Category Archives: Performing

On the other end

I made it! I made it through several weeks of craziness, and I had a fantastic concert!

I worked hard, I spent months and months learning and perfecting the piece I was to perform, and the work paid off. I felt that the concert was one of my best performances ever, and that I was very happy with how it went.

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Me and Wendy Lea, conductor. I’m so glad she gave me this opportunity and had a blast working with her!

I want to play the piece again! I felt like so much of my violin playing until now was just leading up to me learning and performing Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons! And I want to wear that dress again…it was amazingly flattering!

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My parents came out to see it, several friends and quite a few students did too. It was really a blast, even though it was also very stressful and I know that I had a hard time dealing with the stress leading up to it. I couldn’t have done this nearly as well without Louie’s support, and I’m so grateful for him.

But now it’s DONE and it went great, and I’m happy, and there will be a video and more photos, and now…now what? What’s the next big thing?

Right now, it’s just a few days getting back into the normal life, and getting ready for a Perseid Quartet concert next weekend, and going to visit April in Atlanta this weekend. And being more relaxed. The next few months (until Christmas) are still very busy, but the stress level is WAY down.

And yay for many of the election results last night. Perhaps our country can turn some things around. Perhaps we aren’t too far gone. Perhaps all the hard work people have put in will pay off even more.

Other photos from the past few weeks:

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We went on the radio with Jim Doyle to promote our concert. Mostly we talked about my love of the color purple…

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Playing with the Illinois Symphony. I’ve learned and relearned quite a lot between playing in a quartet, in an orchestra, doing some improv in a group, and playing as a soloist with an orchestra, all in the past 30 days! Each group requires different skills, different sound, different WAYS to play the violin, and I’m so glad I’ve been saying yes so much! (I say this TODAY, since I had the morning off to run errands and all the stress is currently behind me or in the distant future…) In any case, I didn’t realize how much I missed playing in orchestra, and I’m glad I signed on for a few concerts this year. I always have a lot of teacher guilt when I have to miss or reschedule lessons, but I have to admit: performing is my first love. And more performing makes me a better teacher, and a happier person.

I want to do some more things now: I want to blog more, I want to get back to running (I’ve taken two weeks off, and now I’m taking a little more time off because I had to get a weird thing removed from the back of my leg, but I should be good early next week), I want to focus on some broader technique ideas on the violin in order to help my students more, and I’m thinking of doing 100 days of practice on the viola when I finish up my current challenge. (Follow me on Instagram!) I’m not making it 100 days in a row, but I’m allowing for travel in between—I took off for our Smoky Mountain trip, for a day when I cut my thumb, and I’ll miss this weekend because I’m not bringing my fiddle with me, but it’s been a great challenge nonetheless. I keep meaning to work on the viola more (I’m technically the viola instructor at one of the colleges I teach at) and I think the 100 days challenge will be a fun way to push myself. It’ll be harder because I won’t be bringing the viola with me as much, but it doesn’t require much time, only consistency.

I also want to reconnect with friends that I’ve left behind over the past few months. It’s been a hard fall! And I want to get back into more involvement with the resistance movement. I’ve been too busy and too stressed to show up.

Who am I kidding, it’s not over yet. Atlanta, quartet concert, lots of gigs, lots of teaching, recitals, juries…I don’t suddenly have loads of time. But this is the life I’ve chosen, and I’ve realized over the past few weeks, this is the life I want! At least a lot of the aspects of it Smile

Crunch time

I thought I’d pop in and say a quick hello! I won’t even look to see how long it’s been because it doesn’t matter, nobody reads this except my mom anyway. BUT I still like having a blog.

What have I been up to? Practicing, rehearsing, teaching, stressing out, running…there’s been more going on this fall than ever since I moved to St Louis 9 years ago! I haven’t had a day off since September 11 and won’t until November 11, but I am nearer the end than the beginning and I will make it.

In the immediate past: two weekends ago I had a variety of concerts with my friend Amy, playing in our violin-viola duo called Duo Sirena. My students also participated in a fun event called the Arch Cup and a few of them got to bring home trophies for superior plus performances.

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I’ve now had two rehearsals for my upcoming performance of Piazzolla’s Four Seasons with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis. They both went really well. I’m having so much fun playing with the group, even though this has been an incredibly stressful opportunity! Last night was the second rehearsal and I recorded the whole thing. I haven’t had a chance to listen to more than a few minutes of it, but I will do so today.

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Over the past weekend I played a wedding at the Four Seasons. This is mostly interesting because later than night Katy Perry crashed a wedding party at the Four Seasons, and it was the one that I’d played the ceremony for earlier! But I was at Jazz at the Bistro enjoying a nice show of the Harold Lopez-Nussa trio.

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That night Louie did the four times rescheduled Moonlight Ramble but I had committed to running the Go Halloween 10k in the morning so I did that instead. I was so slow but I finished! I have been trying to run 3 times a week for the past several months and I’ve kept it up. My next plan to try to run faster, hah! And the race was nice—I’d been concerned by the forecast which was…storms and rain, but it mostly only drizzled on us, which was pleasant in the temperatures we had that day.

