Snowstorm in Beantown

I'm back in Muncie after a very exciting and snow-filled adventure on the East Coast. I can hardly believe that only a week ago at this time I was getting ready to perform at Boston University. It already feels like a month has gone by since then!! It's amazing how much STUFF you can pack into a week, such that it feels so very much longer.

My adventure to Boston began with a canceled flight (due to a gargantuan snow storm). I ended up arriving nearly two days later than originally anticipated, which made rehearsals compressed and a bit stressful. I'm SO glad Ketty and I performed the same program in Muncie last month. Because of that, we were able to put together a very convincing recital in almost no time. Usually I like to take a performance day easy, but I didn't have the chance to do that here (or in Colorado the prior week, incidentally), and though it was difficult to get on stage after a long day, I managed in both places, and I think performed quite well. I'm very happy with how the recital went. And I even got to see some wonderful old friends, and make some new ones. Unfortunately, we neglected to take a picture after the recital. Sheesh. Here's one from downtown, though.

Being back home was surreal and wonderful. I guess it really isn't home anymore, but I will always have a very large place in my heart for Boston. It's a wonderful city, full of culture, life, adventures, and history. If you haven't been, I heartily suggest you go at some point (though, wait for Spring!). It was fun to see the way the city has developed, and the ways in which it has stayed the same. A lot changed in nine years, but it still very much has that same Boston vibe I remember from when I lived there. It was so great to be back, even in the super cold, and the sidewalks filled with dirty, slushy, snow.

On Monday afternoon, I had the wonderful experience of teaching a master class at Boston University. I worked with three graduate students, and got some very positive feedback about my teaching (including an email from one of the students a few days later). Yay! And then, to finish out my Beantown adventure, I had dinner with my very first viola teacher, Michelle LaCourse. How wonderful to see her again!! We chatted about everything from viola to work to houses to life, and it was just fantastic. To be able to share a meal with someone who has had a direct impact on how your entire life turned out, is pretty amazing. I owe so very very much to Michelle.

A big huge thank you to Ketty Nez for organizing this amazing adventure. I am so fortunate to be in a profession where so many people are excited about what they do, and are interested in collaborating and taking on logistically-complicated endeavors. Most times they end up leading to exciting and musically-fulfilling experiences. Thank you Ketty!!!! And thank you Michelle!! And to my super awesome friend, Kiera, with whom I stayed-- it was so much fun.

Now it's back to the regular grind for a few weeks. Coming up next: the ASTA conference in Pittsburg!! I'm collaborating with five others to present a pre-conference workshop on the day before the conference officially begins, and then get to enjoy the conference before finally relaxing during Spring Break. Phew! I've packed a lot into the first part of this semester, for sure!

Happy practicing!

Homeward Bound

I'm writing from the Houston airport. Had I known the Superbowl was going to be played here tomorrow, I probably wouldn't have booked a ticket home that takes me through IAH. But, here I am, and I had the happy accident of running in to Nick Kendall and Ranaan Meyer of Time for Three, so that was fun. I have one of those lack-of-sleep colds, though, and that is not fun. It started in Colorado, and only got worse at we traveled to California. Our already late-night flight was delayed, so we didn't get in to our hotel until 3 AM Friday morning! Somehow we managed to play a really good recital last night anyway. Then this morning I had to get up at 4:45 AM to catch the Super Shuttle back to the airport. It's been a grueling schedule, but the music-making has been totally worth it.

Playing really good music with really good musicians in wonderful spaces really can't be beat. Last night was especially lovely. We played in the Fireside Room at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto. It smelled like cedar, and there were a lot of young people, who were all very well-behaved and clearly engaged in the music, in the audience. It was fantastic. Our second performance was much stronger than the first (which, in all honestly, also went pretty well!), and we were all sad that we didn't have a third and fourth concert to really blow it out of the park! But, we had a wonderful time together, and I hope we'll be able to do a repeat tour (with more sleep) in the future.

Here we are after our two concerts.

It was wonderful to play again with Patricia Surman, and to meet and work with Jooeun Pak, who is a phenomenal pianist. What a wonderful week. I just need to get healthy in the next few days, as I travel to Boston on Thursday, and the adventure continues.

Phew! It's a busy start to the semester for sure!

Happy practicing!

Chamber Music in Colorado and California

In my last post I wrote about going to Boston in the second week of February. I'm still really excited about that (particularly to see friends and make fantastic music!), but before then, I have a little more traveling to do... On Tuesday I'm heading to Denver, Colorado, where I'll collaborate with the amazing Dr. Patricia Surman, with whom I was in school at the University of North Texas. We're going to be performing trios for flute, viola, and piano, along with Dr. Jooeun Pak, with whom I'm very much looking forward to collaborating. Our recital is on Wednesday, 1 February at 7:30 at the King Center (755 Lawrence Drive) of Metropolitan State University of Denver. The following day, the three of us will fly to San Francisco, and give the recital again on February 3rd in the Fireside Room at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto (505 E Charleston Roard), in Palo Alto, CA.

