May 2007

Summer Break?

May 22, 2007 20:58

Orchestra season ended the year well. Moldau was better than I could have wished. But the real stunner was Wagner's "Elsa's Processional" from Lohengrin. It stunned the audience to a few heart-beats of silence.

Thanks to all the recommendations on what to play. Here is the final list chosen by family. The Purcell piece can be a challenge if played in the fingerings reccomended (nose bleed sections on the lower strings).

Navy Hymn
RV William's Fantasy on Greensleeves
Marine's Anthem
Purcell's Aria

And for pieces for myself, I'm going to focus on Bruch Romance (page 3 & 4, Hoffmeister's Concerto, Terzetto's by Dvorak, Beethoven and Bach for my trio group, and all the requisite etudes, scale studies, vibrato studies, etc..

It is nice to have a break (musically) for awhile.

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Musical Therapy

May 15, 2007 21:56

The last week has been, well, to be politically correct, not the best in the past year (major understatement of the year). 14 hour days, non-stop analysis of reams of technical data. Over the weekend I got maybe 4 hours of sleep while I kept myself awake doing mathematical computations in my mind. So, into Monday morning I go to work after only falling asleep at about 6am (2 hours of sleep total for the night) for yet another day of data analysis (paralysis). At 6pm I rush home, grab my viola and sheet music and speed off to dress rehearsal. I'm dead on my feet. I can't think straight, yawning all the time, and generally comatose.

As is the norm, I'm one of the first on stage to help set-up. After getting the viola and cello sections set-up, I collapse on my chair for a few moments of silent relief. Over the next few minutes, the rest of the orchestra starts showing up, so I pull my viola out of his case, put the shoulder rest, tighten and rosin the bow, and grab my sheet music, tuner, pencil and zip-lock baggie of peppermints, then head back to my chair. I chit chat a bit with my section and the celli, catching up on the last week's adventures. The oboist begins his seemingly never-ending A to call us all in-line.

We tune, then the conductor goes over the playing order of the pieces, a few words of encouragement, then on we go for our dress rehearsal. The first 8 measures of the Slavonic Dances brings on a sudden surge of energy that snaps me back from being dead on my feet to being charged with energy in a few heart-beats. All of my week's worth of worry, "analysis paralysis", and contingency planning from my day job slip into the void and into nothingness as quickly as the dust on my living room floor dissapears through the central vac system.

On to the Egytian Ballet. Last week, it dawned on me that "Sul G" meant that I really needed to play all those notes on the G string, and reaching those A's was a literally painful endaevor. Tonight, I slid up and down the fingerboard like there was no limit to how high I could actually go.

Jurassic Park brought on a confidence in second position like I never had before. Funny how the even positions can throw you off. No faltering on a single note and shifting between 1st and 3rd position and everywhere in-between mid-slur without hearing the shift.

Andalucia was like a jam session with the guitar (and his amp) right next to the viola section. Finally, a small break! The little baggie of peppermints are shared with the viola and cello sections. We are happy with our little sugar pills. The MC practices his part while we all listen on. This is going to be a fun suprise (no hints!!!!)

Onto Corelli with the strings. I love this piece! It is baroque (my musical style addiction). I could play this over and over again and never get tired of it. Then...... the Moldau, my nemesis, the etude from.... (think hot molten lava and never ending torture). I make it through page 5 when finally, my fingers start giving out on me, but then regain their energy by the page 6. We end the dress rehearsal on Wagner. For the strings, this is a nice cool-down from the Moldau and the brass can shine.

I pack up, and head home. Work? Am I not a musician and not an engineer by trade? For the first time in a week, I fall asleep within minutes of getting home and sleep throughout the night without doing a single mathematical equation in my head. Tuesday morning brings a new attitude - I can manage any challenge that comes my way. I no longer view the system tests as an affront to my team's capabilities when a defect is found, but instead as a coach helping the team succeed in our goal.

Lessons learned from the day:
1 - Music is the best diversion from every-day life ever invented.
2 - Critism is something to take constructively to better yourself or your team, no matter the situation in which it is given.
3 - Sometimes exhaustion can bring out your best.

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What to Choose?!?!

May 9, 2007 23:29

After such an overwhelming response (thank you v-com!) on what music to choose, I've compiled quite a list to choose from. It ranges from incredibly easy to quite challenging and everywhere in-between.

1 - Litanty for All Soul's Day for viola and piano (Schubert)
2 - Sonata and Arpeggione for viola and piano (Schubert)
3 - Aria for viola and piano (Purcell)
4 - Ashokan Farewell
5 - Neil Gow's Laments
6 - Bovaglie's Plaid
7 - Song Without Words (Mendelsson)
8 - Casadesus "Handel" Concerto
9 - Hindemith's "Trauermusik"
10 - The Swan - Saint-Saens
11 - Arthur Bliss viola sonata
12 - Bruch's Scottish Fantasy
13 - Soliloque et Forlane for viola and piano (Reynaldo Hahn)
14 - Fantasy on Greensleves (R.V. Williams)
15 - Bach's Chanconne

My father is coming out again next week to come hear my concert. So my challenge will be to get my hands on either the recordings or sheet music for as much of this as possible to decide what to start learning next over the summer with his input. Already on the summer list is Bruch (learning how to be a romantic), Hoffmeister's Viola Concerto, plus my trio's pieces (Dvorak, Beethoven and Bach).

Tough decisions.....

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Bruch - The Final Chapter

May 7, 2007 22:46

Things are so crazy at work these days, I'm having a difficult time carving out a half-hour each day during the week to practice. In 2 weeks the orchestra will be on summer break after our final season concert, which will give me several more hours a week to practice pieces for personal pleasure. By July, the Oracle implementation will be over which will give me back a few more hours of practice time. Right now "laundry day" (Sunday) is my most productive practice time.

After almost a few months of studying the Bruch Romanze, I am on the final page. When I first started this piece at the recommendation of other violists lurking on this site, I thought - this is easy! Then came the realization "Hey, this whole section is supposed to be played on the D string! That's like 5th to 7th position!" Later, I was gently told that I'm supposed to be playing almost the entire piece with a vibrato going. What once seemed so simple at the start became a technical challenge.

I am now on the 4th and final page, having managed the higher positions on a 16" behemoth, and at producing a decent sounding vibrato on anything a quarter note or longer on the previous 3 pages (learning to produce a vibrato started on this piece!). The first two lines on the fourth page are giving me some troubles. "Why Oh Why" notate a C# and B-natural as a D-flat and C-flat? The key signature for that section only has a B-flat! This is almost as seeing a B# for the first time ever, that at inital appearances seems to be one-half of a note than the lowest note you can play on the viola, until you realize that it indeed IS the open Cing!!!! ::::sigh::::

In a month or so, Bruch will go into "maintenance mode" (aka - self study & practice) and Hoffmeister's Viola Concerto in D-Major will get some intense study. I've tried this piece on my own a few times and it seems simple enough - for now. I am assuming after the first few weeks (or less) studying this piece with my teacher I will discover similar challenges as I'm finding in Bruch.

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