Very Good Viola Day

Today has been a very good viola day! I had my first rehearsal with the BSSO for next week's Bartok Concerto performance (which can be streamed live on Thursday 16 October at 7:30 EST here). There were a few rough patches, but we started and ended together, so that's good! The woodwinds sounded especially good on all of their exposed solos, so that was a great relief. It'll be easier to make music feeling confident in the ensemble behind me. I'm not ready to share a video clip (I might share over the weekend, but need to do some more listening first), but here's a photo from this afternoon.

A few hours after rehearsal, my doctoral student Nataliya Nizhalova gave a STELLAR recital! I am so very proud of her. I actually had tears in my eyes as she drew the last note of her Hindemith sonata. Nataliya is a violinist who has been studying viola for one year now, and she truly sounds like a violist. It's been such a pleasure working with her, and to see all of her hard work come to fruition in tonight's recital.

And once I got home I had a slew of packages waiting for me-- potential gowns for next week's show! Fun! While I'm not sure any of them will do, it was fun dressing up and getting James' input on the various dresses. I'll see if I find something more interesting over the weekend, otherwise I might have to recycle a dress I already own-- oh horror! :)

Happy practicing!


Tonight I had the pleasure of performing with the Ball State Symphony Orchestra, led by Maestro Doug Droste and his graduate student, Javier. We performed Vaughn-Williams' Overture to the Wasps, Elgar's Cello Concerto, with Peter Opie, and Elgar's Enigma Variations. I had a lot of fun, I truly did, and it was a great concert!!

It's interesting, because, as a professional musician, I have played with A LOT of different orchestras in my life time. When Doug asked me to help fill in the viola section, I came to rehearsal on Tuesday with a lot on my mind, but figured since I'd played all the pieces except the Vaugh-Williams, it would be okay if I was distracted.

It was a good lesson for me, because I kept making mistakes and quickly realized that, even though we were rehearsing pieces I'd played many times before, I still have to be 100% committed to the rehearsal, and not be distracted by other things. Once I "turned off" the other things running around in my head, I was able to engage more in the rehearsal and not feel like I was there because I HAD to be, but because I enjoy making music! And the rehearsal actually seemed to go by very quickly, because I was engaged and a true participant in the music-making process.

Tonight's concert was really fun. I'm so proud of my freshman student, Iesha Alspaugh, who took on the challenging solos in the Enigma Variations and played wonderfully! And of course Peter Opie sounded amazing! What a fantastic and emotional work. I simply love it. Word on the street is there's a pretty good viola transcription...  :p

It was a wonderful evening, and I left the hall with that feeling you only get after a great performance. Thanks BSSO for letting me make music with you tonight!

Happy practicing.


Muncie Solo

Tonight and tomorrow I am performing with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra again. This time, instead of a pops concert, I am sitting principal for the first classical concert of the season. We are performing Dvorak's Carnival Overture, the Rondo of Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos with young pianists Philip and Oliver Shou, Vaughn-Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and Respighi's Pines of Rome. It's a really excellent concert, with lots and lots of notes!

For me, the most exciting piece on the program is the Vaughn-Williams. See, there are many works in which principal string players have a solo. Generally they fall to the concertmaster or principal cello, though the Respighi has a small viola solo that isn't especially exposed. The Vaughn-Williams, on the other hand, has an EXPOSED viola solo.


See there? At Rehearsal I where it says Solo? Well, Vaughn-Williams means it. The principal viola is the only person playing on stage for a full six measures! Luckily it is not a technically difficult passage (unlike the virtuosic violin solos in Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade), but it does wander, and is a little difficult to make musical sense of. I've never performed this piece, and I am excited about my first shot at it in front of an audience tonight. The solos continue throughout the piece, but with added string quartet, while the rest of the string orchestras (the piece is for two string orchestras) do other things. It's a really beautiful piece, and I am looking forward to tonight's concert!

Happy practicing! 

Muncie Symphony

Last night I rehearsed with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra. I'm subbing as principal viola for this concert, which is a back-to-school extravaganza, featuring the Ball State Marching Band!  The concert is called Picnic and Pops, and will be a really fun, feel-good concert. We're performing a bunch of medleys and finishing off with a really exciting 1812 Overture (composed by Tchaikovsky) complete with marching band! I've never performed with a marching band before, so this is a unique experience. It's fun. I always find pops concerts to be fun-- can't help but enjoy the Beatles medley or playing my favorite swing-era song, Sing Sing Sing!, at the end of the Big Band medley. The concert is outdoors at the Minnetrista Cultural Center in Muncie, and of course, is free.

The MSO has a new conductor this year, Douglas Droste, who also happens to be the new orchestral conductor at Ball State. We went through new faculty orientation together a few weeks ago, so we got to know each other a bit. I think he's really going to make a big difference for the orchestral program here at BSU, PLUS he's a nice guy! It was really fun to play under his baton last night, and I'm looking forward to tonight's concert too. It's always exciting to see a friend excel at their craft. :-) 

Happy practicing! 

Music in Motion

This weekend Lubbock is hosting an Arts Festival. While I haven't had a chance to check out any of the art yet (I hope to tomorrow), I am participating in the festival by performing with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra tonight. The concert is called Music in Motion, and I just found this cute video promoting the concert:

Last night's show was a great success, and I'm looking forward to an even better performance tonight! In addition to Beethoven's Sixth Symphony (Pastorale), the other big piece on the program is the Bartok Divertimento for Strings. It is a difficult piece, and as principal viola, I have quite a few solos-- though none of them longer than a measure or two at a time. It's a really interesting piece that I didn't know until I got the music for this concert, but I really like it!

One of my favorite things about being a professional musician is that there is ALWAYS more music out there! How rewarding!

Happy practicing!