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Mendy Smith

OSO Concert - Jun Iwasaki Concerto Debut

February 1, 2009 at 9:17 AM

Last night I got an e-mail from my viola instructor.  The concertmaster, Jun Iwasaki,  was going to be performing his debut concerto this weekend... the Korngold Violin Concerto.  Did I want some free "comp" tickets and bring along some friends?  Ohhhhh YESSSS!!!!!  He called me back and told me to meet him at the entrance to the Arlene Schnizt and he'd have them in hand.  And oh by the way, did I want to play with the PSU (University) Symphony?  If so, he would have the conductor call me.  (er...  YES!!!)

So, I found a friend that was available and we trucked our way to the concert hall.  It was COLD waiting outside for Joel.  At first I didn't see him, but he found me, and we got our tickets.  My friend and I got a few raised eyebrows from a few others getting tickets from a member of the orchestra.  It is one of the perks taking lessons from Joel.  It was his way of lifting my spirits after getting laid off.  Thanks Joel!  It worked!

The conductor, Carlos Kalmar is an excellent orator, and spends the time speaking to the audience about the music that is to be performed, it's history and antecedotes about either the piece, composer or world events when it was written or debuted.  We discovered that this piece was written during the most severe economic crisis of all - the Great Depression, and that Korngold's granddaughter was in the audience.  It was orginally commissioned for someone else, a friend of his (I forgot who that was), but was first debut by Heifitz.  The pre-concert also included a  presentation of a teaching award to one of the area's music instructors, including a cash donation to the school for the music program.  The recipient was overwhelmed with joy for having received this award.  With the award funds, the school will be replacing some percussion instruments and purchasing new music. 

Jun's performance was absolutely amazing. Even with the Schnitz's not so favorable acoustics, and my friend and I sitting in the least acoustically favorable spot, every note had its own unique flavor that came through even to where we were sitting.  There were moments when we both gasped "WOW!" outloud, much to the consternation of our fellow audience members.  By the time the concerto was over, the audience could not wait to jump to their feet in in a most amazing standing ovation I've ever seen or heard.  He deserved every moment of it!  His performance was powerful and moving. 

After Jun's Concerto, the orchestra played Strauss's Dance of the Seven Veils.  I've never heard this before.  My friend and I, both violist, got very excited that it included one of those rare viola solo's that happen in orchestra works on occasion.  Since the soloist was also my teacher, we were even more excited than what would normally be expected.  Joel is an animated character, both on stage and off during private lessons.  Every time I watch him perform, I am inspired.  He loves what he does and it shows. 

I will  be going back to my own practice tomorrow with this performance fresh on my mind.  I'll be berating myself on every wrong note -  working those parts slowly then up to tempo, focusing on my tone production, bow distribution, tempo changes and vibrato.  I have one month to prepare for a scholarship if I have hopes of going back to school.  Tess commented that I'm living a lifestyle that most would envy.  Do not envy me.  How I perform musically over the next month can be the make-it or break-it decision of going back to school to "re-tool" myself for a new career.  I am an adult amateur and it will take alot of hard work to earn one of those scholarships I so desperately need at the moment.  This is not a luxury.  It is a matter of being able to fund the retraining I need without accumulating more debt than I can afford in order to switch gears after unemployment runs out and if I still don't have a job. 

From Bill Busen
Posted on February 2, 2009 at 4:37 AM

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way." - W. H. Murray

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