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Mendy Smith

2010 Review

December 31, 2010 at 2:28 AM

2010 has been an interesting and exciting year musically.  It has been a year of performances, attaining goals and setting new ones. 

First and foremost, I achieved my "Bach by 40" goal several months ahead of schedule.  It was the highlight of the decade, celebrated by me playing all of the Bach Cello Suites from beginning to end in one afternoon. It was a goal seven years int he making, starting in Malaysia, and traveling to California, Oregon and finally Texas.  Little did I know that this musical odyssey would lead to an interview with another violinist for the making of an e-book. 

Having achieved the "By 40" goal, the hunt was on for a "By 50" goal.  With help from a friend, a new goal was formed to work through the entire alphabet of composers who wrote something for viola starting at the letter "Z" and working backwards towards "A".  So far, this has been an adventure in and of itself simply finding composers who wrote something for viola at the tail end of the alphabet.  I've found everything except "Q" at this point and have worked my way from Z (Zelter), Y (Yun, Ysayse), X (Xiannias - but holding off on that one for now), W (RV Williams), and V (Vieuxtemps).

Performances... I can't believe how many times I've performed this year outside of the community orchestra.  I've been playing solo at church, small ensembles at church, pre-concert ensembles, retreat,s a funeral, pit orchestras, to outside concerts at the park.  I've played them prepared, not-so prepared, cold, hot, in high heels, bare-footed, dressed up, dressed down, and even dressed in costume.  One thing I learned for certain this year, I can play in just about any environment under just about any circumstance life can throw my way and live to tell the tale and even get a few compliments. It is a far cry from where I was just a year ago.

I bought a violin and learned how to play it.  It took a few months to get over what string to play on and get my left hand fingers to crunch up closer together, but I learned how to do so well enough to play publicly on the violin a few times.  As nice as the violin is, and how easy it is to play compared to the viola, the viola is still my first true love.

And finally, I'm back to playing in a quartet again.  Out of everything that I play, chamber music is what I love the most.  There is a great satisfaction in playing with other people in an intimate setting, learning to read their body language and breathing patterns to make beautiful music together.  There is nothing quite like that collective breath that happens between one phrase and the next.

Tomorrow or the next day, I'll ponder what 2011 will bring.

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