December 2005

Another entry from Natasha, crazed violinist

December 29, 2005 12:03

Everyone thinks the player owns the violin. I have decided that this is not true; the violin owns the musician. In fact, the musician is practically the violin's slave; the musician massages/polishes it, feeds its bow rosin, wraps it up for journeys, humidifies it, buys gadgets to go with there much a violinist wouldn't do for his/her instrument?
There's my philosophical thought of the day.

I'm trying out a new practice technique. Being half Italian and part Irish, I have somehow managed to inherit both Italian and Irish tempers. This is abd when I practice, because I lose concentration and only end up getting mad and frustrated with myself. In the past, I practice however many hours I want in hour-long chunks, so I don't get too tired and my short attention span is kept sharp. Now, I continue to practice in apprx.-hour-long chunks, but when I near fifty minutes, I practice one section over and over and over until I'm happy with it. Then I walk away. Just walk away, leave the violin in the open case, put away my music...and come back and practice later. This way, I end feeling happy rather than depressed and feeling un-improved. We'll see how this goes.

My chair challenge is exactly ten days away, not counting today. I feel prepared-enough, but I'm lacking my usual confidence. I suspect this is because I couldn't practice my music as much, and I'm not as ready as I was last year, even though I think I'm playing better than last year. Hm.

I go home in a week (YEAH!). I don't mind short visits, but three weeks is a little too long for my taste. That gives me three days vacation at home before school starts up again. *sigh* How droll.

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Why do I want to be a professional again...?

December 28, 2005 15:41

I registered for a competition months ago.
They never sent me any infor i.e. location, date, number of know...some minor details (note heavy sarcasm). Well two days ago, I received an email containing all this information. The date is January 28th. Piece must be memorized and in perfect condition.
In a state of semi-panic, I called Mr. Neal on his cell (thereby disturbing his peaceful vacation in Houston) and he said he thought it would still be a good experience and I should go for it. So it's total crunch time. I've psyched myself into the realization that I probably won't make the finals, and accepted it calmly.

On other news, Mr. Gao emailed all of the string ensemble members and told us to practice practice practice because we will have something like four concerts this month and possibly a recording session. Our first concert is on January 15th.

Then of course, I have a chair challenge on January 8th. And highschool fits in...where? So much for my "Christmas Break"...I'll be practicing the whole bleepin' time. My poor aunt and uncle (who are boarding me right now whilst I visit) are probably sick to death of my music. Well too bad for them.

I'll catch you all later!

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Trauma Christmas and a Review

December 27, 2005 12:25

I'm back.
If any of you are interested in my trauma Christmas, I suggest you read my entry at I don't feel like re-typing it all out. And yes, I am lazy.

I got two Joshua Bell CDs for Christmas. Following is a review of his Sibelius Goldmark CD.

Of all Joshua Bell's CD's the Sibelius and Golmark Violin Concerto recording was the only one I have ever been displeased with.
The CD opens with one of my most favorite pieces of music ever; Jean Sibelius' Concerto for Violin. While there are several concerti that are considered a "rite of passage", such as the Tchaikovsky and the Brahms, the Sibelius is one of those that are reserved for only the highest of violin masters. This deadly work of art calls not only for superb technical abilities, but also a high caliber musician to be pulled off. Joshua Bell possesses both of these traits, but there are several major issues with his performance of the Sibelius. First of all, the tempo in the first and third movements is very slow. Joshua often takes ritards where it feels as if an accelerando would not be out of place, and in general, both of these movements drag precariously. As always, Joshua's crystalline tone adds an unearthly charm and quality to the Sibelius, but at times, his warm vibrato seems too loving for the almost-harsh sound of this Finnish concerto. He lacks the "cold steel" sound achieved by Hilary Hahn and more especially Jascha Heifetz, that gives the Sibelius its characteristic dark and chilling quality. My biggest disappointment came at the big finale at the end of the third movement. The tempo was very slow. There was no power behind the music, no accelerando, not even a good solid forte (or preferrably fortissimo) to bring the concerto to its dramatic close. Joshua Bell then ends the final run up the E string with a flighty sounding harmonic. If a harmonc is to be used as the conclusion to so mighty a concerto, it needs more "meat" to achieve a suficiently hefty ending. Over all, the Sibelius concerto on this CD was a great disappointment.
Having never heard the following concerto before, and still wallowing in my horror of the Sibelius, I was pleasantly relieved to hear Joshua Bell's charming rendition of the Goldmark Concerto. Although Joshua's gentle, romantic style is out of place in the sinister Sibelius, it is more than welcome in this moving concerto. This piece is, surprisingly, written by the teacher and mentor of Jean Sibelius, Goldmark. I say surprisingly because the two concerti are in sharp contrast to one another; the Sibelius has a dark brooding mood whilst the Goldmark has a sweet and sometimes melancholy temperment. Joshua Bell does this lovely piece justice.
I wouldn't reccomend this CD unless the Sibelius was cut out. If anyone wishes to hear a proper version of this wonderful violin concerto, I would point them in the direction of Jascha Heifetz's recording on his album "The Supreme". If one is looking for the Goldmark, however, this is the album they would want.

