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Karen Allendoerfer


September 13, 2007 at 11:40 AM

The back-to-school time of year seems to be accumulating more and more layers.

Back in the spring/summer when I thought I might play the violin at the Farmers' Market, I found some old pieces I used to play well, among them the Bach E Major Preludio. I thought it would be relatively straightforward to get those pieces back together and perform them. Well, think again. I couldn't get it together with the violin and so ended up playing the viola again the second time and doing fine. It's funny, it's only in retrospect that I really have a sense of what happened. At the time I was just feeling discouraged--but I think now it was a misalignment of expectations, coupled with this ongoing working through of issues from the past and present. Playing the viola, for me, has this quality of being fresh, new, and innocent. It's something I started to do by myself, for myself, and it doesn't have any baggage. My playing the violin, however, has baggage going back nearly 35 years. Not quite as long as Charles Haupt was concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic, but close.

So I started this thread, E Major Preludio for 40-year-old fingers. The story there is not quite all there. I'm really 41, for starters, but I did pick up the violin again almost a year ago now, when I was 40. And I actually have played the Preludio again a number of times since I was 15. Specifically, I played the violin quite a lot in my late 20's and early 30's, when I was a postdoc at Caltech. I took lessons. I played the Preludio for that orchestra audition too--and was concertmaster for one concert series (the position rotated). I played the Brahms C major piano trio too. Serious music. And at that time, I believe I was better technically than I was at 15. But, 7 years, 2 kids, and even less time to practice later, I'm starting over yet again. Still.

After Peter Kent posted his comment to the Preludio thread, and mentioned he'd been a NYSSMA judge for years, his name rang a bell. I wondered if *he* had been my NYSSMA judge all those years ago for that audition. So I went down into the basement and got out an airtight, watertight box (the basement is prone to flooding) where I kept all my old high school things. And I found the audition sheets. The judge for the Preludio, alas, was not Peter Kent, it was someone named A. Garruso, clearly a person of impeccable musical taste and understanding. I just have to repeat some of those comments: "Excellent tempo--clean playing. Bowing and fingering coordination excellent. Attention to dynamic changes also very good. Nice singing clear tone. Clean playing in all positions. Good feeling for the style. Again nice intonation-also in chords. Solo is very well-prepared and excellently performed." 100 points.

But even further down is the jackpot, what I was looking for. The next year, the audition sheet for the Mozart Concerto No. 5 in A Major, dated 1/23/82. The signature is legible enough to show that the judge is none other than one Peter Kent (hi Peter!).


There have been several threads and blogs about being a judge or educator in a public school system that I've seen since being on I just want to say "thank you" to all those people doing that job. Thank you Peter Kent, thank you A. Garruso. Thank you too to Laurie Niles and Patricia Baser and Paul Grant and Corwin Slack and anyone else whose posting I might have missed who is out there now in the public school trenches. You are touching your students' lives for years to come.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 13, 2007 at 5:08 PM
I relate to this Karen! When I met Michael McLean about a year ago, we realized we'd gone to school together. Upon going through some old programs, I saw that we had played quite a number of symphony concerts together!
From Corwin Slack
Posted on September 13, 2007 at 2:22 PM
I am not sure I deserve the shout-out. I am not an educator and my posts regarding public music education have been somewhat critical.

I did have a wonderful experience in High School and regret that my children have not had what I had.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 13, 2007 at 7:14 PM
Corwin, even if you are not an educator, what I think is great is that you are involved in your kids' education to the extent that you are. I think that the musical education of children is one of those things that, ideally, "takes a village."
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 13, 2007 at 7:19 PM
Laurie, what I think is so cool about this is that our paths crossed again on 25 years later--even though I now live in another state and do something else for a living. Thanks so much for creating a site that helps make connections like that.
From Neil Cameron
Posted on September 13, 2007 at 10:23 PM
Gee, I think it was a bit mean of the examiners to mark your scales
B-A-D. :)


From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 14, 2007 at 9:22 AM
LOL! But he did give me all 10 points for those B-A-D scales . . .

Another reason I posted this is that I'm curious about what they do in other states and countries besides New York in the 1980's. These auditions were a black box for me and I think it would have helped to have had more of an idea what to expect.

From Richard Hellinger
Posted on September 14, 2007 at 7:26 PM
HaHA those forms have barely changed in the past 25 years!
From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on September 14, 2007 at 8:05 PM
What a neat story Karen! A small musical world, isn't it? :)

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