Yesterday was the "Sponsors' Concert" for the Arlington Philharmonic. This means it's a big fundraising concert, inviting all the sponsors. We also had a soloist, Er-Gene Kahng, playing the Mendelssohn violin concerto, in honor of Mendelssohn's 200th birth anniversary. She won the Young Artists' Competition last year, and for this concert flew in from Arkansas, where she is an Assistant Professor of music at the University of Arkansas. We didn't get much time with her, just one rehearsal. She's very humble and unassuming in person, but when she plays--wow. Her violin itself is also amazing-sounding. The other soloists have been kids, but she's a mature musician who I think would be comfortable and successful performing anywhere, not just First Parish UU church in Arlington. It's very neat, and we are very lucky, to have soloists of this caliber performing with us. My daughter came to the concert too, to hear the violinist. She filmed the whole thing.
I played the viola in this concert, not wanting to switch back and forth between two instruments with my viola recital earlier this month. It was the first time I'd played viola in an orchestra for an entire concert cycle. I enjoyed it. At first I thought it was going to be really hard; the sight-reading wasn't too good. I had violin moments when I was in the wrong clef. But those decreased in number over time, and it was fun sitting there in the heart of the orchestra, next to another Karen, who plays the oboe and gives us our tuning note. I had a busy weekend, as usual. When I wasn't playing the viola, I was painting the kids' bathroom. Blue. I still had a little paint in my hair at the concert, in spite of a vigorous washing, so there were several reasons it was probably good I was sitting in the back.
I spoke with the conductor about which instrument to play for the next concert. And after all this back and forth, after my saying how much I like the inner voices, and all that--after buying a viola for goodness' sake--I felt awkward saying aloud that even thought I'd enjoyed the viola part, I wanted to go back to the first violin section. I miss it. I like the first violin parts. And, I like sitting up front and leading the section. He not only let me go back, but is happy about that decision. I'm glad. It's important to me to feel like I'm doing something that will help the orchestra be a better orchestra, not just to feel like I'm doing something to satisfy my own personal musical whims.
So I'm getting to the point of having to make a decision about the violin I have on trial. I like it pretty well and my teacher likes it too. She thinks it's a great value at the price, which is very reasonable. I was supposed to go to at least one more violin shop in the past week, but it's just not happening. A couple of days ago I was messing around with it and just decided to play the opening of the 1st movement of the Bruch concerto. I hadn't played that in 20+ years, and hadn't done very well with it when I tried back then, but it sounded really quite nice on this instrument. I played it for my teacher too and she was impressed. She said the instrument had clarity and projection without sacrificing warmth of sound on all 4 strings. Another friend of mine liked the instrument too except for the E string. I also am skeptical about the E string. I'm just a little concerned that, in trying to get what my current violin lacks (the rich warm G and D), I might be sacrificing a little E string sparkle. What's on there now is a set of Thomastik vision strings. The apprentice offered to send me an Infeld Red E-string so I could try that one instead (I have that on my current violin and like it). If this violin can make me playing the Bruch sound good, it must have something going for it . . .Tweet
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