The last few weeks have been very busy-- so much so I sometimes wonder what I've forgotten or over-looked. I am pretty good about keeping track of things, but these days there are simply SO many things going on, I can't help but wonder if I haven't dropped the ball somewhere. But so far, if I have, no one has told me! So I guess that's a good sign, phew!

Today was a concert day. After teaching a productive lesson on intonation, I drove my quintet colleagues Anna Vayman and Nataliya Nizahalova to Taylor University, in Upland. We had the good fortune of performing our big chamber concert (which is on Sunday at 3 in Sursa Hall) at Taylor first today. There was a good number of people in the audience, and it was great to perform these pieces we've been working on intensely for these past weeks. It was also to play them back-to-back, as both pieces are quite physically demanding.

I have not performed the Shostakovich piano quintet until now, but it is such an intense and expressive piece, and I really enjoy it. Originally conceived as a string quartet, Shostakovich recomposed for the piano quintet and toured the work with the Beethoven Quartet. Apparently they performed it more than 75 times! While we don't have Shostakovich at the piano, we have Robert Palmer, who is a delight to play with. He and Anna and Peter Opie form the American Piano Trio, and it is great to play with my colleagues again (we collaborated last year). It's also fun to play with Nataliya, who is primarily a violinist, but also studies viola with me. She gave a stellar viola recital a few weeks back!

After the Shostakovich, Nataliya and Robert left the stage, and the rest of us were joined by Joel Braun, Ball State's stellar double bass faculty member. We performed the entire Arensky Quartet op. 35, which is a very difficult and demanding, yet completely gorgeous piece (on last year's chamber concert we performed the second movement, along with a few Albrechtsberger movements). It is an exhausting program, but very rewarding. I'm looking forward to playing it all again on Sunday!

Then this evening, after I got done running errands and such, I had the pleasure of attending tonight's BSSO concert, which was a holiday-themed concert. The orchestra performed Three Dance Episodes from Bernstein's On the Town (it was GREAT!) and then the Jazz Lab Ensemble  came on stage and performed Duke Ellington's Jingle Bells (which was also awesome!). Then the two groups came together for a very unique concert-- the orchestra would perform one movement of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, and then the Jazz Band would perform Duke Ellington's version of the same piece! Ellington was a big fan of Tchaikovsky's work and wanted to do an arrangement of some of his music, and once he learned that the composer didn't object, he and Billy Strayhorn came up with the version I heard tonight (and you can watch it here for the next few weeks if you're so inclined!).

A very rewarding musical day indeed! Happy practicing.