Poznań, Part 2

Today was my first full day in Poznań, and it was awesome! Spencer, Nicholas, and I (see yesterday's post if you don't know who I'm writing about) started with an adventure to find coffee and breakfast. After a few no-gos (what coffee shop doesn't open till 8 AM on a weekday?!) on this drizzly morning, we finally found a lovely spot for coffee. So we had coffee, but not breakfast, and then as we wandered on, eventually found a lovely place where we each had more coffee AND breakfast. We then took an Uber to the Academy, where I went to rehearse with the pianist with whom I'll play the Clarke Shorter Pieces for Viola and Piano on tomorrow's concert, and afterwards I watched British violist Louise Lansdown teach in master class for a bit. There were a number of lectures that I missed in the morning, but it was okay because they were all in Polish! While I am adept at Russian, the languages are not nearly close enough for me to be able to catch what is being discussed in Polish. I can understand a word or phrase here and there, but definitely not communicate. But I did get to enjoy Spencer Martin's lecture on Lilian Fuchs (which was in English). That was a wonderful way to end the morning, listening to an amazing woman play amazing viola!

After that, we had lunch with Marcin at the Academy cafeteria (and the food was really quite decent for a cafeteria!), and then Spencer taught 5 students in master class. Marcin and I observed, and I was impressed with everything Spencer had to share with the students. It puts me in a slightly funny situation, because I'll hear a lot of the same students tomorrow afternoon, and had I been teaching them today, I would have talked about just about all of the same things Spencer did today! So, we'll see what that leaves for to talk about tomorrow. ;)

After that, Marcin showed us (and let us play) his fantastic new viola, and then we headed over to Willa wśród Róż Salon Nowowiejskiego (say that 5 times in a row quickly!), where we had the Viola Potpourri recital, as it could have been called. Six of the faculty at the Viola Forum performed. I played the Hindemith 1937 Solo Sonata and closed the concert with Spencer Martin as we performed Scott Slapin's Nocture in Memory of Richard Lane. Before my Hindemith, Spencer played an enchanting rendition of Lillian Fuchs' Sonata Pastorale. It was an all solo-viola recital (that also included a world premiere, works by Michael Kimber, and the Bridge Lament for Two Violas), and it was awesome.

What's funny is, I was really nervous about performing on this recital. But once I got there and saw the gorgeous space and realized that I wasn't playing in front of a bunch of competitors, but in front of a bunch of colleagues, it became a lot less scary, and overall I'm happy with how I performed. The Hindemith is not an easy piece, and I did not play perfectly, but I think given the extreme about of STUFF that has been going on in my life (and thus the terribly stunted practice time I've experienced lately), it went quite well. The audience responded well, and I find myself coming back to a phrase Spencer shared yesterday, "trust in your preparation." Since I prepared as best I could, I played as best as could be expected under the circumstances.

After the concert, Spencer, Nicholas, and I had the most memorable dinner I've ever experienced. Intrigued? Well, come back tomorrow to learn all about it. It's nearly midnight and I have to be up early again tomorrow for more viola-ing! What a wonderful life I have!

Happy practicing!

Poznan, Poland!

Greetings from beautiful Poznan, Poland! I am here to participate in the International Viola Forum, hosted by none other than Marcin Murawski. You might remember him from my Kimber Love Fest blog post?

I arrived here this afternoon, and Marcin greeted me at the airport. The weather is simply gorgeous and the temperature is just right! We zipped off to gather more Forum guests, but got stopped by a marathon that was happening down town. Marcin zipped around the city until we were able to approach the train station from the other side, and soon we met Spencer Martin and his pianist collaborator, Nicholas Shaneyfelt, who both teach at Luther College in Iowa. The four of us then continued on, and Marcin gave us a brief tour of the city before he took us to our downtown accommodations. We are staying in the heart of the city, in the Academy's housing. So while the dorm room isn't exactly a five-star hotel, it has everything I need, and is in a spectacular location. There's even free WiFi.

After we dropped off our things, we wandered to the city center, where Marcin gave us some history lessons about Poznan, and finally we sat down to a traditional Polish meal. Nicholas took an amazing photo of our meal, but I don't have that yet. I'll share when I do.

We finished eating hours ago, and I am still completely stuffed. Perhaps I won't event need breakfast tomorrow! ;)

After lunch, I practiced a bunch, and Spencer and I ran a duo that we're performing tomorrow. It's Scott Slapin's Nocturne in Memory of Richard Lane, and it's gorgeous. Tomorrow morning I am going to rehearse with a pianist, because on Tuesday evening she and I will perform Rebecca Clarke's Shorter Pieces for Viola and Piano. Before that though, I also have the pleasure of performing Hindemith's 1937 Solo Sonata on tomorrow night's concert.

