May 2008

Summer "break"

May 13, 2008 13:22

Well, today was my last day of classes at UMD for the spring semester. All I have is a final and a jury, and I'll be halfway done my master's degree.... and one step closer to figuring out what to do with my life.

I have a pretty busy summer planned so far, and I figure I would write down a list of my summer schedule, both to keep myself accountable (for practicing) and to actually figure out how to do what I want to do.

-The week after school lets out, I'll be playing my last subscription concert of the season at Loudoun Symphony: Gershwin, Mozart, Harris, and Borodin. It's a great program, and I'm so glad that we're playing the Harris Third Symphony. I think it's a great piece to program with more familiar pieces, and it's so intensely emotional at times. Hopefully it will be received well. Then in early June I have another gig with the Trinity Chamber Orchestra in Washington, DC. I've played with them once before, and the conductor is really nice, and they usually program really great music. This concert we're playing some Bizet, Schumann, and the Bruch concerto. The soloist is, incidentally, the same person who hired me at the music school where I currently teach (although she no longer works there). Small world!

-I'm keeping all of my 9 violin students (at least, nobody has told me they are leaving for the summer, yet!), so that will be nice. I absolutely love teaching privately. All of my students are great and unique, and I am seeing progress in every single one of them. Hopefully that progress will continue over the summer. I'd bet that my kids will get a lot more practicing done with school being out, but I'd venture to say that it's going to be harder for the adults to practice as much as they did during the winter and spring. We'll see!

-I'll be teaching at 2 camps this summer. In the second half of June, I'll be coaching the second violin section of the advanced orchestra at the Baltimore String Orchestra Camp. I just found out about the opening a few weeks ago, when the conductor of my orchestra job (who just so happens to conduct at BSOC), recommended me for it. It seems like a great opportunity, and the director seems really really nice. Then, about a week after I leave that camp, I'll be headed off to my alma mater to teach at the Shenandoah University Performing Arts Camp. I've been a counselor and chamber music coach there for the past two summers, and it's just wonderful. The kids are so talented and dedicated, and I like to think that I can help influence our next generation of musicians by teaching during the summers.

-When I'm not teaching, I need to be practicing! I have a recital program to learn. So far, the program is Beethoven Sonata No. 2 (A Major), Hoiby (modern, neoclassical composer) Sonata, and the Wieniawski Concerto No. 2. I never played Wieniawski during undergrad, so it will be nice to finally have that piece under my belt. I'd like to shoot for about 30-40 hours of practicing a week, so I can really feel comfortable with all my new rep by the time school starts in September, so I can hit the ground running.

-Speaking of running, I can't wait for school to be out so I can get back to exercising! This year, I've been so busy with school, orchestra, gigs, and teaching that I haven't been exercising hardly at all. I've been on some bike rides now that the weather has gotten nice, but I can't wait to be able to get back to running every day. Although, I'm kind of nervous to start because I'm nowhere near in the shape I was at my peak, when I was running like 3-4 miles 5 days a week. Hopefully I can get back to that by the end of summer.

Well, I should probably stop procrastinating and practice and study for exams. Good luck to all my fellow collegiate students who are in the same boat as me!

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Hilary Hahn/NSO

May 9, 2008 10:04

One of my old roommates from college now works in the subscriptions department at the Kennedy Center, and can sometimes get free tickets for concerts there, and last night I got to see the NSO with Hilary Hahn playing the Paganini first violin concerto.

This is the second time I've seen her live (the first was the Barber concerto with Philly a couple of years ago), and my impression of the way she plays is really similar to the first time, despite the remarkable differences in repertoire. Overall, a few things really stuck with me:

-Her bow control is AWESOME. The way she can conserve it or be super liberal in her bowing is crazy. The degree of control she exhibits, especially in a piece like the paganini which has such a variety of bow issues, is astounding.

-Her intonation, as to be expected, is nearly flawless. But that's not all. During the first movement, her violin went fairly out of tune, but her intonation was still sparklingly good. Playing in tune on an out of tune instrument is so incredibly difficult, and it was great to not even notice that she had to adjust for it (the only reasons I noticed were the tuning after the first movement, and a unison open D and a D on the G string that wasn't perfect, not due to her fingers, but because her D had slipped).

-Her approach to the concerto seemed more like a piece of chamber music than a solo concerto with orchestral accompaniment. Throughout the tutti sections, she was jump in and play the orchestral part for a few bars, which was really cool and refreshing, especially when she played the second violin part for a couple of measures. She also seemed to have a really palpable connection with the orchestra, which I certainly appreciated.

-WHAT A GREAT ENCORE. After several minutes of standing ovation from the audience, she decided to play the Sarabande from the d minor Partita. I really admire violinists who are willing to play a slow movement of Bach for an encore, which can be a tough sell after something as technical and flamboyant as the Paganini, but it was the perfect ending to her performance. Even after the finger-bending concerto, her Bach was pure and not overly extroverted.

Well, back to practicing, I guess....

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