My concertizing this semester has gotten me thinking about how far I've come since my student days. Back then (and as most students still do), I would work on a piece for a semester or longer, meeting several times a week with my chamber group and getting weekly coachings and other feedback. Now I have one to three rehearsals, and boom, a concert. It's kind of crazy, but also really cool. It's so satisfying to have gotten to a point where you can meet up with other professional musicians, work hard for a few hours, then give a convincing and emotional performance. It's empowering to realize that I've truly made it to "the other side of the desk" (as I like to describe being a professional, instead of a student).

It reminds me of a rehearsal I attended several years ago. It was when I was still living in Denton, TX, and I learned that Kim Kashkashian was going to be giving a trio recital at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. I had a gig the night of the concert, so I emailed Kim and asked if I could attend a rehearsal instead, to which she agreed. I don't recall all of the pieces on the program (or even the other performers!), but they were performing the Debussy Trio (for flute, viola, and harp). I sat quietly in the audience, and listened carefully to the exchanges the musicians had with each other, talking about phrasing and various musical ideas, and the quick pace at which they rehearsed and fixed any small problems. It was so enthralling, I decided it was worth it to get a parking ticket (I was only able to put 2 hours on the meter), and stayed for the entire rehearsal, which I think lasted about 3 hours, though to me it seemed to fly past. I distinctly remember the feeling I had as I walked back to my car. It felt like I'd been a part of a really special musical moment in time. I learned so much from the way the musicians interacted, and the things they said to each other and how that changed the music they were making. It was absolutely fascinating, and I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from Kim and her companions. I was truly inspired, and moved by the power of good music made by exceptional musicians. I strongly urge you to attend rehearsals of amazing musicians, if you are able. There's so much to learn, and on a completely different level than what you get from attending concerts.

I hope those of you in the Denver and Bay Areas will join me and my friends for one of our concerts next week. Happy practicing!

Boston Calling

Yay! The recital went pretty darn well! We got a lot of compliments about Amelia Kaplan's piece, and I felt pretty darn good about the Nez and Shostakovich. I realized half way through the first movement of the Shostakovich that we hadn't closed the piano lid to half-stick, and started worrying about my projection. It was hard to shake the feeling that the piano was overpowering me (as was the case in the dress rehearsal, which is why we decided to perform it with half-stick). After our dress rehearsal performance on Friday evening, I was so overcome by the emotion of the piece, that I couldn't help but cry. For good (I didn't end up looking like a blubbering mess with racoon eyes on stage) or bad (perhaps I wasn't as emotionally involved?), that didn't happen last night. It also turns out that my video camera's battery died during the third movement, so there's a chunk missing from when my videographer was changing the battery. Oye!

BUT, overall, I'm really happy with the recital. I'm even more happy I get to do it again in Boston in a month! That's right folks-- in a few weeks I'll pack up and head back to my old stomping grounds. Ketty and I will perform the same recital on Saturday February 11th at 8 PM in the Boston University College of Fine Arts Concert Hall. That's the same stage on which I performed my senior recital, back in December 2002. In a funny twist of fate, on that concert I performed the Shostakovich Sonata for the first time. It's going to be amazing to go back with several more performances and a year or two (wink) of life and playing experience under my belt. I'm obviously a much stronger player now than I was at the end of my undergraduate years (plus, at that point I'd only been playing viola for about two years!), and I'm so looking forward to coming back to my alma mater. I hope those of you that are in the general Boston area will be able to come. It would be so amazing to see old friends again! I'll also be teaching a masterclass on Monday February 13th from 2-4. I don't know where yet, but I'll fill you in once I know.

Before Boston, I have a bit more traveling to do, but I'll write about that in another post. In the meantime, I hope you'll listen to the audio recording I just added to my Listen page. It's of Daniel Sitler's solo viola piece, Mirage/Deluge, that he composed for me and I premiered on my September recital. You can read my blog post about that here. Enjoy!

Recital Tomorrow

Happy 2017 everyone! The first week of classes at BSU is nearly finished, and December and the holiday break flew by. I can hardly believe my last post was in November-- oops. This academic year, it's been harder to blog regularly, even though I have tons to write about. But it's a new semester and calendar year, and a new opportunity to stay connected.

Tomorrow is my recital! I'm so thrilled to be working again with the exceptional Ketty Nez, whom I met last year at Ball State's New Music Festival. She flew in from Boston on Wednesday, and we've been rehearsing up a storm. In addition to premiering a viola version of Ketty's work, sea-changes, we are also premiering a "slippery and weird" piece Amelia Kaplan wrote for us. Titled Superviola 3.0, it's completely different than what I'm used to, with all kinds of effects and time signature changes nearly every measure, so it really keeps us on our toes. Even the piano is prepared! There are a lot of very cool (and weird!) sounds going on.

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We'll finish the recital on a sombre note, with the Viola Sonata by Dmitri Shostakovich. It is one of my absolute favorite works, and I am so thrilled to be able to share it with you tomorrow evening. Please come out and hear us play! The concert is free, as always, in Sursa Hall at 7:30 PM.

Happy practicing!