Good Review

I don’t normally get reviewed, so this was super exciting for me!

“Concertmaster Hannah Frey played exquisitely in Beppe’s lyrical offstage violin solo.” 

From: Miller, Sarah Bryan. “Opera Review: ‘L’amico Fritz’ Is an Enjoyable Production of an Operatic Rarity.” St Louis Post-Dispatch 27 Jan. 2015.

This might be in fact my first mention in a review! Anyway, I’m thrilled and my friends seem to think I’m famous now. I don’t sign autographs though.

Other than the opera I had a wonderful weekend. Louie and I went up on Saturday to visit friends who live in Spanish Lake. We did some hiking around Fort Bellefontaine. It was a really nice day for it.

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The view from their house.

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Part of the men’s bathhouses?

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The Fort? We got a little confused in places as to what was actually going on, and the “ranger” guarding the entrance was less than helpful. It was however a beautiful day to wander around outside and nice to have a day off to relax with friends.

In the evening Louie and I went to the Sheldon to see Angel Romero play a guitar recital. It was great! I didn’t really care for the soprano he played with, but his guitar playing was fantastic. It was also a treat to see a friend and colleague on piano, Peter Henderson, who is just fantastic all around. I really mean that too. It’s hard sometimes when I run into people from my previous life with my ex-husband—some ignore me, some are awkward, and others are just the same. I get that people feel awkward and don’t know how to act. Other people can’t imagine that I could even survive on my own as a musician, so there’s that awkwardness…I mean, what, freelancer? You don’t have a full-time job? How does THAT work? Okay, maybe I’m overreacting…perhaps my reaction there is the same when people ask me why I don’t have kids of my own. Perhaps it all comes from a position of curiosity and caring and not rudeness and failing to see how other people could be different.

SPEAKING OF KIDS. So I have this wonderful niece in Arizona that I have only seen once. She’s growing and I thought I’d share a picture of her since she is simply the cutest.

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I am going to see her for a week in March. I’d hoped to try to get out earlier but my schedule and affordable plane flights just didn’t add up.

Better go dry my hair now! I went for a run immediately pre-lunch, ate lunch, and then showered, and now I had better get in gear to get ready for teaching. Being self-employed SURE is hard!

L’Amico Fritz

This week is an opera week. I am concertmaster of the orchestra for Winter Opera St Louis and this weekend we have performances of Pietro Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz. A joke I heard was that this is the second opera of a one opera composer.

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So here’s a funny story  about the music. I’d heard from my friend Sarah that there was a big violin solo in the music so to be sure to look at it in advance. The music was ready after the new year, so I picked it up, went home and didn’t find any “big solo.” I texted her that she must have been mistaken…then I decided to listen to the opera online. About 13 minutes in there is a GIANT violin solo. Which wasn’t in my music! So I began panicking and shooting off a large variety of text messages to Sarah about the solo and not being in my music, and then about how AWESOME the solo was and finding the music online. Anyway, in a nutshell. The publisher didn’t have the solo in the part. In fact, the publisher didn’t have the solo at all. But it’s a really fun, giant, huge, violin solo in the opera that I’d never heard before but had a wonderful time working up. And honestly, it is one of those pieces that sounds harder than it is. Anyway, if you are interested, come out this weekend to see/hear the production! Friday at 8, Sunday at 3 at the Skip Viragh Performing Arts Center.

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I’d love to report that I’ve been up to really interesting things not related to the violin, but I’d basically be lying or definitely be exaggerating. As soon as vacation was over I was basically back into teaching 70 million students a week and complaining about how much I needed to practice for my various rehearsals and stuff. Oh, and also actually doing some practice, but I find it’s more important to walk around sighing a lot and stressing over the work that needs to be done while drinking coffee…

We get to that point of my blog post where I mention the weather. AH. It’s been gorgeous. Which reminds me we have done a few things. Saturday we ran around Forest Park and Saturday night I played on a New Music Circle concert on this piece.

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The rest of the program was really interesting too. I don’t always enjoy listening to new music, but I do enjoy learning new things and new ideas, and I found the whole experience to be really great and I’m glad we went. And if you’re looking at that music, we added the little bar lines to make it easier on the eyes—they weren’t there initially.

Wait, I’m back on music again! WEATHER. RUNNING. FOOD.

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CATS IN BOXES!

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BREAD PUDDING

Okay fine, dear readers. I’m off to drink more coffee, practice, run, teach, and play an opera dress rehearsal. Fun day ahead! Think of me and send me your cat pictures.

No January Blues Here

This year I took an additional week off from teaching in January than I often do. It DOES make the month fly by! This week I started up again, and though I must admit I was dreading the first day of lessons, it ended up being a fun week seeing everybody again and getting back into the swing of things. Some of my students impressed me and practiced tons over the break. Some took some time off and are (hopefully) ready to get back into a routine. One told me he hadn’t practiced much at all, and while we were discussing how much he could practice this week to try to get back on track his mother overheard and told me that he had actually taken one week off from practicing over Christmas but then after that practiced every single day except the day before.

