It was really hard to leave Columbia, MO yesterday. I have a lot of family and friends there, and even though I was there for almost 2 weeks, it still didn't feel like quite enough time. I was very happy to get to spend some time with my friend, Rachel, and my mentors and supporters of the Missouri Symphony, Edward and Judith Chmielewski. I get so see all of them so rarely, it was a special treat to get to spend more time in town with them.
I spent most of yesterday morning picking out a new camcorder at Creve Coeur Camera. I bought my current camcorder in 2007 and it has given me problems ever since! I'm sure most of you have noticed the quality of my videos and the fact that a lot of them "re-focus" continually. No longer! I bought the Sony HDR-CX430v so now I should have crystal clear video and amazing surround sound audio. FINALLY! :)
The trip home was pretty relaxing - I spotted an amazing sunset again and managed to get some pictures!
Today, my student in Dallas, Ellen Kim, had her senior recital! She began violin with my mom when she was around 5 and I've been teaching her for the last 3-4 years. The recital was a combined recital with her friend and violist, Tiffany. Ellen played Praeludium and Allegro by Kreisler, Kabalevsky's Violin Concerto in C and Prokofiev's Court Dance from his 5 Cinderella Pieces. They played the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia to finish :) She was awesome!!! I'm so proud of her!! She has really come a long ways in terms of technique and musicality, and especially in breaking out of her box and reaching out to the audience more in her performances.
She will be attending Dartmouth in the fall - her top choice school! I'm really going to miss her, but I think we might try to continue lessons over Skype which we were already doing pretty regularly while I was in Houston.
I'm back in Houston now for a couple of days to play in church and give my studio their last lessons for the summer before I leave for Colorado. My car hit 100,000 miles today!! AHH!!!!
Keep in touch, everyone!
Performing Shostakovich with the Missouri Symphony was an absolutely unforgettable experience! But it was immediately on to the next thing as I got together with 3 of my colleagues to put together and perform Beethoven's Quartet Op. 18 No. 4! The Hot Summer Nights Festival's first Chamber Concert was Monday night so we got right to work rehearsing on Sunday afternoon. The really great thing about this performance was I got to work with one of my super good friends, Rachel! We've known each other since we were really little - her mom plays oboe in the Knoxville Symphony and my dad was music director there for many years when I was young - but since I'm in Texas and she's in Tennessee we don't get to see each other very often! I was so glad that I got to play together with her for this piece!!
Tyler, Sharon, Rachel and me! Awesome Beethoven Op. 18 No. 4, you guys!!!
The other two members of our quartet were actually Cleveland Institute of Music alumni! Sharon on cello and Tyler on viola - Tyler and I actually overlapped at CIM for a couple of years but I don't think we ever ran into each other :( We had fun with this quartet though!
We rehearsed for a couple of hours on Sunday, then did another short rehearsal on Monday before our run through at the church. We ended up performing last on the program, and it ended up being PRETTY warm on stage, but I think we were all really happy with our performance and I certainly had a great time!
Annika shows me which of the pieces she's working on is her favorite!
After my concert on Saturday I saw a lot of young audience goers who were members of the Missouri Symphony Conservatory. They were so thrilled to meet me and see me play that I offered to give a few of them lessons. I taught two of them today - Solveig and Annika. They're both 12 and are doing absolutely wonderfully in their violin studies!! They were such sweet and hard working girls, it was a real treat for me to work with them! Tomorrow I work with three more kids and I can't wait to see what they bring for me!
Our assistant conductor, Adam, hands out batons to the next kids in line!
Tonight was the Missouri Symphony's first Family Concert of the season. The concert was titled, "What Do You Like On Your Pizza?" The concept was to teach the audience about the Theme and Variation form of music by comparing pieces to building a pizza. Such as how Pachelbel's Cannon uses a ground base, which is like the base crust of a pizza on which you put all sorts of toppings. And how some pieces have variations based on nationalities (we used an arrangement of Pop Goes the Weasel that had Swedish, Jewish, Viennese and American variations) - much like how you can use different toppings to make many national-flavored pizzas. Near the end of the program was our March section where the kids in the audience were able to come up on stage to have a chance at conducting the orchestra. Rachel and I got to sit in the back and help the kids work on their conducting skills before they stepped up onto the podium ;)
Very fun concert, and I definitely went out for pizza after!
On Saturday night I performed the Shostakovich Violin Concerto No. 1 in A minor with the Missouri Symphony! I have dreamed of playing this piece with orchestra for years so this was truly a dream come true!
Working with the Missouri Symphony this week has been a blast! We had a sort of preview rehearsal with most of the orchestra members on Tuesday evening and then the real rehearsal was on Friday afternoon. Two and a half hours of Shostakovich-y bliss!
I felt so lucky to have basically a whole afternoon to work on the piece. It gave us plenty of time to figure out transitions and run the faster movements a couple of times.
