2004 held a lot of really neat experiences and milestones for me as a musician. In January I got my first chance to play a truly professional symphony concert. With just over 24 hours to learn the music when I got it, it was a really memorable experience for me. One thing that made it really inspiring and such an honour to do is so many of the other musicians on stage I knew from various experiences in the past. Our youth symphony conductor was and still is the principal second violin, the second desk was (and still is) made up of a teacher who I've learned a lot from and been really inspired by as well as another musician who I had had the chance to previously play alongside. In the first violin section, my current violin teacher and my previous teacher were both playing, and the front desk, I've played in masterclasses for both players and played next to one of them as well. To get the chance to play with such amazing musicians truly dedicated to their art form and the people who have moulded my ability to play and make music really was a huge honour, and I still feel very blessed everytime I walk on stage with those people.
February: the above mentioned youth symphony conductor is a really special guy. He's an amazing composer, conductor and violinist, and he has more patience then any one of us in that youth orchestra deserves. But he really is a special person. Our youth orchestra is very unique in that any member of the orchestra can write a short composition for the orchestra, and our orchestra will not only read through it in rehearsals, but we will perform it during our spring tour. My first year I let the idea float around a bit, but didn't seriously do anything about writing a piece. The second season I was determined to take part in such an amazing opportunity and I wrote a short work for the strings section of the orchestra. Now, not only did I get to play this piece with the youth symphony, but I was given the chance to conduct it. Last season, 2003/04 season, was my last season with the youth symphony and I wrote my second work, for winds and strings for the youth symphony, again receiving the wonderful opportunity to conduct my own work. To make it an extra special last year with the youth symphony I also was one of three soloists, playing the Dvorak Romance. I can't think of a more special way to say goodbye to so many friends and a wonderful 3 years of making music together. My brother and I also had a neat performance this month. A local composer had written a work with us in mind, that we got to premiere at a fundraiser concert, with the composer in the audience. It was a really neat challenge to learn something never recorded and get to go and work one on one with the composer.
March: What happened in March that was exciting for me musically? Nothing terribly interesting or exciting happened, it was my month "off" to get prepared for music festival and some other things happening in April! So to April now..
April: April was an interesting month. It was my third tour with the professional symphony, and if I remember right we played Mussorgsky's Picture's at an Exhibition, the Brahms piano concerto No. 2 and then some of the principal players played Michael Dohearty's (sp?) Dead Elvis. This was a fun program. I loved playing the Mussorgsky, the building and climaxes that you get in that piece are amazing. This month also held a music festival competition in which I played a concert group (Vitali Ciaccona, Eckhardt-Gramatte Caprice No.3) and I played the opening movement of my suite for solo violin. I was the only person to enter in those categories and at my grade level, so the competition part wasn't really there, but the feedback I received from the adjudactor was really beneficial and I felt really reflected my performance that day. April also signalled a new direction in my musical studies and how I approached everything in the practice room and how I spaced things. I had a lesson with Jasper Wood, who was incrediably patient with me. I learned so much in the short time spent with him, and I know I would never, technically or musically be where I am today without that lesson. He helped me with my vibrato (which I still struggle with, but it is forever getting better!!! yay!) and probably the most impacting thing was bow placement/divison and tone. I always thought I could play loud and had a nice sound, but I never knew I could play as loud or as nice as Jasper Wood freed me up to do. He challenged me in new ways and in new heights of things to acheive on the violin and I am forever grateful and thankful for it and the time he spent with me.
May: I wrote my music history 3 exam in this month of 2004. Not a particularly fun exam, but it was a step closer to my goal of theory requirements for the year and I was happy to accomplish it and pass it. I got to play a bunch of fiddle/celtic stuff for the International Children's Festival in May. That was a lot of fun to do and a lot of fun to get to play with so many other players as well (both advanced and beginner). Sort of musically, but not exactly, May signaled the end of dancing for me. I had done some form of formal dance training for 12 years and I said goodbye to that this month. We had several dance concerts, for which I performed. It was sad to say goodbye. This month was also a little scary for me as I had my first real orchestra audition. It was a good experience though and the experience in doing something like that is incrediably valueable as is the repertoire you gain and practice in quick preparation.
June: Was a lot of fun for me! I learned Lark Ascending and performed it this month for my teacher's year end recital, as well as I accompanied my own student in a Bach Minuet that she had been determined to learn specifically for this recital. It was a good finale to the year of regular music lessons. The piece my brother and I did in February got it's second public performance this month as well, again with the composer in the audience. :)
July: Another fun, enlightening month, at the end of June rehearsals began for an annual Canada Day concert that I've participated in for the last few years. It's free admission, and we usually get about 5,000 people show up. I stayed with a friend who was playing in the orchestra, and we had a good time together. I also got to see some other good friends (and a teacher of mine from a couple years back!!) who I don't get to see very often. After a couple day's off from the Canada Day a few of my teachers students, my teacher and I performed another celtic style program for the second year running at the Highland Games competition held here. We performed in the Beer Garden's which is a rather easily pleased crowd, but it was fun! There's nothing that beats playing with other people who really enjoy playing with other people. I learned how to play viola in July and I was challenged to new heights in my chamber music abilities. I had played in a piano trio before, but never as the pianist, and I had never played viola before either. I played in the "orchestra" on viola, played first violin on Mendelsohhn's Octet (that is a HARD piece), violin was also played in the Handel/Halvorsen/my name/cellist's name Passacaglia (we did some editing to have it playable for an audience in 5 days:). The rest of the stuff I played was on viola that week. It was a lot of fun!! I played violin in a masterclass and had a private lesson with the out of town clinician who came in to teach at this "camp," and received a lot of helpful, valuable feedback and I've never in my life met someone so enthusiastic about teaching.
