Dr. McLeod, an exploration of Sound, and the Hibiki Trio's Final Concert

Last week I had the pleasure of welcoming our last guest artist to the Meidell studio for this academic year. Dr. Alex McLeod, whom I met at the American Viola Society conference last summer, came to Muncie and gave a fascinating presentation on how our instruments make sound (as in, the science of it all!). Then he proceeded to guide the studio in an exploration of the extremes,  playing with bow speed, contact point, arm weight, and how much hair was on the string. These are the four contributing factors to sound production (which a friend of mine cleverly calls SWAP: Speed, Weight, Angle (as in, is your hair flat or angled towards the scroll?), and Placement). I've been teaching SWAP forever, but hearing about the string theory and watching my students' faces as we explored sound was really fun. It's always nice to get a different take on really important information. Unfortunately we neglected to take any pictures (d'oh!), but I hope it won't be my last collaboration with Dr. McLeod! Here's a video Alex uses that I find absolutely fascinating. It's a bowed string that's been slowed down a lot, so you can really see the way the string moves. Fascinating stuff.

Then on Friday the Hibiki Trio had a performance, which went quite well. We had a very large audience, and they all seemed to really love our program. We performed a Telemann Trio Sonata, Takemitsu's And Then I Knew 'Twas Wind, a beautiful Irish Lullaby by Ian Krouse, and a really excellent transcription of Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun. Surprisingly, the orchestral work sounds quite good with only three instruments. The Krouse was a real hit amongst my students (maybe because it starts with a melancholy viola solo??), so I'm very glad we played it.

Sadly, it turns out this was the last Hibiki Trio concert. Circumstances beyond my control have come to pass, and we will no longer be performing together. I'm really broken up about it, but there's nothing, apparently, I can do. Thanks to everyone who has supported our trio these last years. I've had a blast exploring the surprisingly sizable repertoire for flute, viola, and harp (who knew?!), and making music with this gorgeous instrument combination.

Till next time, happy practicing.