July 2007

Stolen Fire: Hilary Hahn/ Josh Ritter: Guilty!

July 18, 2007 16:02

I find it both ironic and eery that beautiful
beautiful peace loving historic Quaker
inspired Guilford College's Dana Auditorium, was
the scene of this crime. They are Guilty!
Guilty I say! The proof follows.

July 17th at eight in the evening, a very mixed
unsuspecting crowd assembled at Guilford
College's Dana Auditorium as part of the
Eastern Music Festival. Little did they know
that their hearts would be layed open raw, as
Hilary Hahn and Josh Ritter both literally and
figuratively stole fire from the Gods, and, made
them like it. Disgraceful.

Young girls and old softies would be enticed
by Josh Ritter's opening folk songs, that was
not unlike the rare four of four star rated by
the "Rolling Stone" Tom Rush lyrically. Knowing
exactly how to break the ice, the coy, calm, cool
Josh Ritter was setting the stage for this crime,
as Josh's last song relied on the eternal "Last
Rose of Summer", evoking the equally powerful
image of a rose. Despicable! Oh, the plot thickens.

Showing the true connection between folk and
classical, the pied piper two would then deploy
lovely Ms. Hilary Hahn to finish off the poor
people, with a direct poignant example of how
Ernst interpreted Variations on "The Last Rose
of Summer" classically. These partners in crime
were playing pre-meditatively--I'm sure of this.
I will convince you of this.

Josh Ritter would rest the crowd before intermission with a beautiful song: "The Blue Flame". But their plotting and nefarious ways were not far behind. And I think the rest may have had other motives.

I'm sure of their intentions because next Hilary
Hahn finished off the call to battle with the most
beautiful rendition of Bach's Sonata for solo violin No.2 in Am imaginable after intermission.
Every note, every phrase, every vibrato was
perfectly intoxicating, rich, balanced, resonant
and God inspiring beautiful.

Or was it really God invoking and provoking? I think you see the picture of their plot too, as well as the intention of Josh's previous rest.

Sadly but tellingly, Hahn even warned the crowd
sort of. "If you don't like violin, you should
leave because for the next twenty minutes....",
as she played Bach. A pin could be heard. A silence fell on the auditorium unmatched throughout the entire evening. I could feel the entire group melting. Of course nobody left--they were completely mesmerized.

Diva Hahn would truly begin the epochal battle
playing Ysaye's "Ballade"-I think a test to ensure
the crowd was present and ensnared in what would
happen next, by adding complex "abstract"
substance to their evoking of the Gods.

Hahn then reversed order of examples by interpreting Erlkonig:Ernst's "Caprice for Solo Violin, after Franz Schubert, Op 26. Further drawing the crowd in with her description of the four voices present in the piece, the War was about to begin.

Josh Ritter boldy, even courageously stepped up and shared his interpretation of the same Ernst piece from Schubert, entitled as a direct translation "The Oak Tree King".

Josh's images were bright and lucid, and he told the story in the true spirit of storytelling, but in song in his most brilliant animation of the four voices. The God's would soon show their displeasure at Josh's sharing of eternal secrets.

The battle between Greensboro North Carolina and
Prometheus was just beginning though, you can be sure of this.

Paganini's 24th Caprice, finished off the crowd who had had their hearts melted with Hahn's interpretation of Bach. Now the Gods tried to fight back!. Thunder and lightening erupted loud war dances just above Dana Auditorium as Hahn played Paganini. (True story)

One poor soul who was still trying to compose himself from her Bach, displayed what seemed a maniacal grin, given swollen eyes and a defeated embarrassed countenance hoping nobody could see, as all hades broke lose outside and Paganini filled the hall inside. Translation: 'ee-hah.' These two showed no mercy friends!. No mercy at all... They are guilty!

But after defeating the Gods, and involving the
entirety of Dana Auditorium, Hahn stood with her
foot on Prometheus' chest as she played
Paganinians for Violin by Milstein, bringing
Everyman's de Tocquevillian journey into the

And Josh Ritter stomped his feet right beside
Prometheus right ear, by having the audacity to
accompany Hahn with classical guitar in Paganini's
Cantabile as an encore, quite beautifully--his first attempt at that form.

Knowing they were defeated, the God's quieted the
thunder and rain enough for the poor unsuspecting
victims of this epochal exercise to return peacefully
to their hamlets and hollows; as if this time the
God's, were inducing future wars of phenomenal
beauty, skill and interpretation of life itself.

Storytelling at it's best!. Brilliant. Exhausting.