August: Was pretty laid back. I played at a couple of weddings and other then that took it easy with just expanding my own repertoire.
September: My favorite month! Well, maybe not, but I do love how the weather starts to change at the end of September the leaves change color and the beginning of a new season of concerts school and new experiences. I played with the symphony that I had auditioned for back in May. I guess they figured I played alright enough to keep me around! :D It was kind of an eclectic, but fun opener for the concert season. Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Roccoco Theme, with the very talented and charming cellist, Paul Marleyn , Beethoven's 5th symphony which I had never played before, and something completely "alien" to me as far as my own performance experiences had gone so far, Rautavarra's Cantus Arcticus. The birds were really loud in the the rehearsal hall which had several players (myself included) pulling out earplugs, but it was a really neat piece, and interesting to sit and listen to. (The strings don't really get to do that much in comparison to the rest of the orchestra)
October: I'd been back to teaching for a month and still enjoying it, as well as my own private music lessons. This was the month I started back at piano! Yes, I had practiced during the summer!!!! My playing at lessons and practice though were rather limited by the end of the month when I applied to do my music history 4 exam on the December 8/9 exam session. I went to Vancouver for a couple of days to meet up with a musical friend of mine and take in a concert at UBC (University of British Columbia) with Jasper Wood playing violin (I'm still trying to figure out how he still can play after that concert, it was amazing). A good friend of mine was soloist with the symphony after winning the chance to play back in the spring. She played part of the Prokofieff second violin concerto (though she could/would have done the entire thing had another player not tied with her). I was happy to not be playing that tour (due to being away) so that I could sit and listen to her. It was really just incrediably amazing to watch her play such a massive, powerful work that fit her personality and playing style so well. To end off October was a halloween recital where I made my "solo" viola debut playing Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata. My only complaint was that out of the 200+ people there at the beginning, by time they got to me, 48th on the program if I remember right, last anyways and 3 hours later, the audience was down to maybe 30, if that. It was an overly satisfying first solo performance though! My teacher even stayed through the whole concert even though, aside from the first performance, I was her only student to play.
November: I can now say that yes, I have seen Pinchas Zukerman! Another trip to Vancouver to visit relatives and the chance to observe a masterclass conducted by Pinchas Zukerman. I found it interesting to hear the playing level and hear what Zukerman had to say. I felt his comments were good overall and some really interesting things he touched on, but he never really went in depth, which I would have appreciated. You could tell who all played violin in the audience though when he started talking about vibrato, I even caught myself trying out what he was trying to explain. And yes, another symphony tour took place this month, though with a slightly different spin on it. It was JAZZ! It was a really fun program. The soloist, Dee Daniels, and her trio were really fabalous and a blast to work with and I've never gotten to yell from my seat before during a concert. That was fun. :)! As part of an attempt to get Canadian classical music out to a wider audience those of us involved in the music world hold a Canadian Music Week and have a recital to kick off the week. This year I played a Caprice by Gary Kulesha. A truly amazing Canadian composer. It received some "interesting" responses. A lot of people seemed to really like while others seem to have felt rather challenged by it.
December: My first taste of leading and playing in Suzuki groups!!!! This was fun, and different for me. I really enjoyed the experience and am really excited about starting to teach my own Suzuki group this year (starting tomorrow, Jan 5th!!). My music school where I take lessons and teach had a big Christmas recital where I helped out with the Suzuki groups for my teacher who was going to be away and accompanied the more advanced groups. I did a fiddle piece with a girl who's been one of those never ending "personal fan club" members ever since she started taking violin. She's a really sweet kid and is like your Grandmother, always loves what you do and is always there and will sit through a long concert just to hear you play. I was really excited to get to play a duet with her, I know it meaned a lot to her as well as it did to me! I also played a couple of solos, back by popular demand, the Caprice No.1 by Gary Kulesha as well as the Bach C major sonata, Largo. Both by memory, both unaccompanied, which was a fun change from playing with an accompanist, though I really do love having that extra person there to play with. Part way through the concert I was asked if I would like to play in the chamber orchestra that was playing last on the concert. (I had played with them previously but stopped playing to focus on my then upcoming piano and violin exams) I jumped at the chance! I knew most of the music, though I had played different parts for all the pieces then the part I ended up playing. It was a lot of fun to play with them again though!! I also completed my music history 4 exam this month! A personal highlight of
December was doing a mini-recital at a dinner by the organization that has sponsored me for the mentorship program that I auditioned and won the spot of in the symphony. Meeting the people who were making it possible for me to do the traveling involved and awarding me a scholarship to help aid my musical education costs was a really neat thing for me and I felt honoured to be the one there that evening and the people were all so incrediably nice and supportive.
Ok well that was 2004's musical experiences, in a nutshell!!
hope this year is better than last year!
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