Incidentally, it’s been a busy week. I’m practicing for a quartet concert and a sonata concert in February. I met a couple of new people for “networking” purposes, one a long time twitter friend and freelance photographer, another a musician who lives nearby. I found out that the director of the band I gave way too much time to last year has decided to “let me go” because he deemed that a violinist who can also sing backup would be a better asset…which is okay because several of the other players that I admired most and enjoyed working with won’t be returning either, nor was I planning to, I was just waiting to get paid…(sigh).

One of the things that came up during one of my coffee meetings this week was my freelancing life. And it also came up talking with a friend from the band. That I am a fairly successful freelancer AND somewhat experienced at it. I keep forgetting how long I’ve been doing this…sometimes it feels like I just got started. But then people ask questions, and I find that I have (some) answers, and that while I make plenty of mistakes, and don’t make enough money, and probably let too many people walk over me, I have learned quite a bit over the years and might have advice to give people.

Okay, this sounds ridiculous, but it really struck me the other day when I thought, HEY I am doing some things right and I do have knowledge and experience in this and I am doing okay! Like, look at me. I’m a freelancer. I make a living playing and teaching the violin and (here’s the real kicker) some people might think that that is pretty cool and be perhaps, even slightly jealous. Not that I want them to be jealous, nor do I think they should be, but that all over the world there are people who wish they did music full time…and here I am doing it. Living the dream, if you will.

So I’m trying to think of myself as more of a success story than a failure. Granted, I worry about money quite a bit, and don’t have nearly enough saved for retirement at this time. But I’ve only been doing this for around 15 years, and I could probably work mostly full time another 30…so that means I’m only 1/3 in. Plenty of time to save, to earn more, to create, to learn, and to dream. (I added that last phrase for cheesiness purposes.) But honestly, looking at myself as a successful musician, a person who has been successful at making a living as a violinist her whole working career…that’s a really strange way to think about things for me. But I kind of like it. Perhaps this is the year of thinking more highly of what I do.

Arctic Blast part the third

Social media is blowing up about how cold it is. Honestly, it is really cold here. It was colder yesterday, but it’s still cold. I try to remind myself of a few things:

1. It is winter.

2. I have a house with wonderful central heating and space heaters in the bathrooms and other places where needed.

3. Soon we’ll be complaining about the heat.

4. We humans (I’m saying that in a dalek-voice in my head, btw) like to complain. When we have things in common to complain about we feel a sense of community.

5. Writing lists on my blog is fun!

I should probably just add a cat picture and stop there (this is what google tells me most readers want), BUT I thought I’d ramble on for a few more minutes.

Louie and I are “training” for a 5k on Valentine’s Day. Mostly because we are romantic like that but also because it makes us more likely to get out the door to run if we are thinking about maybe registering for a race. We went on Tuesday when it wasn’t quite as cold as it was yesterday, or today. We will probably run again tomorrow. We debated running today but chickened out.

I remember I lived in Cleveland for many years, and I’m sure it was colder then? Am I just getting old and crotchety, or did I own more corduroys and wool?

I also remember there was a time on this blog that I was way more obsessed with working out, but I’m different now. It’s funny. I’m in less good shape, but I feel better about myself. It’s wonderful, really! And I am in pretty good shape, it’s just that exercise isn’t an obsession. I eat what I like, with reasonable portions and try to eat a good amount of fruits and veggies and whatnot, and it all seems to work out pretty well. My goal for the year is still to get in a little better shape and get back into better running shape, but it just isn’t my number one priority.

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I have a million thoughts but it’s hard to organize them into a blog post. Other people do this without trouble, but they probably do things like plan. I like to just sit down and spew words on the page…does that make me sound a little bit insane? Please don’t answer that, actually.

Some friends and I went to see the Bad Plus last night. It was a great show. I was really inspired by it. I’ve had some discussions with band mates about trying to write some music. I’m such a giant classical nerd and lost my creativity a long time ago in that respect, but it feels like it could be something really fun and use some creative outlets that I feel are likely just hiding a little bit. I used to write music as a kid, before I learned about how hard it was and how bad I was at things and how Mahler did it better. And I try to retain that childlike feeling in so many aspects of my life, why stop with violin? I feel like I could write books and books about the difficult relationship I have with the violin…and music, and how I both blame it for my life problems and attribute all the wonder and good stuff in my life to it.

I kind of want to delete that paragraph, both for the eager honesty, and for the bad writing, and also for the rambling and nonsense… but I’m going to leave it. I think one of the themes I’ll have for my blog this year is really trying to share some of the struggles I’ve had with music and the violin. Another theme is cats, and perhaps a third theme of stuff that absolutely nobody wants to read about. That can fit into a large variety of topics, luckily, and is mostly the topic of my blog already, so it’s not a real change.

I was going through the pictures on my phone to see if there are any worth sharing (short answer, no, long answer, I’ll share what I want to share!) and I found this Facetime screencap I made. I think that this is perhaps the most awesome picture of me ever! It’s all worth it to have that adorable face on there, right? Maybe I was trying to make the same face as an adult, and that just doesn’t work.