Apologies for any typos.

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Off to AZ

December 19, 2005 12:20

In one hour and fifty minutes I will be heading to Arizona for Christmas.
Ergo, i probably won't be posting as much.

I found out how much of a music geek I truly am the other day; Dad popped in a CD of the Kreutzer Sonata (we have quite a few recordings of it) and after the first note (literally), I stuck my head out and yelled "KREISLER!" Dad was shocked (I was right, of course).

My aunt and uncle sent me a dictionary of musical terms for Christmas. Has anyone else read a dictionary for a solid hour? I just did. What an Orch Dork I am.

Of course, mio piccolino bambina farfalla principessa...a.k.a violinus coming along for the airplane ride. It's all wrapped up in cloths and sponges to prevent breakage (my greatest fear). My teacher and I always get stopped for our violins to be examined by officials. Mr. Neal says the security guards always hassle him, but the ones I've encountered (whilest they do always strip search my case) are always nice. Maybe a seemingly-eighteen-year-old, innocent-looking girl, batting her heavily mascara-ed eyelashes up at them softens their hearts (everyone who knows me and is reading this is now laughing).

So anyways, I'm all packed and ready to go.

Sydney, I have NOT forgotten a/b you. Lots of crazy happenings (will inform you later) so I'll write you asap, ok?

(I felt like being politically-incorrect)

3 replies | Archive link

December 17, 2005 09:59

I finished finals!!!! Everyone rejoice and be glad!
*queue the Alleluia from Handel's Messiah*

Now since I've finished, I can read my new book, A Canticle for Leibowitz. It's quite good so far; a science fiction satire on the Dark Ages. In the novel, the world we know today has been obliterated, leaving in its place ignorance, destruction and fear. And that's as far as I've gotten, because then Mom hid the book so I would finish all my tests (and have something to read when we leave for Arizona on Monday).
Mom and the bros went to their violin group lessons and then decided to go to the Peliskas (as Mom's going out to lunch with Mrs. Peliska...something I wasn't informed of until she called me from the cell and told me she was on her way.)

Now I'm not sure what to do with myself. I thought I had string ensemble and violin lessons today, but I was confused; it's actually tomorrow. I should practice; my teacher gave me a new piece that I'm anxious to learn, but I think I'll just relax today and maybe practice later.
And I should probably get out of my pajamas...(yes, I took my religion final wearing my glasses and pjs...I'm so bad.)

Oh, Sydney, I subscribed to your xanga. Anyone else have a xanga? I'll come and post on it for you. :-) Lol. I have to go work the Kreutzer now...

3 replies | Archive link

December 15, 2005 18:51

My other blog.
I just finished a Latin exam and I am *bushed*. I think I did well though.
Hmmmm, so much has happened today.
I don't really feel like re-typing, so if y'all just want to read my xanga blog, that would be grand.
I need some rest.

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Thus begins Stress Week, a.k.a. Finals

December 12, 2005 05:48

Last night was wonderful! Orchestra didn't go so well, considering our illustrious concertmaster hadn't practiced the solos for the Capriccio Espagnol, and Sam wasn't there to totally show him up with the clarinet solos, and no one practiced, and I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of Tatiana's godparents-to-be the whole time...but the Baptism was cool, and then I got to hang around with Sam and Taylor at their house. I'm a table-soccer retard. But it was lovely being able to see Sam again. I hadn't seen him since the surgery.
Well, today is the beginning of finals week, so I'm going to go study. Wish me luck all!

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December 10, 2005 15:13

I was GOING to practice, but I ain't feeling so hot right now. I think the super-spicy chili sauce that Dr. Calvo brought didn't agree with me. And who wants to practice when their stomach's unsettled?

I'm hoping it's nothing else...I have a BIG day tomorrow; class in the morning, orchestra in the afternoon, and my sister's Baptism directly after that, and a reception after THAT. BUt it seems as if I always get sick on the weekends. Gr!

On other news, I finished Mom's rosary and sewed a silk pouch for it (complete with beading on the side). It all looks really pretty!
And I cleaned my room. The ol' g-parents are coming in tomorrow.
Grandparents coming = Natasha moves out of bedroom and lives on inflatable matress in the laundry room. Yeah.

