Friday, September 28, 2007

An Amazing Day of Music!!

So yesterday I had some quite awesome experiences. To start with, I was in Elliot Magaziner's Office during my normal time (he's the conductor, I'm the orchestra manager) & my friend comes over to chill. So we're looking through past programs and music that the conductor had. First of all, there were some amazing orchestral programs in the past (he's been there for about 40 years or so now). There were programs where they did all of Carnival of the Animals, or had Shostakovitch & Mahler on the same program... I wish we could do things of that caliber in orchestra now...

2 exciting discoveries came out of this:

1. A set of duets for cello & violin where the cello part is mostly in treble cleff. My teacher is going to coach it next semester & had a few other ideas of things we could wok on.
2. Copies of the "From the New World" When it was Symphony No. 5 (apparently they discovered back in the 70s that there were some more in between 4 & the rest...)

So that was really cool. On top of that, I had a neat lesson. Since we've gone through the 1st 2 Bach Suites in my previous 3 lessons, and the rest of the music on my recital is basically chamber music, we took a bit of a different direction this time. We worked on technique, first doing octave shifts & concentrating on alignment, then coming up with the idea of doing octave double stops, which is quite cool. Then my teacher introduced me to the "nail that pitch in thumb position" game, and said that I should do that while practicing to really solidify my pitch in that register and to develop reference points. After that (or maybe it was before all this), we worked on Popper 11, which I did pretty well on considering that I haven't looked at it in weeks. We talked about some of the harmony in it & the practice methods for it (doing it *really* slowly for intonation & hand position) & right hand technique, which involved a loose wrist, jumping off the strings with the elbow of the bow hand for string skips & having firm fingers. So basically it was a cool & somewhat more relaxed, but still instructional lesson. Now I have all this work to do on Bach, and I still need to learn my piece that I'm rehearsing to night for cello/clarinet (it's an original work by Jen Castellano)...

So anyway, here's the amazing part. My friend Andrew (from earlier) & I go up to Pleasantville to see Brian Skarstad to get our bows rehaired. To start off, he's an amazing violin maker - really knows his stuff & is quite cool. We talk about music and stuff for a bit, I recommended Break of Reality to him. Then he asks us if we want to see something cool... He pulls out a violin from a crappy plastic case & says "This is Paganini's Violin". I asked him how he could possibly know that (and of course was wondering how it's in Pleasantville, NY of all places, instead of... um, Italy!). He pulls out this book with pictures of rare violins & looks it up in there. Sure enough, it had the same markings and patterns and all that. Here's some pictures of it . So after that amazing experience, we talked a bit more, gave him our bows to rehair, and I went home & started looking up Paganini... I wish I could play some of his music, because he would have so many interesting stories for program notes... I'd say maybe I could shoot for one of the caprices for next year, but I'm not sure I'd believe it.

After that, I practiced for about 3 hours straight... well, probably about an hour/hour and a half was experimenting with alignment, which was quite productive. The rest was slow practice spent on the Allemande from the 2nd Bach suite & on technique (I'm evolving my previous method):

1. Play a barred fifth in tempo with the following rhythms - 1 Quarter, 2 8th, 3 Triplets, 4 Sixteenths ... basically working on subdivisions of 1, 2, 3 & 4 ... I'm going to add in quintuplets, sextuplets, septuplets & 32nd notes eventually, which should prove quite challenging even at slow tempos.
2. Repeat the above, only change the interval from a P5 to a M6 - great for intonation/hand position & callous building.

Afterwards, while I was reading stories about Paganini, I became inspired to start writing music & wrote the intro to what I think is going to be a suite for solo cello... I really want to start to work some writing for flute into my stuff soon too...

That's all for now... dress rehearsal that I'm not ready for today & then a performance on sunday - Then I have 5 days to have all my recital material perfect!! Also, playing at a memorial service for a teacher who passed away last year...

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