The day of the concert I got up early to practice (but made sure I got a good night's sleep) and had the dress rehearsal at 11:00. We did a couple of spots and then did a whole run through of the piece. Isn't the Missouri Theatre beautiful?
The rest of the afternoon I practiced, rested and snacked on a few things. It can be hard to find the appetite to eat anything the day of a big concert! I grabbed the things I needed where I was staying like my dress, make up and curling iron and then went back to the hall to get ready.
After the overture Ruslan and Lyudmila it was time to go on stage! I said a quick prayer to remind myself that everything is in God's hands and that this performance would be for Him and then walked out to the audience applause.
It was such an exhilarating experience playing this whole piece with orchestra in front of an audience! I've played many concertos with orchestras before, but this one was new for me and it was such a thrill! The first movement was dark and contemplative, the second movement was exciting and full of character contrasts, the third was heartfelt and passionate, and the increasingly intense cadenza blasted its way into the fourth movement which kept driving forward all the way to the end! By the time it was over I felt like I had run a marathon!
This was certainly one of the top performances I've been happiest with. I think it's mostly because the piece is just so spectacular, it's amazing to play it at all!
I want to sincerely thank the Missouri Symphony Orchestra for their amazing work on this piece. I felt so comfortable playing with them and the accompaniment is not easy! Not to mention putting it together with the soloist! I couldn't have asked for a better set of musicians playing behind me or a better conductor to work with! Thanks, Dad ^_^
I got a couple of pictures backstage during the intermission - here's one with my dad :)
Thankfully I had my sister around to carry my violin for me because I certainly couldn't walk up and down the stairs very easily in my dress! :P
After the intermission I went into the audience with my mom, sister and grandmother to watch the Tchaikovsky "Pathetique" Symphony on the 2nd half. It was an incredible and moving performance! I just LOVE the Presto 3rd movement of that symphony!
I got to talk to a lot of the audience members at intermission and after the concert. I'm always glad to get to do that and am sorry that I don't get to see everyone! I got a few pictures with some of the kids from the Missouri Symphony Conservatory, which was super fun! Here's a picture with Annika! She was so great and took some pictures for me during the Friday afternoon rehearsal! Thanks, Annika! <3
The next morning I was very surprised to find a giant color photo of me in the paper! I'm SO happy that they found my new pictures on my website!! Thanks again, Kate Lemmon for the amazing photography! It looks INCREDIBLE in the paper!
After a bow rehair in Dallas and a 10 hour drive, I'm finally in Columbia, Missouri! I got in around 11:30 pm and then had a very relaxing sleep.
The Missouri Symphony's Hot Summer Nights Festival officially starts today! Check out the programs for this season!
After some Shostakovich score study this morning at Panera Bread, I went to the hall to practice and then attended the musician s luncheon for some Shakespeare's pizza! :)
In the afternoon rehearsal we worked on the John Williams/Gardel Tango. It's so nice to hear it with a full orchestra!
In between the rehearsals I decided to test out a new shoulder rest.
-Disclaimer- I am in no way advertising or promoting either one of these shoulder rest, I just wanted to record and share my observations :) -/Disclaimer -
When I got my bow rehaired yesterday I took a look at the Pedi "Elegante" carbon fiber shoulder rest. I seemed to remember that someone had told me to try it and my luthier told me I could borrow it and try it for a while.
In the shop I noticed that the Pedi seemed to make my violin sound much different and even more focused. This was an exciting thought but I couldn't tell if it was affecting the projection of my instrument - either positively or negatively.
The shoulder rest I've been using for the past 12 or so years is the Kun Bravo and I've never had an issue with it except that its heavy and I wonder if that's why it falls off sometimes (I've had the feet replaced). Now I have noticed that this shoulder rest does make my violin project better but what I couldn't tell was if the Pedi was doing the same thing or maybe even better.
I tried them in the hall for my dad and he didn't even have to think twice. He said the Kun Bravo clearly sounds better. It projects more, sounds fuller and more focused and makes my violin sound better. He said the Pedi wasn't as focused and made the violin sound student-ish.
So interesting!! It sounded much different under my ear! But I'm taking his word as a musician because I sort of had a feeling that's what was going on and it's very common for things to sound much different out in the hall.
So, I'm sorry, Pedi "Elegante", I will be returning you. It's really intriguing to find out how much of a difference your shoulder rest can make for the sound of your instrument!
After dinner, and the first half of the evening rehearsal, we rehearsed the Shostakovich violin concerto!! I have been DYING for this moment!! It was incredible! It was a really amazing experience putting together the work I've done on the solo part with all of the colorful sonorities in the orchestra behind me. I was thrilled the entire time. I can't wait for our second rehearsal and the concert on Saturday! :D
Time for some sleep and more Tango rehearsal tomorrow!