Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What goes through my mind during a concert

Here are some artistic impressions from a concert I recently attended which featured Schubert's "Trout Quintet" for violin, viola, cello, bass and piano. I was having difficulty focusing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Earplugs, anyone?

I just got done with our last University Symphony Orchestra concert for the semester. I walked out of the hall feeling like I'd been covered in emotional vomit, but in the best possible sense. Explanation: Verdi, Rachmaninoff and Respighi. It was fun and oh so dramatic and exhuberant and LOUD. It can be very gratifying to play as loud as possible, especially with a double brass section (complete with a special crack team of off-stage trumpets), an organ, and ten percussionists backing you up. The opening of "Feste Romane" is especially brash--it's about the Romans throwing Christians to the lions. Very apt for Ann Arbor. The highlight of the evening, though, was definitely the solo pianist's tux. It was cream-colored with crazy silver embroidering on the lapels and cuffs, topped off with tennis shoes sans socks. Sometimes I feel jealous that guys are the ones who get to wear tuxes--there are so many possibilities for being creative.

That was just the beginning. The conductor hosted a party at the local pizza joint (outlandishly named "Pizza House") for the orchestra and friends. These parties consist of me sitting at a table nursing a cold one (rootbeer) and watching everyone slowly, or quickly, get trashed. I stayed for the whole party this time, which I've never been done before, and was one of the last to leave. On my way out I got a very emotional (and odoriferous) hug from one of the violists and got to see our conductor at his most inebriated. Interesting thing, alcohol.

Oh, and I've decided I want to be some crazy archive lady who putters around in the musty, dimly-lit basement of some library amongst stacks of dusty old books and wears the same cardigan to work each day and has strange socks and has some kind of nervous tic from not getting out enough. Or a monkey. Yeah.

Do you think polka dots have anything to do with polka the dance?

Monday, December 11, 2006

More of the same...

I didn't mean for that last post to be so short, but I was at school and the computer keyboards there su..... um, are bad. (I'm trying to stop using the words "crap" and "suck".)

So I had this epiphany over Thanksgiving that I really don't want to be a professional musician after all. It was the culmination of many years of indecision. It has always seemed like such a difficult choice to make, but now that I've actually chosen to not be a musician it seems like the most obvious thing in the world. In retrospect, I can clearly tell that I was never cut out to be a performer, nor will I ever be. It's just not in my blood or my soul or my heart or my fingers or my gut or whatever body or spiritual part would be best to reference. The thought of not having to make my way in the music world has brought a profound, almost tangible feeling of relief. It seems like my life is my own again and freedom and liberty are in the air. It feels like I've been liberated from a tyrannical, oppressive regime and am free to make of my life what I choose. Yes, I am getting a bit dramatic and I don't mean to make music out to be some kind of evil force. I'm truly grateful for and humbled by all the wonderful experiences and opportunities I've been blessed with. It's much more than most people get in a lifetime. But I can't deny that I feel so so so much happier knowing that I don't have make a living with it.

So, that being said, I'd like to announce that I'm going to go to library school, a fact that most of you already know. I most likely won't be going next fall--I think I'd like to take a year off from school. Hopefully I can make some money and maybe buy a car or something. We'll see. I'll keep you posted, pun totally intended. Sorry for such a solemn, un-entertaining post

Violist no more

Yes, the rumors buzzing about the country are true: Leslie is not going to pursue a career in music any more. I, for one, feel so terribly wonderful about this news that I wonder why she stayed with it for so long in the first place. That is a mystery for the ages.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Dan asked about the Mozart picture attached to my last post. It doesn't really mean anything in particular, except that it's Mozart and I'm playing a Mozart opera. I just thought it was a funny picture. It's from a series of 5 advertisements for chamber music with the Berlin Philharmonic. The series is entitled "Komponisten Privat," and I guess it's supposed to be about classical music as a non-stuffy -performance hall kind of thing. Here are the other 4 pictures. They're all pretty great--look closely at Haydn.

And speaking of Germans, I just got invited to play in a throw-together orchestra for a graduate choral conductor masterclass with Helmuth Rilling. I don't know if any of you have heard of him, but he's a famous Bach/Mozart-type conductor. I'm pretty excited for it, even though that's a little bit geeky of me. Plus I get $50. That never hurts.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

By popular demand....

I may have inadvertently killed off any interest in my blog by taking so long to write another post. You must forgive me, gentle readers, for my apparent lack of interest in posting on my blog. Unfortunately, the demands of finer art of viola playing have had to come before the pleasures of blogging my dull activities.

The Flint Symphony week was super great, even though I harbor ill feelings toward Schumann Symphony 2. It's not my favorite piece and I've had to play it a number of times. But Enrique gave us a little pre-concert pep talk and told us not to play like we're doing a duty, but like we're doing "a joy." I usually don't actually look at conductors while I'm playing (mostly because they're outside the range of my glasses and I rely on my peripheral vision) but I took the opportunity to actually look at Enrique during the Schumann. He's one of the most musical conductors I've ever played with. Every inch of him expressed the music--he was even wiping away tears during the third movement. People say he cries at every concert and that it makes his mascara run. Whatever.

This week's "joy" is playing the U of M opera, Cosi Fan Tutte. The good news is that I like opera, the music is really beautiful and it's a pretty cool production with only a few scandalous parts. The bad news is that it's three hours of playing quietly and delicately and it turns my entire torso into one big convulsion. The good news is that I'm sitting at audience level and get to see a lot of what happens on stage. The bad news is that I can't be sequestered away in a pit and eat treats and wear purple socks. The good news is that it's over on Sunday and I have an entire free week after that to clean my room.

I know this is a sorry excuse for a post, but all my clever and creative ideas have suddenly left me. Fear not, there will be more posts in the future.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Inspired by Andrea

Now that Andrea's come out with her blog I figured it's safe to tell you all about mine. I've had it for a few months but haven't bothered to tell anyone about it, mostly because I haven't bothered to post anything. I can't promise anything too exciting but, really, would you expect that from me?

This week I'm playing in the Flint Symphony. The conductor's name there is Enrique
Diemecke. He's from Mexico and very espunky and esmiley. His hands are also about half the size of mine, as you may be able to tell from the picture. It's really enjoyable to play there because he makes the orchestra such a friendly environment, and orchestras usually seem pretty stiff and formal. I guess it's usually to maintain some kind of respect for the conductor and to acknowledge his/her role as the leader but I think it's possible to do that and, you know, have fun? Have feelings? Get excited about stuff? I have more opinions about repressed American orchestras, but I don't think they're worth spouting off here.

'Til next time, as the French have it, au revoir.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

PIVA forever

Like the tide, it's time for me to move out once again and brave the wilds of Michigan. I'm leaving my native land for adventures in the unknown; adventures that will test my courage and stamina and walking abilities. Yes, the time has come for......public transportation.