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So this week is flying by, as things tend to do when one is completely busy all the time. I did have during the day off on Monday since it’s Lindenwood fall break and I was able to go dress shopping for the concert. Tonight starts the Illinois Symphony rehearsals—I haven’t played in a full orchestra in YEARS and I’ve missed it, and apparently I’ve missed it enough to drive 3 hours round trip several days in a row (and one day nearly 6 hours), but I’m looking forward to it. Friday morning I’ll be on the radio (107.3 Radio Arts Foundation) with the conductor of the MOSL, Wendy, talking about our concert, and then the weekend will be another wedding, ISO concerts, rehearsal for a show with Third Millennium World’s Fair (violin, clarinet, guitar, and didgeridoo) on Halloween. We also have a quartet performance next Friday. Yes, I’ve taken on too much! But I’m making it through, with lots of scheduling, careful planning, waking up in the middle of the night stressed out, and COFFEE.

I’d better get back to it! Have a wonderful week, blog readers, and don’t worry, I’ve got this. Mostly.

So you want to host a house concert…

 

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Do you? It will be an awesome experience for you and your guests! My friend Amy and I just played our first one and we learned a lot.

Here’s what we would want in the future.

You: Invite your friends and family. Have them bring wine/apps or provide for them, along with providing the normal party things such as glasses, plates, napkins, etc. Have chairs and space set up for the concert. You’ll want to be able to have 20-30 people (or more, depending on your space) be able to attend and see/hear the concert.

We: Show up. Bring our own stands and  stand lights. Mingle with the guests. Play a concert, interact with the audience. You’ll learn about our music and enjoy it too. We will play for around 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, with a short break. We’ll also get there beforehand and stay after and answer questions! This is a way to get up close and personal with musicians.

You: Provide a basket or jar for musician tips. We did our first one at a friend’s house for fun and to learn. The next one we will need to make some money or we can’t keep playing! If you find that gauche, talk with me. We can work it out. I’m sure your guests would be happy to chip in $10-20 each for a unique and enjoyable evening!

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Here’s how the first one went. Woke up the morning of and worried that no one was attending (we helped out with inviting more than we will in the future, because it just added too much worry and stress, and honestly, you can’t keep inviting your friends over and over, we need MORE audience members, that’s also where YOU come in!)…decide it didn’t matter. Panic that everybody would hate the concert. Decided it didn’t matter because the hostess would love it and we’d have fun playing and whatever, it didn’t matter, who likes classical music anyway? (Spoiler, YOU do, you just might not know it yet.)

The evening arrived: We got to the house. We’d told people 7 pm, and by 7:15 there were probably 25 people. People showed up! Lots of people. They loved it! We started the program around 7:30 and went until close to 9 with a short break. We had a blast playing and talking with the audience, and loved the setting and the gorgeous house and the up close and personal interaction with everybody. Chamber music the way it was meant to be! And the audience was wonderful and attentive and friendly, and of course it’s more fun to play for people like that. These were friends! New and old friends. I had so much fun performing and talking with everybody.

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I’d love to do it again! Look at how much fun we are having! Imagine having two musicians play in your living room. Impress your friends and family with your culture and connections! You can make an ordinary night extraordinary.

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I’m sure I’ll learn more if I play another house concert, but that’s where I am right now. Advice? Interest? Suggestions? Comment or contact me.

Making Music

Sometimes I worry I go overboard trying to make concerts happen. But I love playing, and in today’s freelance world, you gotta be your own manager, booker, agent, etc. So that means working hard to book concerts, promoting them, not making much money, but having a great time while tearing your hair out with stress. Oh, and somewhere in there, you practice and rehearse in the midst of it all. Beats working 9-5 in a dark cubicle somewhere, or at least, that’s what I tell myself.

We had our last quartet concert of the season the other week. My friend April (who has since moved away, NOOOOOOOOO) took some pictures of me. Evidently I play despite having a broken neck.

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We had a nice crowd and enjoyed the concert immensely. I attempted to bake a gluten free treat (Eliana, our violist, can’t eat gluten) and it was somewhat tasty even though it fell apart. I guess gluten free baking is HARD. After the show a few of us went to Schlafly Bottleworks for more food than we had at the reception. It was a nice night!

(We played Haydn “Joke” Quartet and Ravel’s Quartet.)

(I had a really hard time typing the quotations. Not sure what that means.)

Anyway, then Louie and I headed out of town camping. I think I’ll focus today’s blog post on concerts though, since I hear blog posts should have topics. Today’s topic: how I look when playing. (Spoiler alert, great hair, weird neck angles.)

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Louie took some pictures of Amy and I rehearsing for tonight’s House Concert. (If you look carefully you can see him as well. )This I also where I teach, so there’s a small keyboard, a dog, and off to the side, more music than anyone should own, all as disorganized as possible after a few years of working nonstop, or at least, a few years of working OR being out of town getting attacked by bears in Colorado. I plan to try to organize my music a bit this summer—it’s past time, and the house needs help too.

Help.