Mmmm, I'm getting cold chills. I think I'll move to a warmer environment, i.e. my bedroom and chill out there with some of Orff's Carmina Burana. Oh yeah, baby.

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I feel obligated to type here

December 10, 2005 06:06

My friend's back home from the hospital.
I am now back to normal...almost.
I practiced a good two hours yesterday.
And my Mom's present came in the mail: I got the beads to wire her a rosary.
I'm a jewelry maker/lover.
Austrian crystals are just...
I wear a strand when I play violin; they catch the light SO beautifully, and show up on tape...even the people in the back row of the Naples Philharmonic Concert Hall can see them glisten.
So I bought a good chunk of those for her rosary.
I'm going to go work on that...and clean my room.

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Freaky Thursday

December 9, 2005 06:03

Oh my. Yesterday was a nightmare.
It started out as rather awful; school, you know.
Then, at the university, my friend Karen walks up to me.
"Did you know Sam's in the hospital?"
Well, I pretty much had a heart attack then and there.
I mean, Sam is my best friend.
The words "Car accident" flashed through my mind.
All Karen knew was that something happened to his appendix and he had gone to the hospital at three in the morning.
At home, my Mom tried to call to find out what was going on, but they weren't answering their cell.
So Mom left to take my bros to their violin lessons, and I worried my butt off and composed some stuff on the piano (my finest, if I do say so myself).
When Sam's mom *finally* called, he was just pulling out of the anesthesia...he had gone into surgery at six that morning.
Then I had to babysit, so I didn't hear how he was until I got home; he was okay...comes home today.
But I'll tell you, I was quite flipped out for a while there.
So today should be relatively easy compared...
But next week are finals, so it's starting to look ugly...

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December 7, 2005 14:48

Well we got a phone call today from our credit card company.
Some kid in South America got ahold of our credit card number and just bought a cable tv something-or-other.
Doesn't he KNOW that if you USE a credit card people will TRACE you?

Our refrigerator broke too. This rockin' cool German repair-dude is defrosting it. We had a white Christmas of snow behind all the frozen peas and carrots.
Who knew?

Practicing sucked today.
I still have another hour to go, but I needed to take an emotional break.
Since I don't have any competitions within thirty days, I'm down to 2 hours a day.
In about I week that will be increased one hour as our string ensemble is recording a CD, and I have a chair challenge.
I'm praying I move up one seat at least.
But Beethoven is nasty.
Nasty icky stuff to learn, but so wicked cool to play.

I finished my rough draft for my persuasive essay today and my outline for my character sketch for Lit. class.
Oh joy of JOYS.
*exasperated sigh*
Can't they see I'm a VIOLINIST?

Oh well. I think I'll go flick on the TV.
Oh wait.
German repair dude's defroster is too loud.
Will have to wait until parents leave.
*evil cackle*

I only got five hours of sleep people...bear with me (maybe it had something to do with eating a bowl of melted chocolate chips and mandarin oranges at 9:30 last night...)

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December 6, 2005 14:42

Merry Christmas from Florida!


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Follow up: William Noll

December 6, 2005 06:02

I guess in my excitement, I forgot to mention who this guy was.

Conductor William Noll is one of the leading conductors at this time. Debuting in a sell-out concert in Beijing, Noll has conducted many of the most prominent orchestras in the world, giving concerts throughout the U.S., China, and Italy. Noll held prominent positions in Atlanta, Georgia, with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Opera, and the Choral Guild of Atlanta. Established in Europe as a prominent conductor, Noll's preformances at Brevard and Carnegie in the U.S. have left an imprint on American culture.

Noll is also an accomplished pianist, debuting in New York just recently with the Jupiter Orchestra. Noll has collaberated with such musical giants as James Levine and Robert Shaw, among others. With many jazz and classical recordings to his credit, Noll has also appeared on TV and radio.


So that's why I'm psyched. I also forgot to mention that he just added over 5000 sq. ft. to his house down here. His little addition is three times the size of our house. And this guy wants to meet me.
I'm still stunned.

Also, this festival will be done at the Ave Maria University. We're going to try and get on with the Mozart Clarinet Quintet. It's in honor of Mozart's 250th.

Wow, this is so wicked. I can't wait!

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He wants to meet...ME?

December 5, 2005 19:11

The day began like any other day, exept the date had changed.
How lame is that for a beginning? ;-)

Okay, so I was eating lunch with Sam when Mrs. Bell, secratery for the provost of the university comes over.
Had either of us heard of William Noll? The conductor.
I had heard the name, I knew he was big, so I was like, yeah, sure.
Then, I got the shock of my life:
"William Noll would like to meet you two in person."
Apparently, between the provost and Mrs. Bell (who had Mr. Noll at her house for dinner last night), talking about our performances around here, Mr. Noll got the idea that he should invite us to his mansion in the next few weeks to chat.
Not only that, but we might be part of the $25 000 arts festival Mozart fest this Feb.
Playing the Mozart Clarinet Quintet!
Talk about food for thought...

