April 2007

Going Gutless

April 25, 2007 21:59

My experiment using wound guts failed after a few months of valiant effort. I was unable to produce a ringing tone like I could on Dominants. The increased tension caused my G string to continuously slip out of tune. Re-tuning halfway through orchestra practice, home practice, ensembles, and lessons started to become such a distraction that my intonation ended up taking a turn for the worse. My vibrato that was under development would not advance at all.

Back to Dominants. After 3 days, intonation is back to my pre-gut days, the vibrato took a huge advancing leap. The ring is back. Live and learn! Maybe I will try some un-wound guts next year to see if the experience is any different.

Our orchestra's concert is coming up (May 18th). We have quite a concert coming up: www.hillsborosymphony.org/ currentflyer.pdf

Die Moldau is coming along quite nicely! After the few weeks or so of having my left hand fall to pieces on the 7th page of continuous 16th note runs, I have built up my stamina (so has th erest of the viola secion, 2nd violins and cellos) to be able to go from start to end without faltering. Moldau is NOT dead! We are playing a Corelli piece in a very baroque style. Rather than the entire string section going out and purchasing baroque bows, we are holding the bows higher up on the stick. What an amazing difference it makes in the sound!!! All in all, I'm very excited about this next concert. We've been having a photographer take pictures before, during and after our concerts which are now being posted on our website:
http://www.hillsborosymphony.org/gallery.html

Lessons are still going great! After only a few months of taking lessons with my current teacher, I have learned so much and my technique is improving at a phenominal pace - or at least it seems that way to me. I have one more page to learn on the Bruch Romanze, then this summer I'll be moving on to Hoffmeister Viola Concerto in D Major. A different set of challenges in this piece. With summer break coming for the orchestra, I will be able to put some more time into pieces for myself and the trio group.

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Humor in Orchestra Rehearsal

April 2, 2007 23:15

It must have been a hold-over from April fools day, but tonight's orchestra rehearsal was funny with musical practical jokes. Our principal violist (aka "mom") wasn't at rehearsal tonight to keep us in-line. It started with our "principal for the night" (who is also an engineer) trying to get me to sit the principal seat, which he would normally do as 2nd. I managed to wiggle out of that responsibility by arguing that I was a better page turner than he was. When we played Wagner, our conductor asked for the two of us to play the English Horn part. I did NOT play the first round of the english horn part with him as a bit of retribution for trying to put me in the principal chair... giving him several measures of an un-expected solo. He later re-named the composer Luigini to "Linguini". We then degraded to playing most of the Ballet Egyption No. 3 entirely on the G string and later on the A string with the first finger only (it has that soppy romantic melody). I must say that it was more entertaining than Yost shifting exercises and I got to practice vibrato with my first finger alot during those measures :) Luckily our conductor has a great sense of humor and allowed us our few measures of fun. She instructed the rest of the strings to sound as "sickenly romantic as the viola section".

Our conductor is thinking of holding off performing Moldau until the fall concert to give us more time to practice it (7 pieces to learn in 6 weeks). I overheard our concertmistress talking with the conductor about Moldau when the conductor said "just be glad you aren't a violist! You ought to see what they are trying to play!" Such encouragement!!!

We have 2 new violists in our section - one who got her degree in viola performance (now working at the VA hospital), and a current PSU student (majoring in Math). So far, our conductor likes having us where the celli normally sit. It is nice being able to hear my fellow violists (and amature comics) over the celli, winds and brass. Who would have thought that 6 violists could play in tune not only with each other, but also with the rest of the orchestra!

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