Friday, July 31, 2009

Summit Day 5-7


Hopefully I'll be able to remember most of this ... I haven't had any time to get on a computer lately ... I've been trying to really practice (and also trying to beat out Alma who so far seems to be practicing more than me ... I've been getting about 3 hrs. a day ... today I got 3.5

So here's a recap:

Tuesday (Day 5):
Tuesday I practiced all morning (3 hrs), then there was the Adam Kent Masterclass, which was disappointingly less interesting than his lecture, but still fairly cool. Can't say I remember much about it at this point ...

Then later there was the Young Artists concert, which featured a former Summit participant named Kristin Stephenson. She was a Juilliard graduate & seemed like a cool person. I enjoyed her performance & I probably should have chatted w/ her a bit & asked her what she thought of being a classical pianist & how it compared to her epxpectations & other stuff ... I was a bit out of it at the time or something.

In the evening was Suren Bagratuni & Max Mainolfi's concert ... this was all kinds of cool ... Suren is an amazing cellist & has the left hand technique I want to develop (which is so exciting ... there's so few cellists I see who really bring that out for me) ... Mr. O is another who has that ... I funortunately don't have the program on me & can't remember what he played at this point, but it was amazing. Apparently he studied w/ Danilli Schafran a lot, which was interesting, given how much Steven Isserlis idolizes Schafran ... cool little connection. This concert was particularly important for me for two reasons. First, because I was reminded that you are in fact allowed to lift your thumb off the neck & that it is sometimes beneficial. Two, because it reminded me of how important it is to use the fleshy part of your fingertipe to really get a good tone & nice, wide vibrato - this is the way I used to play back when I was really practicing in high school & I've started incorporating it into my slow scales & it's made a huge difference.

Wednesday (Day 6):
Busy day!

I only managed to get in 2 hrs. of practice, b/c I had rehearsal & then my performance for the 3rd movement of the Beethoven Op. 11 ... I played pretty horribly, b/c I wasn't feeling well that day, which really sucks, because I generally have this abundant self-confidence & sense of fun about performance, and instead I was depressed... I just kinda needed another day or at least a few hours with the piece too ... At one point I looked up & noticed David Krieger was there, which was cool, but also makes me nervous ... that's good though. If I had been playing better, I wouldn't have been nervous ... on the other hand, by the end of this festival, I'll be in such good shape that I could play that piece really well. My playing has already improved a lot, though I've been really pushing myself too. It also clicked in my head that I practice scales w/ slurs too much & not enough w/ separate bows - this is part of why my bowing technique isn't good.

Then there was the Rosand masterclass & the Tcheckmazov masterclass ... given that I'm not really crazy about Aaron Rosand, I decided to go to the cello masterclass ... the only reason I stayed was because I actually wanted to hear everybody who was playing ... Cyntia played Bach 3, Inna's other student played the Breval sonata & the little kid w/ the orange case played Haydn C. I really did not like his teaching ... he taught almost solely by rote & dictated interpretation. Those are two things that really bother me, because they are not giving the student the tools they need to progress on their own. I'm ok w/ guiding interpretation & sharing information & asking pointed questions, but not telling people how to play - that's their decision. The only useful things I got out of the class were that I finally understand what the hell people are talking about with Figure 8 bowing (it is also the way David Krieger explained it to me, though he didn't use that term), and he mentioned using weight w/ the first finger on the bow & that was just a good reminder. One thing that was interesting was when Checkamazov played something on Cyntia's cello ... the difference in sound was incredible ... it's amazing how much difference an instrument can make ... I wonder how much better I might sound if I had a better instrument... (not that I'm complaining about the one I have) ... speaking of which, Bernie mentioned letting me try a Carbon Fibre cello that someone gave him ... can't wait to do that once Summit's over.

Then, there was the Student Gala concert, which I had heard most of the pieces on from attending the masterclasses ... though the last girl (and one of the youngest) was absolutely incredible. Not only did she play her piece flawlessly, but she was practically dancing on stage while doing it & really looked like she was having fun to a level that we generally don't while doing classical music. It really made me smile.

The 8:00 concert was 1/2 a Russian Pianist (who clearly used to be really amazing, but has very unfortunately hit a point where her age is interfering with her playing ... she was still pretty damn good though & I thought she had a great sense of dynamics & volume & managed to do a lot w/ loudness in a way that most people can't). The other half was a Brahms Trio w/ Adam Kent, Jeff Solo & Elena Peres ... according to Adam it was the first & last trio he wrote (Brahms revised it) & was all kinds of cool ... I've heard it somewhere before & I'd love to play it someday.

Thursday (Day 7)
Today was busy & fun!

I got in 3.5 hrs of practice (a half hour short of what I was shooting for ... I forgot my rock stop & my bloody cello kept slipping, so I gave up at the end...). I got to practicing later than I wanted, because I had to pick up strings for Anna, but that's alright... So I practiced, then helped w/ check-in, which involved hanging out w/ Alma, Maria, Alessandra & Jessica & showing folks to their room as they showed up ... it was great getting so see some folks from previous years ... it was particularly interesting to see Drew (chamber partner from the first year I did Summit) ... he seems to have grown up a bit, which is good. Also, it was really interesting to see Elliot ... he lost a *lot* of weight & seems generally very happy and all. He's studying w/ David Soyer at Juilliard atm...

I skipped orientation to practice a bit, then had dinner, then went to the concert, which I was somewhat surprisingly disappointed by. Nathaniel Rosen was the performer & the entire first half seemed very off - like he wasn't in control or like he wasn't warmed up or something of that sort. It got better as he went ... also, the Hindemith concerto is kind of an iffy piece for me. The second half, he played Bach 4 (which I was not thrilled about ... it's hard to watch people play bach though ... it's so individual, but he really just made a very bizarre way through it - from my perspective). Then he played this really cool Granados piece (is there any uncool Granados piece? That name makes me want to go watch that Jackie documentary). He also did the Fire Dance for an encore ... that was cool too.

Afterwards, I trained Amery to do the lights (and am hoping to get a 3rd person) & that's the story for now. I've gotten over most of the social anxiety/insecurity I was feeling in the first few days & seem to be fitting in generally pretty well & practicing a good amt. & Summit's been very therapeutic in terms of giving me reasons to smile & giving me the chance to talk with a lot of new folks about my schooling and where I am in life now & all that ... I need to find more folks I feel generally comfortable talking to ... Jenny Wu was great for that (particularly, b/c she was 30 and had a PhD, so was very mature) ... it's too bad she's not here for the rest of the festival ...

Anyway, sleep time ... have to be up in less than 7 hours for orchestra (which I'm excited for!)

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