9 replies | Archive link

A Festival of Festivals:my daily ramblings

July 16, 2007 09:37

I knew this was going to happen but do not really care. After a couple days of minimal practice, or at least one, I threw down like a kid in a candy store. But most importantly is how things came together generally. I used a mirror almost the entire practice, and whala: the tuck, the table, overall lightness of hold, and more: a big cool important more. Raphael, you know what--if you asked today, you probably could have my Bud Lite.

During my posture festival I had been practicing using almost no chin pressure to help stable the instrument; and, I had been having somewhat zoned out problems finding the table because so many things have changed for me recently. So last night I realized that zero pressure does not mean no pressure with the chin and played with a well formed forward but not raised table consistently. And I played, and I played, and I played. I feel like I've been on a drunk. And I played. And my southpaw though a little tired, is quite ok.

So, I increased my chin pressure from stable to lightly throughout the night, going from an 'able to hold the violin up on the table' posture to a 'minimize considered' posture. Also, because I'm using a center mount, am finding my chin doesn't really hit the chin rest, but my jawline feels perfect on the rest. Oddly even to me, this feels less claustrophobic to me in a way I do not understand. And I can see my pretty face in the mirror as I practice (Henry Fielding pronunciation).

Once again, a new level has been achieved though I would not be the one qualified to describe it. My playing on this stable table was really really nice, full (or becoming fuller)--just wonderful.

And I also started applying two points I feel important to stamina. Playing from center better is one point, a point shared by teacher; but, the second point has to do with visualizing the straight neckline in a truly truly relaxed interaction with the instrument--very nice indeed. I think the teacher might have inferred this if not directly mentioned it, but it was the web site from the Netherlands that drove it home to an image I could truly work with.

These things, these layers, these elements, have little yet to do with bowing. These festivals, spread out over weeks and months now focusing at first leisurely then intently on posture I feel soon will be joined with the work I've done with bowing I hope. But that, may be another festival.

One more thing: my coach helped me with some shifting circumstances perspective building on the phone last night. (AE-shoot for above 5th--all the way)(GD-get competent to 5th and don't worry about it.)

My first impulse on waking was to practice, but I have to rest some so I'll wait until later.

If it's the Lord's will, I'll see Hilary Hahn tomorrow night in Greensboro. I'm so excited I can't stand it. This will be a good break for me.

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hmm: Whassup with that Darcy.

July 12, 2007 19:42

Darcy's Blogs are like repeating over and over.

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Ruth's Right: Closure is a circle.

July 12, 2007 11:26

Last night, I surmised as to how:
'Now I can see how to improve in other ways too, and that's so cool. But somehow, some things, from some place, are coming together that get me sort of where I think I'd been a few months ago had I not begun injured. Buri, I'm sure you shall never see Alexander as I shall apply it. I earned this aside--and besides that I'm that laid back anyway in reality. Even if in all these things I'm at like an advanced toddler's>>early childhood stage creating a metaphor, I know how to get them???... Yes...'

After reading Karen's closure and Ruth's telling comment suggesting one step forward and two steps back, I realized just how true this is while working on my left wrist more this morning, adjusting my shifts to my now shoulder-restless hold, and just in general as well.

Getting ready to go check out Hilary Hahn in a few days will help my spirits in all this I'm sure, but it really seems as Ruth suggested--one doesn't really know sometimes when and how they get better.

Now, I'm working on collecting perspective on how to use the left wrist better, beyond the shoulder-rest thing. Fortunately, Caeli's "Time for Three" rocked double Bach lightening things up along the way.

Onward, upward, then again.

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Somebody put Moonshine in my Cheerios

July 11, 2007 22:58

Listening earlier today to apparently one of the members here, playing Kreisler Preludium, I realized that it is now achievable for me to start moving towards more expressive confidence, at least in small ways. My posture and bowing are balancing some. Wow!.

So tonight, after working on Suzuki III/7 Bouree last night, I was still timid with the chords, then I read a description of gliding through them, seamlessly-- adding a quality I think is likely inferred here. But tonight, I started legatomeistering my chords, and finding a couple extra applications adding a trill on the end, dancing around them in scales and etc. And throwing in to the first few notes of Preludium, wow!.

This posture festival I've been on actually since the beginning, but cohesively for months anyway, is creating one of the biggest leaps in my playing since the beginning. Now when I mindlessly play, as I have since the beginning, the thing is starting to resonate and swell, and diminish, and a light straight bow, albeit legato considered significantly accompany considerably better control. And it is prittaeh now often, using the Henry Fielding pronunciation.

