Oh my goodness, today has been fantastic and overwhelming and inspiring, all rolled in to one. I joked to a friend of mine that my brain is swirling with alto clefs! The amount of information I've learned today is astounding. I almost feel like I'm back in school, except every single class is fascinating, and every teacher is incredibly engaging. Definitely the highlight of today was hearing the Jasper String Quartet. As one reviewer was quoted in their bio in the Festival program book, "The Jaspers... match their sounds perfectly, as if each swelling chord were coming out of a single, impossibly well-tuned organ, instead of four distinct instruments" (New Haven Advocate). The reviewer is absolutely correct. The performance was fully engaging, and I was mesmerized throughout. They finished with Brahms' String Quintet op. 111, bringing in guest violist Liz Freivogel (of the Jupiter Quartet, who was at NEC when I was there, many many years ago). The performance was simply magnificent. It's a sure sign of amazing and intimate performance when you don't notice the time slipping past, and once the concert is done you want to stay in the hall and by sheer force of will make the group keep playing. Thankfully they have recordings. :)
In the morning, I heard spectacular playing by 14-18 year old violists. Six incredible young musicians performed in the Senior division of the Solo Competition. It was such a pleasure to hear these violists, all of whom I am sure will have successful musical careers if they keep working the way they currently are. I was inspired by their performances, and it was an honor to be on the judging panel.
I also went to two sessions on little-known works for viola, and am excited to expand my ever-growing collection of sheet music (by the way-- anyone who thinks that there isn't a lot of good viola music out there is absolutely wrong). I also went to a fascinating talk about the physics and mechanics of bow-string interaction, given by Alex McLeod. He showed a video that is completely mind-blowing, and I still need some time to digest the science of what I learned, though thankfully it serves to reinforce what I already know about sound production and quality. The video is really worth watching, all the way to the end. I was taught that the string vibrates in an arc, but that is not so!-- at least not until the bow is no longer on the string. Fascinating!
Tomorrow will be filled with more amazing viola-ness, so I'm off to bed.