December 2009

A Violist on Violin

December 22, 2009 19:18

My father got me a H2 Zoom audio recorder for Christmas.  So what does this life-time violist do with it?  I record myself on violin!

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2009 Review 2010 Preview

December 16, 2009 20:04

It's that time of year again to review my goals of 2009 and set my 2010 goals.  

This has been a difficult year for me on many different levels.  It has been a year of many losses but also one of many gains.  So while I did not achieve many of my 2009 goals, there are a few that I did achieve that stand out.  

First and foremost is memorizing Bloch's Suite Hebraique.  Not only did I memorize early in the year, but I still have it committed to memory to this day.  So much for my excuse about forgetting other details in my advancing years!

Which brings me to my other goal - performing publicly with no fear.  During the audition I had a little stage fright, when I played the Bloch at Lenten services back in March, it disappeared, for good.  I have since performed several times at my church with no re-occurrences of stage fright.  

The Bach by 40 goal.  While I didn't  achieve that goal 10 months ahead of schedule as I would had liked, I have only 4 movements remaining to learn.  Plenty of time to do that by October!

The big viola sound has not only been achieved, but is now posing a bit of a problem in ensembles (sheepish grin).  My dynamics still need a little work.  


2010 does not have a list full of technical goals, but more personal goals:

For starters, I'd like to perform the Bloch once again at my new church, which is tentatively scheduled for Good Friday.  This time around though, I want to move past the technical challenges of the piece and focus into the stylistic and musical challenges.  

Secondly, I also like to perform something at Interlochen this summer at either the participant's concert or at one of the informal larger group ensembles.  Hopefully this will be Brandenburg #6 with my new viola-buddy.  

Since 2010 will be bringing my decade long Bach goal to an end, it is time to start a new long-term goal.  With the encouragement and creativity of my friends and former teacher, the new goal is to learn a piece from composers Z to A.  Half the fun here will be just trying to find pieces written by composers for each letter of the alphabet.  

So there we have it.  A much shorter list than in years past, however these goals will draw upon all the smaller goals I achieved (or not) over the past several years.  2010 is about moving past the "me" and into what music can bring to others.  I've put a toe on this path over the past year.  It's now time to step onto it fully.

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'Tis the Season to Make Music

December 4, 2009 19:45

It is that time of year again.  Outdoor activities give way to indoor activities.  That means rehearsals, practice and concerts.  Last Sunday, I played a Bach Viola da Gamba Sonata at church (still no recurrance of stage fright!).  And due to some strange twist of fate I will NOT be playing the Messiah this year.  Instead, this Sunday I will be playing the Corelli Christmas Concerto  - twice! 

Personally, I've been branching out a bit, putting Bach to the side for the moment.  Vieuxtemps' Cappricio is my latest endeavor.  I've heard it performed once by Charles Noble, assistant principal violist at the OSO.  It knocked my socks off, and immediately went into my "bucket list" of pieces to learn - someday.  On the surface it seems simple enough,   the main melody on its own is relatively simple to play.  But then add in the chords, up-bow staccato, chromatic fingerings, turns, progressive double-stops, and gradual building of the dynamics, and this piece pushes my limits, and then some. 

I've also dusted off Bloch's Suite Hebraique.  It's concerto competion season at my community orchestra and what better piece to play than the one I worked so hard on for months earlier this year?  It is one of my favorite pieces for viola, taking full advantage of the range of the instrument.  Surprisingly, I still have it mostly committed to memory which is freeing me up to focus on other aspects of this piece and my technique.  Maybe I'll perform it again at my church if we can figure out how to work in 10 minutes of music in a 4 minute slot.

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