The role of posture in all the above, is direct and substantial, again. Finding the imagery that addressed my problem areas has been long and hard, I think many will agree. And the other day when I further discovered the role of a lazy left wrist in many of those problems, I felt like somebody put moonshine in my cheerios. JEEEZ!. So now I tell myself ten times a day, 'it's not breaking bad habits, it's creating good ones'.;). But, tonight's jammin was worth it.

Now I can see how to improve in other ways too, and that's so cool. But somehow, some things, from some place, are coming together that get me sort of where I think I'd been a few months ago had I not begun injured. Buri, I'm sure you shall never see Alexander as I shall apply it. I earned this aside--and besides that I'm that laid back anyway in reality. Even if in all these things I'm at like an advanced toddler's>>early childhood stage creating a metaphor, I know how to get them???... Yes...

This all has been pretty overwhelming! Burp!. Wow!.

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Mairead Nesbitt in 'The Butterfly'

July 9, 2007 18:22

Ever since the first time I watched Celtic Woman on PBS I've been in love with Mairead Nesbitt. Her rendition of "The Butterfly" is amazing. Though some have called it all show, she nonetheless expresses the spirit of the Celtic Fiddle as a composite image of beauty, passion and music.

Though one may not call her fiddling sonorous, it like gypsy in my mind reaches back to a time when melody truly tried to express voice, in her case lilt, without bells and whistles. A little martele here and there, and off goes the open mind to her dancing beautiful expression.

See her here

12 replies | Archive link

When a flat is a good thing.

July 7, 2007 11:40

Opportunity to grow comes from the strangest places sometimes. I happened across Bach's Air played in a-flat on youtube a little while ago, and held my own really well.

But more telling, is that all those f4's sounded good for no longer than I've been getting my tuck under to shoot for the resonance effectively because of my posture festival.

So sometimes yes, a flat is a good thing.

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I'm embarassed...

July 6, 2007 14:11

that it took over two years to be comfortable with my violin, and that it took ditching my shoulder rest to make it happen. Even more so, I'm embarrassed that all these little pieces coming together I've known forever: straight wrist, support the instrument, somewhat:play from the front center....

And other little pieces along the way, are only now making sense. (Buri: "your elbow too close to your body", others...)... Sheesh, it's been an adventure. I knew however I was getting there only recently.

After ditching the shoulder rest ala Klayman's site, I started practicing in front of a big wall size mirror a few days past that. But before the mirror thing, I had already sensed and felt many points of relaxed posture.

Then, in front of the mirror, I learned to tweak my elbow and tuck, the last but probably most important part of my posture journey. The relaxed posture had already improved projection noticeably including the very shape and sound of notes as well. But, the elbow tuck, cleaned up my left hand articulation on yet another level somehow I do not really understand. I think it must be related to effective support of the instrument.

But now f4 on other strings has started to resonate almost like an open string. I'm impressed, but still embarrassed.

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My Lavender Violin

July 4, 2007 00:08

Playing without the shoulder rest for about a week now, I played pretty intently for about three hours tonight, working towards more etudes, scales and arpeggios, as well as continuing my sketch of the rest of Suzuki III, and contemplating Emily and Pauline throwing Lavender bras. What a world we live in.

Though my hand is 'a little tender', it is far from and nothing like before. I feel I could continue indefinitely rather than that sense of 'throbbing' as before. That, is a difference.

This lightness of hold, I achieved on and off I guess, or the tenderness would not be there; but, much more than less, I was there with and often returned to that balanced rest with light chin; and, was able to focus on much less gripping. The lightness is successively freeing my vibrato, allowing me to focus much better on a straight wrist and improving my tonality noticeably when several things come together.

Though I continue to search for my ideal placement on the shoulder, I don't think I'll need a pad; but I will cover the chin rest for my neck's sake. And I also continue to get my feet on the ground in the changes in balancing for actually bowing--though this is coming online as well.

Bowing has been not terrible, but a challenge without the shoulder rest. Several squeaks, re-finding how to glide back into the double stop and stop pinging other strings, those types of things should clear up over the next few weeks I think/hope.

Though I had messed around with no shoulder rest a few times, I never really persisted. I wish I had. 'Small stocky men should use their compactness, in creating a very efficient light violin approach that capitalizes on their low center of gravity; and, a self-contained spatial peripheral system of machines in a physiological sense has advantages as well.'

For whatever reason, at the same time I'm playing around with bow speed and pressure positively it feels. Tonight for example I was into playing a few notes with speed, then finding the pressure to try and get the same effect. I think I'll expand on this a little over the next couple days. My instinct tells me this may be really useful.

