Hello again, friends! I was privileged to take part in WoodFest in the Flint Hills of Kansas this past weekend and I had a BLAST! I played in the WoodFest Symphonia, which put on a sunset concert on Saturday evening featuring Eugene Friesen on the cello and the Cherokee Maidens.
After driving up to Emporia for rehearsal on Friday afternoon, I spent the night in a cabin at Camp Wood YMCA camp, the location of WoodFest. Up until this past weekend, my experience with the Flint Hills was driving through them on I-35 and timing how long it took me to get through them because it never seemed like very long. Waking up to the wide open spaces of the Flint Hills (basically in the middle of nowhere...I drove on gravel to get to the camp!) was a treat. If we would have been able to take coffee mugs out of the dining hall, I probably would have gone for a walk with my coffee to slowly wake up.
Following lunch time, I had intended to wander around, maybe practice, and definitely nap before drinking some coffee. Instead, I ran into the Cherokee Maidens who were about to start a workshop on "Harmony 101" and I joined on a whim. I've been harmonizing for years with my voice, but don't often jam with my violin, so I decided to have some fun and try it. Basically, I played along with some of their activities and then just played things when they took us through a song. It was so much fun for me and I need to do more of that!
The Sunset Concert took place up on a hill and provided a stunning view of the surrounding landscape. I couldn't help but catch my breath at the sheer amount of open space and would have loved to spend time wandering around the hills (someday!). Playing with such ridiculously amazing musicians while the sun was setting was unforgettable. To be able to witness the versatility of my colleagues inspired me to continue to seek my own creative voice, whatever that may be.
Earlier, I called it a privilege to play with these musicians and I mean it. This was my first time participating in a festival in a non-student capacity. Walking around with a wristband that said "instructor" all day was strange, yet really exhilarating! It was such a blessing to share in music with this community and to make new friends.
Hello, again! As I warned in my first blog post, I'm notoriously bad about updating a blog. I've had success keeping a handwritten journal for years, but timely blogging is a skill that I still need to develop! At any rate, I had many of my plans shift quite a bit over the summer. However, now that I've had a chance to organize my life and settle down, it's time to get all of you up to speed.
The unaccompanied recital that I had planned on presenting this summer ended up being postponed for a number of reasons. Most important of those was the need to focus on orchestral excerpts to prepare for a number of orchestra auditions. Going to the Marrowstone Music Festival helped me greatly in my preparations for auditions and strengthened my confidence in my orchestral playing abilities. It was a joy and honor to work with such fantastic faculty members, conductors, and peers. Their stories and lessons were not only amusing, but also full of wisdom. One of the most useful parts of Marrowstone was a masterclass given by trombonist, Joseph Rodriguez, on how to take orchestra auditions. His packet of tips, strategies, and other useful information helped me get organized and develop a game plan for the auditions I've taken this fall. I applied two tips right away after getting back from Marrowstone. The first was to finally organize my excerpts beyond paper-clipping the various pieces together and throwing them in a folder haphazardly, and put them in a binder. From there, I used post-it tabs to color code the excerpts for each audition. The second was to create a list of all the excerpts in my binder and track how well I know them, how many auditions I've played them on, and what supporting materials I have for each excerpt. By taking the time to catalog the excerpts, I've realized that I've worked through quite a few of them many times, but have little actual audition experience on many of them. That's been changing this fall!
After all the audition preparation, I've had three auditions in less than four weeks. It's been quite a season for road trips and quick turn arounds, but I've learned a lot about how to focus and prepare myself to take an audition. While all of the auditions have been successful to a degree (since I learned something useful from each one), I'm happy to announce that I won a position with the Amarillo Symphony in their first violin section! Next week will be my first time playing with that organization and I look forward to making beautiful music with them.
Aside form my orchestral life, I have other musical developments in the works as well. I'm currently seeking more students and attempting to be even more creative as I share music with them. Additionally, I've had a bit of a brain child involving the postponed unaccompanied recital, but I'm still working out the details. I can say that, while it will remain an unaccompanied recital, the aim has shifted slightly. As I work out more details, I'll share more about this project!
In the music world, the beginning of the year is the time for planning summer activities. There are a lot of opportunities for musicians to continue their studies, work with different teachers, and gain valuable performance experiences over the summer. Music festivals typically focus on one aspect of playing whether it's solo repertoire, chamber music, or orchestral repertoire. Typically, students and their teachers discuss what type of festival and performance activities would be most beneficial for the student.
While I'm working on festival applications, I've also decided to put together a solo violin program that I can perform multiple times over the summer. Currently, I plan on giving this recital in both Oklahoma and Iowa, but I am exploring the possibility of giving the recital in other places as well. This will be my first time presenting an entirely unaccompanied program and I am eager to display the versatility of the violin. As a result, the program will feature works that showcase various elements of solo violin playing. For this program, I have selected the Bach g minor solo sonata, the Prokofiev solo sonata, and a currently untitled and as of yet non-existent piece that I'm commissioning from my friend and colleague at OU, Jonathan Annis. As I begin to work on this program (after my master's recital on March 1st!), I'll share more about my experiences with each piece and any observations about them.