Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summit Day 4

A busy & productive day!

I was pretty energetic early in the day (thankfully!)

Had practice w/ Jenny, then coaching w/ Flora ... David couldn't make it ... but we got the part between us pretty squared away.

Afterwards, we went to lunch & then to the cello masterclass, which was all kinds of cool. The teacher was this amazing cellist from Armenia (though I think he lives in detroit now or something). Leonard played Bach 3, Cyntia played Saint-Saens & the other girl played Bach 3. It was a real treat getting to watch Cyntia, because even though her piece has a long way to go, she's made a huge improvement since last year in her playing, which is great!

After that, I got in a small amount of practice, and then there was the Composer's Roundtable. A fairly interesting, but poorly attended event (it was competing with dinner unfortunately). For me the most interesting parts were hearing the polytones (is that the name for it) in Geoff. Kidde's piece (this technique was originally invented by Robert Dick), and hearing the difference in the 2 orchestrations of Mary-Anne Joyce's piece (which I got to keep a copy of). She described her music as a film score without a film & it was really cool, because I had that exact same thought as I was listening to it. These people are my former teachers as well, so it was great to get to talk with them before & after. Binette Liper presented as well & then there was a Q&A afterwards. I tried to ask questions that I thought would be interesting for folks/that would stimulate discussion ... tricky considering the lack of people though. Another interesting point was Geoff. Kidde's point about modern music. He said that he would tell people to let go of their expectations & just try listening to the sounds. It's weird for me, because I actually get a lot of modern classical music ... it just makes sense to me (which doesn't mean I like it all) ... maybe it's because I started so late, so I didn't get trapped in the Common Practice/Romantic sound-world. Maybe not. This event plus the original music from last night has motivated me to compose another solo cello piece soon ... I'm looking forward to it whenever it's ready to come out!

After that, I decided to skip dinner (because I was still full from lunch & had food in my backpack) & got in a little bit of practicing before Adam Kent's concert lecture. I think the concert lecture format - particularly the way he does it - is probably the best way to present classical music. or at least talking about the piece prior to playing it. It really gets you into it & gives you the opportunity to see things you never saw before, even on a first listen. I was really shocked when an older audience member started talking about the harmony in her comments - I just do not listen that well on a first listen in live music. Though part of the reason for this is because I often listen emotionally as opposed to intellectually to live music (though I suppose it's possible to do both). His lecture was all kinds of cool: combining history with musical storyline & theoretical analysis. Reminds me a lot of Steven Isserlis, though Isserlis is more charismatic & compelling for me (probably because he's British!).

In practicing, I improved a lot, but during Adam Kent's lecture, I had a bit of a breakthrough - I finally found a meaning of my own for the second prelude. This was because somebody asked about the balance between emotions & interpretation, and also because he was talking about Schubert's "My Dream" story & about his sense of isolation. One of the things I go through whenever I do Summit (and in general, whenever I'm in a new environment) is social pressure/a sense of isolation from others. I take a bit to feel comfortable & like I belong within a group - particularly when part of what determines your status within these groups is how musically skilled you are .. I'm definitely on the lower end of that. But I realized the 2nd prelude could be summed up in the word "Longing" for me ... and particularly the VNV Nation lyric "my restless soul is longing" from the song Beloved came to mind. I read through the rest of the suite ... the Prelude & Allemande are in decent shape & any of the others are do-able (in terms of preparing for a masterclass). Haven't decided which third movement I'm gonna pick, but I'm thinking of the Gigue. The courante or Sarabande might be better, because I need more help with them ... not sure.

The other big breakthrough I've been having with my playing is in regards to bow distribution & precision & technique. I've been improving worlds on that. I also started practicing the Bb major scale instead of my recent usual C# Phrygian). This has the advantage that in order to do 3 octaves, I have to go all the way up the fingerboard. Also, it matches the pieces I'm playing. On top of that, I did some shifting exercises & worked on holding the bow out for 15 counts at 1/4=40.

That's where I'm at right now ... If I can find the time at any point, I'm gonna type up masterclass notes, but as of right now, I don't have it ... I might have to type them all up after the festival.

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