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And with that, I bid you adieu, friends and dear readers! Stay warm :)

Playing Ketchup

This year I decided to take an additional week off teaching over the Christmas break. Some of my more conscientious students were worried, but I felt due to how busy my fall semester had been and due to some remodeling projects at home I would need the extra week. What I didn’t think about was how I’d need the extra week just to catch up on emails and phone calls! This is only a slight exaggeration. Slight in that I have done neither of those things. I probably have voicemails on my phone from before Christmas that I need to return. (If you called and I haven’t called back, I’m so sorry! I was working so hard, and then I needed a break, and now I’m working on getting back to people slowly. Feel free to call again!)

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Here’s another order of “business”: we got our CD’s in December and I didn’t tell you guys! If you want one, I can sell them to you for $20 with shipping and handling or $15 hand delivered. All of the proceeds go to the St Luke’s Life and Hope Fund, which helped my friend Jen out when she was going through her breast cancer treatments. We’ve already donated over $800 to the fund and have more CD’s to sell. You can pay via credit card and I’ll cover the fees, so just contact me if you are interested! Hannahviolin at gmail dot com. It’s a live recording of our recital together in October, and once they are gone, they are gone!

Fun stuff. I’ve decided to do one of those photo a day challenges on instagram. So far so good. I feel the urge to do interesting things in order to take photos of them. That’s probably a good side effect but might get exhausting. (I’m hannahviolin).

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I like to think of looking back over the year and seeing a picture from each day though. Seems like fun. And I haven’t even used any cat pictures yet, unbelievably.

I mentioned a bathroom remodel. Here’s some awesome wallpaper that was uncovered!

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And a horrific mold situation that is, yes, gone now, so don’t worry.

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I’m going through some photos I might not have shared with you :)

Cinnamon rolls for Christmas.

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Sad that I had to go to work on Christmas Eve.

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One of my new year’s “resolutions” (I used quotes because I didn’t type up and laminate them) was to try to blog more regularly. I like the outlet social media and blogging gives me and I feel more connected to people through those things. I also like feeling creative and writing helps with that. So maybe you’ll see more of me in this space this year.

New Year, Same Me

Happy New Year!

I haven’t blogged for some time and you’ve all probably been wondering, gosh, what on earth is Hannah up to? And I could tell you everything, but the truth is, Hannah has just been busy. Good busy though, mostly, finishing up the Christmas season with shows and concerts and gigs, doing things with loved ones, celebrating the new year, all of those wonderful things.

I wrote this status update on Facebook as my year in review and I’ll copy/paste it here for you.

“If I were a better blogger I’d have done a year-end recap. I didn’t do a Christmas letter either: I’ll just do it here–

I played a bunch of quartet concerts, joined a band, played opera, a recital with solo Bach and put out a CD. I traveled to Phoenix, Philadelphia, Nashville, Chattanooga, Chicago, El Paso and more. I moved and now live with two cats and a dog. I became an aunt to the world’s cutest niece. I got to see my youngest sibling graduate from college and can’t believe we are finally all grown up! I read a bunch of books, watched a variety of television shows, a few movies, ate at some good restaurants and some not-so-good ones. I hiked, sometimes longer than planned, I ran, I lifted a few weights, I ate some great food at home, drank some good wine, stayed up too late on occasion, and tried to be a decent friend.

Now I’m getting ready to put on my party dress and my party shoes and celebrate the coming of 2015. This year was okay. There’s no point in rehashing the crappy parts of the year, because I’m not looking to remind myself of those (though finalizing a divorce is really a good thing, I think!) I’m focusing on the good stuff, and looking forward to ringing in the new year with my loved one(s).

Here’s to all of you that made the year tolerable, that made the year special, that helped me up when I was down, and who were there in spirit when you couldn’t be in person! I wouldn’t have wanted to do it alone.”

So what are my plans for 2015?

Music wise, I want to keep doing more. Musically, I haven’t been this satisfied in years! I want to continue to push and challenge myself and grow as a musician beyond the narrow mindset of “I’m a failure since I don’t have an orchestra job” that has plagued me for years. 2014 helped me grow as a musician in ways that I could never have imagined, between playing with Jen, the Perseid Quartet, the Illumine Ensemble, and the TSO tribute band.

Teaching wise, I need to stay on top of things better and continue to grow. I might be able to swing a Suzuki Institute this summer and get inspiration and fresh ideas! I am pretty aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher and I want to obviously change those weaknesses into things I’m less weak at.

Personally: I want to try to be a better girlfriend, friend, daughter, aunt (!!!), and sister, to be more patient and listen more, and perhaps interrupt a bit less. I’m becoming more aware of some of my personal limitations (group travel is the worst—I literally cannot deal with groups of people for very long and I can become very unpleasant) and I want to work on dealing with my limitations better at least, especially when situations are unavoidable. I want to keep traveling and exploring the world, and I want to give back as much as I can. (Our CD sales have raised around $800 so far for the St Luke’s Life and Hope Fund and we have more copies to sell!)

Sometimes I am struck by how incredibly resilient I am in the face of difficulty, yet other times I am struck by how incredibly lucky I am. I suppose most of us feel this way. Like I said in my facebook status update, basically, THANKS for being there for me. Whether or not I was there for you. Let’s make 2015 an even better year together.

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.