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!
I mentioned in my last blog post that I wanted to share my experiences and observations about my repertoire for my upcoming unaccompanied violin recital. This post will focus on the piece that I have already been working on for some time: Bach’s g minor solo sonata.
My history with this piece began about seven years ago. I first learned the outer movements for my undergraduate college auditions and then filled in the inner two movements during the sophomore year of my undergrad. I remember my teacher in high school once making a comment to the effect that my Bach would become better when I was older and had more life experience. My seventeen-year-old self looked forward to the day when I would get to study that sonata again and understand it with more clarity and play it with more depth. Last May, I got the opportunity to study the entire sonata again in preparation for my degree recital.
Ever since I started learning the solo Bach repertoire, I have loved playing it. This music, to me, is so satisfying- emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. When one plays this repertoire, it is incredibly important that the player takes the time to examine Bach’s life and passions because they influence our understanding of these pieces. We need to know who he was, what he did, and what he loved because these things provide clarity and inform the musical direction of the pieces. Adding these details to our understanding of how this music was played in the 18th century allows the performer to craft really compelling performances. As a performer, I take all of this knowledge and then filter it through my own life experiences. I ask myself how I can relate to what Bach expressed through his music, what emotions I feel, and then play those emotions.
My goal in playing music is to find ways to relate to people, whether that is the relationship between myself and the composer, myself and the music, or myself and the audience (or all of those relationships at once!). This requires a lot of vulnerability from the performer and a willingness to be emotionally exposed. I’m constantly seeking to be more comfortable with the discomfort that comes from feeling so exposed. In the Bach solo sonata, this vulnerability is heightened because the performer is alone on stage. As I present Bach’s g minor sonata on this program, I will be focusing on conveying a greater emotional intimacy with each performance.
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.
Hello there! One of my favorite aspects of music-making is building connections with people. I love talking about my musical intentions with people, their thoughts and feelings about the music I play for them, and my desire to add beauty to the world around me. Because of that, I intend to use this blog as another means to build these connections with people. My primary goal for this blog is to share a bit about my collaborative experiences, projects, and professional endeavors that I think you may find interesting. I've been fortunate to work with some fabulous musicians in the past and I look forward to being able to share my future experiences with you. I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog for awhile now and have decided to have a go at it. Historically, I have not always been good at keeping up a blog, but I intend to update this blog whenever I have something to share. I hope you enjoy and, if you're so inclined, feel free to join in on the discussion.