2 replies | Archive link

Nadja S-S Concert Review

December 4, 2005 18:25

There are two types of professional violinists; those who sound good and have nice stage prescence, and those who sound good and have no stage prescence whatsoever.
Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg falls into the latter category.
Said to be at the "height of her powers", Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg began studying the violin at a young age, in her hometown of Rome. She emigrated to the U.S. at the age of eight, to study under Dorothy Delay at Julliard. Recently, she started her own record label (NSS), and has recorded over 20 cds. The winner of numerous prizes and accomplishments, Nadja is considered one of the leading violinists world-wide.
Yes, her tone is remarkable, her passion for music very well portrayed in her playing, all wrapped up with impeccable technique, including a to-die-for vibrato. But the fact remains that her stage presence is nearly offensive.
My first impression as she walked out on stage was "Lose the outfit". Attired in an un-flattering tight-knit top and tan pants, her close-cropped hair pulled into a tight ponytail, I was immediately taken aback by the casualness of her attitude. As one who has performed with an orchestra, I feel it a great honor to be a soloist, and dress and act with a sort of respect. As Nadja's playing of the Bruch progressed, she portrayed to me a flippance that really bothered me. Every time she took her violin down from her chin, she held it in a careless fashion, as if it were no more than a ten-cent toy, pausing occasionally to glance down her bow as one would an arrow, to see if it is "true". While playing, I was startled by the masculinity of her stance; Nadja stood as if astride a large horse, her legs spread wide, giving me an impulse to shout "Giddy up!". When she was not in this unbecoming position, she was curled up in a fetal position, her right foot stuck in front of her. At one point, she nearly lost her balance, having to cross her legs in order to keep from toppling over. Although one may see this behavior as showing her emotions, it seems to me that if one channels her spirit into the music rather than the bodily movement, the music will be more passionate and moving.
If one closes their eyes, however, he will find himself quite enchanted by her playing. As afore stated, her beautiful wrist vibrato is a gem amongst the hum-drum arm vibratos that normally deck the concert halls, so to speak. Albeit, she over used it once or twice on the Bruch, but it lifted her encore piece, the Rachmaninoff Vocalise, to an entirely new level. In all other musical aspects, she is rock-solid and a pleasure to listen to.
I hold nothing against Nadja, or her playing, but seek to provide my thoughts during her performance last evening. Although gifted musically, a few lessons in a more elegant and feminine appearance would make this violinist one of the great master of the concert halls.

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Fridays and Nadja S-S Concert Prelude

December 2, 2005 16:53

What a lovely day.
I got up and it was chilly out (like, in the forties...that's cool in Florida), so I wrapped up in my bathrobe and socks, wishing for a cup of steamy cocoa.
But alas! No cocoa. Just school.
Brightened by lunch with my friends Sam and Taylor and my bro, Luciano. Who behaved (it's amazing what a bribery of Skittles and 33 cent cookies will do to a five year old).
So tomorrow, Mom's driving me and Sam and Marcello (other brother), to the Nadja concert tomorrow. Man, I am so lucky! Four free tickets to her concert! So my Dad, my bro, and my friend and I can all go together, and get really good seats too. It should be a really fun evening.
I love going to the Phil; not just the music (although that is, of course, the best part), but there's just something about the aura at a concert hall. That environment is DEFINATELY something I'd like to work in when I get a job.
But now I'm faced with my usual dilemma. The mysterious black velvet pants and shirt, or the classy grey silk skirt with the black blouse and Italian lace shawl...liberated from my mother's closet. Oh the trials of being female.

Okay, I'm off to rest and relax on my Friday night. Should've picked up a video. Darn.
Have a happy weekend all!

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Violinists are too smart... :-p

December 1, 2005 07:54

Well, you guys guessed right. People are too smart on this website...
Yes, both the pics are me. I showed them to some of my friends (after they said they knew everything about me) and they wouldn't believe me. I did not dye my hair, however (although I did get contacts and grow about two feet upwards).
Sydney found that aweful pic from when I was associate concertmaster in Illinois 3 years ago (the pic above was last May...I look happy cause I just won fifth place in a scholarship competition and my buddy won first prize.)

Well, I'm supposed to be reviewing for a history exam so tata...


That's me now. :-P Unfair how smart you guys are.
Or maybe it's just my tell-tale "widow's peak".
Thanks for humoring me by guessing.

9 replies | Archive link

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