Over the weekend, I had the immense pleasure of traveling to Morgantown, West Virginia, where Professor Andrea Priester Houde and I relived Viola Day... But this time she was the host and I was the guest! It was an amazing day. She runs her Day differently than I do mine, and I got some good ideas that I'm going to try to incorporate next year. If you're curious as to what they are, you'll just have to wait till next year's Ball State Viola Day. :)
The drive to West Virginia was a bit unpleasant, as it rained almost the entire way, but once I got into the Appalachian Mountains, I didn't mind so much. Little bits of fog hung between the rolling, green hills, and it was quite beautiful. I arrived in Morgantown and went straight to the Creative Arts Center, where I met with pianist Sun Jung Lee. We rehearsed Brahms and Clarke, which went quite well considering I hadn't played viola at all that day and had been driving for six hours!
Viola Day itself was wonderful. I taught a master class in the morning, then was able to watch the amazing Dr. Timothy Deighton teach. I hadn't met Tim before, but after just a brief meeting, I felt him to be a kindred spirit. Very quickly we were making jokes and throwing fun-loving jibes at each other. That's the thing about viola players-- we really are laid back, collegial, and fun! Especially with Andrea in the mix, I think maybe the viola professors had the most fun at West Virginia University's Viola Day!
After lunch, we visited vendors and I bought a new shoulder rest on a whim. It seemed to have a resonating effect on my viola, but I still need to play with it some more to be sure. The highlight of the Day was playing with Tim, Andrea, and Andrea's doctoral student, Ignacio-- we performed a quartet for four violas (available on the AVS Scores page for free!) composed by Mattias Durst and edited by David Bynog. Seriously, folks-- four accomplished violists making music beautiful together has got to be one of the most amazing sounds in the world. It was so much fun! I think one of Andrea's students recorded the performance, and if so, I look forward to hearing it.
And now it's back to Muncie Madness. In less than two weeks I will perform the Bartók Concerto with the Flower Mound Symphony Orchestra in Texas. It feels like there aren't enough hours in the week, especially when so many of them are filled with such amazing camaraderie and music!
Happy practicing, y'all. Happy practicing indeed!