May 2007

Going Smoothly

May 25, 2007 14:57

Well, the recital went well...and now on to Elgar Piano Quintet.

Meanwhile, Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto, the city of Charleston's companion festival, have both started, and I hope to be in the mix, watching, listening, and writing. Many wonderful things happening here, including a recital by Yuri Bekker, the new concertmaster of the Charleston Symphony; chamber music by many members of the symphony; a jazz tribute to New Orleans; the premiere of Philip Glass' "Book of Longing", and much more. Stay tuned.

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Endings and Beginnings

May 5, 2007 01:58's been a while since I've been here. Why, I have no idea, save that I've been "busy". There have been many concerts, many trips, and many wonderful people over the past few months - as well as many thoughts that have been recorded in a journal, the purpose being to post them here. Not knowing where to start, I will say a bit about a wonderful new friend, a violinst with whom we are all familiar from her performances in the recent Indianapolis Competition.

In February 2007 I played the Mendelssohn Concerto in New York in a benefit for the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra. Two days, flight changes (and lost baggage) - and one missed flight later, I flew to Tulsa, OK, to play "Carmen" with the Tulsa Opera.

As "our worlds" have a habit of colliding, Daniela Shtereva, who had just come from winning the Lynn University competition, was also contracted to play in Tulsa. In the three weeks that we spent together (during which Daniela served brilliantly as concertmaster) we had many conversations about life, musicmaking, competitions, teachers, mutual friends (it seems that I have, in the past nine years, met many of the Bulgarian violinists that have come to the United States), and developed what I hope will be a long and beautiful friendship. Should you have a chance to hear Daniela again, do so - she is definitely on the road to a bright future.

One of our conversations was about "endings and beginnings", and I knew that Daniela would be a lifelong friend when, upon talking about winning an audition or a competition, she simply said "That's the beginning." Yes, when "the win" comes, when our name is called as the winner, what seems to have been a life of struggle and question is over in some ways...but that's also the beginning of a new way of being, a new level of responsibility to one's self, the art of musicmaking, and the continued establishment of a career in music.

It's like getting married...the competition or audition win is the "wedding", the ending...the stuff that happens afterwards, the real stuff, is the "marriage", the beginning - and we all know that it's not about the wedding, it's about the marriage, the day-to-day actions that determine whether or not a recital will go well, whether or not (if I may) a marriage will survive for years, whether or not a career will last for more than a few appearances.

Now, at the end of the season 2006-2007, I'm about to play a recital, probably the most taxing program that I've ever done and the fifth solo performance of this year. Works on the program are those that I have loved, performed, and have wanted to perform for quite some time: Bach G, Havanaise, Ysaye 2, Prokofieff F Minor Sonata. While I did at one point think "My goodness, this is a huge program, what on EARTH am I doing?" I did also remember that this feels like a real "fiddler's program" and I have enjoyed the challenge.

Choosing this program was a part of a year during which I have had to reevaluate many things, including why I do what I do - and what I want to be known for every time I pick up the fiddle. This was daunting, but did prove beneficial, as there is now more to focus on that just "getting through".

The questions:
What are my key artistic issues?
What are the key violinistic issues? Who/what/where am I, both now and in relation to where I've been/with whom I've studied?
What did I take from every experience?
Where do I want to go with all of this?

From a historical standpoint, one of the most visible results of someone's "vision" was the creation of what we now call the "standard orchestral repertoire", a body of work that became standard due to Felix Mendelssohn and his work as music director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. During his six years as music director he chose the core repertoire of the orchestra, focusing on the works of Beethoven, Mozart, Hadyn, Gluck, his own, and many new works (including a symphony by Niels Gade, the composer who later became Mendelssohn's assitant and also conducted the premiere of the latter's Violin Concerto, Op. 64) while also securing a pay raise - and establishing a pension - for the musicians in the orchestra.

In our time, the impeccable intonation and miraculous clarity heard in performances by the Cleveland Orchestra and the Academy of St. Martin's in the Fields are great examples of how taking all of the factors into account -in the context of a larger vision of where or "what" one wants to "be" - has worked.

Thinking in this way, as opposed to just "doing the recital and passing the exams to get the degree" can actually change one's outlook, and while I have had an inkling for years of what I have wanted to do, approaching everything from the framework of Who/What/Why/How has changed everything, including the time spent with the metronome and the tuner...

...and now to bed. Dress rehearsal this afternoon.

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