Primarily with speed/pressure, I find that either I, or my violin is, causing me to use more speed to get her singing than pressure; which in turn means I'm also using alot more energy. I don't mind the work, but if I can start using pressure more effectively I may be able to get better at other bowing(s).

Soooo this shoulder-rest(less) thing feels great--really great. I can envision a day when I might ('way' down the road) try playing with a rest again, if I can migrate the lightness just to further efficiency. But the lightness 'must' come first.

I think the best way to describe the tonal changes, is there is some sort of more resonant projection happening beyond the thing being more in direct line with my ear. And after I get at some of the issues above (string crossings etc),
I expect this projection to improve consistency over the next month as well--or so I hope.

Finally, I'm becoming more convinced that where possible, one might benefit from at least learning without a shoulder rest first, particularly old krachity stiff folk as myself. I know the newness of finding a lot less tension is compelling of itself, but it's as much about the sound, thus the music. I'm painting my violin lavender. ;)

7 replies | Archive link

v.com:The Festival that Never Ends

July 2, 2007 14:34

Over the past weeks v.com has experienced The Great Balancing Act, a festival of work, thought and results. That is why this site rocks partly.

For me it began from an aside that involves balance somewhat in getting my bow dynamic to arch subtly so as to grab notes better in some respects. But more directly various discussions approached this from many angles so far as the balancing part is concerned. Basically for me, poor posture also meant poor bow approach and handling as much as anything else.

Raphael Klayman's excellent site has the nuts and bolts about holding the instrument ala no shoulder rest; and, gives the details about how to get there very clearly. For me, a new way of playing has resulted.

Then someone jumped in with research done in the Netherlands, which I have only begun to digest. This site takes Raphael's notions and truly breaks them down with photos, techniques and even philosophy. The site. I cannot find the original post, but some portions seem to be having technical difficulties. Nonetheless, the parts related to balance are quite clear in meaning.

Then Michael Schallock-How to Hold the violin. creates a wonderful streamlined but complete discussion on the entire topic hosted right here on v.com. With all this information, guess what I'll be working on the rest of the summer Buri.

Though I have found violin fairly overwhelming, mainly because of serial injuries and having to trudge along the best I can, v.com has always kept me thinking, and some days feeling like I'm making progress as a result of these discussions.

Beyond the festival though, Emily keeps me inspired with her photos of Alaska--a region nearly as beautiful as my mountains in southern West Virginia ;-) ; and, Maura keeps me close to the spirit of the Gypsy fidder--the attitude with which I began. And Emil has turned me into a crazy man who in turn has Paganini doing flips in his grave over my Witch's Dance--but God it's fun.

Sue made me feel welcome from the start, and Buri nearly worked me to death along with Kim Jee or something like that--who seems to have disappeared. And many others along the way (Jennifer, Kimberlee, Christian, .......) have patiently tolerated my sometimes repeated questions when I re-encounter an issue I really already know about, and later privately say *#&$#, I already knew that in embarrassment.

And I have to give a mention at least to my persistence in 'getting there' in trying to hammer down some solid basics. For anyone interested these basics to me means fiddling later, with a much expanded technique that allows me to at least realize my love for general classical--using Suzuki 10 as a pre-fiddler's goal.

It's no wonder I feel overwhelmed at times. Little details from other's issues I grab and reference in my mind like a kid with today's hundred dollars in a candy store. Humidity's role in squeaking. Things so advanced, I'll probably have to ask not only again but many times as I encounter them. The many perspectives on when to re-hair a bow. Shoulder rest or not. And the wonderful perspective that most have their favorite greats; and, among even the greats is greatness and failings.

I asked myself how this festival could be so effective for one thoroughly engaged. I've even commented to others of note beyond here how and why it is effective. It is so effective because of Laurie's stewardship, though I wish she would have Robert put the navigation footers at the bottom of every page within a region's context(discussion, blogs...)

But it is Laurie's commitment in scanning threads, and keeping things real that makes this site what it is first and foremost, followed closely by the hundred post limits someone either ingeniously or as the result of having had to simply set limits conceptualized from the start that enables this as well.

I'm interested and qualified to do information and semantics research. Though it's beyond me for the imaginable future, the next festival day's itinerary would be to systematically parse all this information into an available work that makes FAQ seem like the front cover of a book. Look out Simon Fischer, Laurie and Robert Niles have an encyclopedia of advancing information that is on the move and up and coming.

And finally, my violin whom I consider a lovely lady with a bit of attitude, demands that I continue. Long live Laurie's festival! Great job.

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