Anyway! After tonight’s concert, I have no serious chamber music concerts on the schedule for months. There’s a few more on my flute trio’s retirement community series, but those are repeats. We’re recording saxophone and string quartet music, but the concert isn’t on the calendar, so I can say what I said. I plan to relax more, organize, and spend some quality time with Piazzolla’s the Four Seasons for November’s performance. I also plan to work out more often, ride my bike more, and try to actually relax. I’d love to be able to sleep past 8 am as well. It’s been a stressful year, but there isn’t much I’d change, so that either means I’m a sucker for punishment or I’m doing okay! Or that I’ve forgotten what happiness is? (Just kidding, I’m mostly thinking of our political situation.) I also have a list of grand ideas, such as starting a chamber music series, but I’m probably too tired and busy for that. Aren’t we all? Are you even still reading this post?

Unseasonably warm and support the Arts

It feels like spring is already here. I suspect (hope) it isn’t, for no other reason than I worry the mosquitoes will be unbearable this summer. I don’t know if that’s scientific or rational, but it feels right, and that’s the only thing that matters, right?

The spring semester is in full swing. I’m 5 weeks into my college teaching (out of 14 total weeks), I’m near spring break, I’m overwhelmed and stressed yet this week I’ve found more time than I really needed to get things done, which is great. I haven’t done as much exercising as I would like as the time has been awkward and perhaps, just perhaps, the lack of planning and wanting to get up earlier falls on me. I must do better!

I’ve got some fun performances coming up: Carmen with Winter Opera, and then the Ravel String Quartet. Solo wise I’m playing a piece or two on a recital at the end of April (Prokofiev Sonata, I believe, and maybe one short piece too, I’m only one performer on the concert.) And I’m learning Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons to play with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis in the fall, and I’m totally psyched and excited (and honored!). It’s going to be a blast.

I find myself fretting quite a bit over the news. I wrote a half dozen postcards yesterday and mailed them (the ones listed on this activism checklist) and I’ve been writing and faxing letters to my congresspersons. The news is stressful and worrisome, and while I’d love to hide my head in the sand and hope for the best, the fact is: I can’t afford to do that because others can’t afford to do that. I must stand up for those who cannot, and for those who need me to.  You may disagree, but that’s your right. My right is to call, write, protest, fax, and blog Smile

All the while playing music. Come see Carmen! Go see your local symphony or opera company. Support local artists: don’t JUST go to the big symphony or big opera company, go see a small group, a chamber group, a start-up troupe. Just like going to a mom and pop owned restaurant puts more money directly into their pocket, going to a concert by a small organization supports them more than going to the concert by the well established organization does! Don’t assume you won’t like it as much. Of course, I also attend the symphony here and go to Jazz at the Bistro, but I also try to see smaller groups (well, when my friends play, and when I’m not playing!) as those are important too. Don’t just attend Opera Theatre St Louis, go to Winter Opera and Union Avenue and more. Don’t just see the St Louis Symphony, go to the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis, the Arianna String Quartet, the Perseid (hah, that’s me). Go see local productions of musicals. Support artists, and support your heart and soul.

There’s my sales pitch. Maybe the federal government sees no need for the arts, but I think they are incredibly important on so many levels, ranging from emotional levels to economic levels. The arts boost the economy.

Oh, and I mention classical music mostly, but pick what you love best: visual art, musicals, plays, etc. It’s all great!

Apologies for the random post. I had a lot of ideas and typed them quickly. Publish now and off I go!

Taco Thursday

I’m still playing catch-up on life (and vacation blogging, I know, it’s seriously been like three months), and I’m still exhausted, but I am SO CLOSE. Sunday is the recital performance and then it’s all relaxing and unicorns and glitter from there on! I’m trying to stay positive and remember that ultimately, none of this matters and the sun is going to take over the earth anyway.

Last night after teaching Louie suggested we go to Olio for dinner rather than cook, so we went out for a nice meal. Olio is a place I’ve been a few times and they used to have this delicious whitefish salad that was absolutely to die for. Unfortunately it is gone from the menu. Our dinner was quite good but I’ll always miss that whitefish plate.

I’ve had the morning off, which means practicing. The joint of my right index finger is a little achy so I’ve been taking it easy. I am as ready as I’ll be at this point and it’s just a matter of relaxing. I’ve got the Bach memorized well, and I love playing it. I blame the weather for aches and pains—it feels like it’s going to rain, and we’ve finally got into some nice fall weather.

Many of you might follow me on Instagram, but if you don’t (even if you do) here are some pictures I took during the Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder run the past two weeks.

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Here’s one of me in the pit. SELFIE.

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I look a teensy bit creepy there, but that’s just how I look these days Smile

I know that Sunday after the performance I will feel great, and be relieved and all that, and that Monday I will be relaxed and get to sleep in and catch up on a variety of errands and all kinds of things, but until then, I’m just stressed to the max. Preparing for this concert has been much more challenging for me than I anticipated. I will probably have to give quite a lot of thought to things in the future, what went wrong, how I could have done things differently, all that.

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To end on a lol note Smile