I am very happy to be here, and looking forward to performing and collaborating and teaching, but I must admit, it has been difficult to get my pieces ready for performance, given all of the craziness happening at home, what with getting ready to sell my house and move to Georgia and everything. But I feel good about how I practiced this afternoon, and hope I get a good night's sleep that will help me play my best tomorrow.

Until then, happy practicing!

Schwob School of Music

A few weeks ago, an amazing opportunity presented itself. I was offered a position at the Schwob School of Music in Columbus, Georgia. It's a conservatory within a public university (Columbus State University), with beautiful facilities and amazing students, faculty, and administration. The school is located in the heart of Columbus' charming downtown area, and I am very pleased to announce that I accepted the offer. I will begin teaching at Schwob in Fall 2018.

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I will always be grateful for the years I've had at Ball State, and the many experiences that have gotten me to this next chapter in my life. I wouldn't be the musician or pedagogue I am today had it not been for BSU, so many many thanks Ball State. I will miss my  colleagues and friends and insanely amazing students (so so much!), but I very much look forward to this new challenge.

I'll have more to say about all of this as the semester draws to a close, but for now it's on to business as usual. If you're around Muncie and looking to hear some new music tonight, come on out to Sursa Hall this evening at 7:30 for the second concert of the 48th Annual Festival of New Music. Violet will premiere a work by BSU composer Dr. Amelia Kaplan, and I will perform a work with the BSU Women's Chorus, conducted by Dr. Kerry Glann. It's going to be a great concert. Free and open to the public, as always!

Happy practicing!

Avoidance.

I've been avoiding starting to learn one of the pieces that was written for Violet. I looked at is back in the summer when we first got the music, decided it was going to be really hard to learn, put in a few basic fingerings and bowings, and then put it away. And every time I went to practice over the last few months I've thought to myself, "I really need to start looking at X," and then would decide there were more pressing things to practice.

Well-- I really can't avoid it any longer, as the time for performance is coming up. So this morning, after changing my strings and doing a good warm up (and lots and lots of tuning!), I finally picked up The Piece. 

And then I found myself wanting to do what many young practicers do-- I wanted to start at the beginning. See, the beginning isn't all that hard, and it's pretty, and I know it, so why not play that? But my professor brain took over and I actually said to myself out loud (somewhat starting my sleeping pup), "No, Katrin. That's not the part you need to practice," and I flipped to where things start getting really squirly, and started working.

The funny thing is, I practiced a few lines for about 15 minutes, and by the end they sounded BOATLOADS better, and certainly weren't as hard as I'd made them out to be.

It's pretty amazing the things we tell ourselves, and the power they have. "This piece is really hard." No wonder I waited months to start learning it. And now that I've finally gotten going, I find it to be a challenge, but not impossible, and with just a bit of work every day, I'll definitely be able to perform this well by the concert.

To think I could have avoided months of angst over the piece by just tackling it. Silly me.

Happy practicing.

Toronto

This morning, Elizabeth Crawford and I left Muncie in a very nice Ford Fusion owned by Ball State, and drove all the way to Toronto, Canada! It was a long drive, but with good company it went by as quickly as such a drive can.

Violet is performing tomorrow night (February 2) with the Ton Beau String Quartet, which is based here in Toronto. I met the violist, Alex McLeod, a few years ago at an American Viola Society Festival, and we've been in touch about various projects since then. He came to BSU last year and gave a fascinating presentation about sound production, and now Libby and I are here to collaborate with his quartet.

Sarah Steeves, the cellist in the quartet, has been very gracious in letting me and Libby stay with her. We've enjoyed a nice evening of chatting and tea. Just now, as I was getting some water, I noticed a lovely note on her fridge.

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With a welcome like that, how can we not have a good time while in Canada?

Violet will perform two of the works we did on our recital last week, Jenni Brandon's Shades of Violet, and Antonio Gervasoni's Pandora's Box. We will also premiere Muncie Mix, composed for us by American composer Daniel Adams. The Ton Beau Quartet will perform Riho Esko Maimets' Sanctus for String Quartet, and I will join them for a movement of Mozart's K. 515 Viola Quintet, and Libby will join them for a movement of Mozart's Clarinet Quintet. It's going to be a lot of fun. If you happen to be in the Toronto area, please come join us! The concert is at 8 PM at the Agricola Finnish Lutheran Church, which looks like a very beautiful space in which to make music.

Happy practicing!