my mind is focused solely on the music and the sounds and textures going on around me.

Music is an amazing thing and it's so neat to see how different people chose to utilize what they have to work with and what kinds of sounds, textures, colors and ideas they come up with.

It's been a few really busy days for me again. Practicing like crazy. Studying for a music history exam. (why do I need to be able to outline the entire of Beethoven's 5th symphony and remember all the modulations and forms and tempos and orchestrations in any given part?)There is so much stuff to cover. I pretty much have all of my terms down, Bach, and Mozart's biographys memorised (that leaves, Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, Debussy, Stravinsky, Berlioz, Louie and someone else I'm forgetting I'm sure....) and the outlines to memorise.

Bach 1685-1750

Born in Eisenhach, Germany
Orphaned at age 10, and raised by older brother in Orhdruf.
Was an organist in Arnstadt.
Was also an organist in Mulhausen, where he also married his cousin Maria Barbara.
Moved to Weimer where was still an organist, but his fame started to grow more as an organ virtuoso. He served as organist and chamber musician to the duke of Weimer.
Moved to Cothen where in 1721, Maria Barbara died, and he re-married, Anna Magdelena. He was also appointed a position by the prince, Anahlt-Cothen to play chamber music. Some of his major compositional outputs in that period included solo works for various instruments, and the Brandenburg concerti.
In 1723 Bach was appointed the cantor of St. Thomas church in Leipzeg. in 1729 he was also appointed as the director of Collegium Musicum.
He died in 1750 in Leipzeg.

Ok, so that's Bach condensed, and without going into his musical contributions.

So now if I can just absorb that about everyone else.....hmm....I've got one week to do it. Anyone think I can manage?

Well I will get back to actually studying and practicing now. I'm trying to get Berlioz, and Stravinsky down today if at all possible.

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May 2, 2004 08:52

I feel great! I've been keeping up a good routine in the past week that includes a minimum of 90 minutes of technique work each day. I was kind of slacking in that department before, but thanks to the encouragement of a couple of teachers and setting myself a game plan for it all, it's actually beggining to be really enjoyable and I'm absolutely thrilled by it! I feel like I have a whole new sense of freedom in my playing, and the pieces seem to be easier. Not easy by any means, but some of the more technical things are much easier now.

Last night I was going to go and practice technique and then dig out my Mozart concerto, but after doing some technique, warm up, I decided I was in a Bach mood. I'd normally try to not play for more then 30 minutes or so without a break, but once I got into my new Bach piece I couldn't leave it. Nearly an hour went by before I had to make myself quit.

After quitting from practicing I had to organise some stuff in my room so I could actually find my bed, and go to bed. It was kind of fun leafing through a whole bunch of my manuscripts I hadn't looked through in a while that I had piled on by bed at the beginning of the day. I had cleaned out a wooden fruit crate and got all of my music all organised in it, so that my floor didn't have to be buried in my music, and so I wouldn't have the problem of finding my music stuffed inside piano and guitar music books.

When I was cleaning out my music bin and getting it all organised I put the radio on, and listened to a couple of my favorite Saturday radio shows. I was excited to hear, on the reviews recordings, a recording by the vocal group Anonymous 4. I quite liked it!! I had heard some of their stuff quite a long time ago, and it was really neat to hear some more of it again. After that recording was reviewed another one came on featuring Canadian performers. I'm a little confused about the composer though. I'm sure they said it was by Susie Napper but she plays cello and viola da gamba, and the viola da gamba was in the work. So I can't tell you who wrote the piece, but it was a really short work called The Rite of Spring and it most definetly was not by Stravinsky. I'm waiting for the CBC to post the show details and then I can get the official information.

And one last tidbit of fun information! I found a text for my vocal piece and now have the work well underway. I've decided on a text by Heinrich Heine. It's a great text and I'll leave off with it now!

Death is the cool night. Life is the sultry day. It now grows dark; I'm drowsy, The day has wearied me. Above my bed rises a tree, The young nightingale sings there, it seems; She sings of naught but love - I hear it even in my dreams. - Heinrich Heine

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