A door closes...

I taught my last lesson at Ball State today.

I am excited about the opportunities my new position at Schwob will bring, and am overall very happy to be moving, but... right now I am quite sad. I will miss my students so very much. These incredible younger people who have opened themselves to me, let me in, and let me share myself and my love of music with them... I will miss them more than I know how to express.

To you, my wonderful young friends-- you have made the last five years of my life so very memorable. Thank you for being such a warm and caring group of students. I will treasure my time with you always.

Happy practicing doesn't feel like the right salutation tonight. So happy memories...

Happy memories.

Poznań, Part 3

Here it is, the LONG AWAITED conclusion to last night's post!

BUT-- before I get to the juicy dinner details, I'd like to tell you about today.

It was a Very Good day. I slept well and through the night (which is always a blessing when traveling overseas and battling jet lag), and woke up to a shower, a coffee at Soho Cafe, and a brisk walk to the Academy. Anna (the pianist) met me there, and we had a very good rehearsal of the Clarke pieces at 9 AM. We were interrupted by The Man Who Sets Up AV Equipment, but that was good too, because it taught me that Poland (and apparently a lot of Europe) is not comfortable with Apple systems. It took a while, but we got to a solution (we thought) that would work with my Mac-based presentation.


I left shortly after the morning lectures started (re-read yesterday's blog-- I do NOT understand Polish!) to find a lovely cafe where I had breakfast. After that, I went back to the Academy and listened to a few Polish lectures (and though I definitely didn't understand everything, I did take some information away from each), until it was my turn. SURPRISE!! The equipment didn't work! Thankfully Marcin and his handy-dandy zip drive were in the audience, and I was able to present my topic, "How Loud is Too Loud?" without too much headache.

Do YOU know "How loud is too loud?" Loudness is a psychological concept-- but decibels (sound intensity) aren't. I spoke about the human auditory system and how it works, what we do to damage it, and how we can protect it. I saw a lot of shocked faces after my presentation, so hope I helped this audience to consider the things they do that might put their hearing in danger (and seriously, folks-- for musicians, it is SUPER important to maintain our hearing skills!!). The one, super easy take-home-message is, WEAR EARPLUGS! If you have any questions about that, send me an email: info@katrinmeidell.com.

After my presentation, we all had lunch at the Academy Cafeteria, and then I began my marathon 3-hour master class. I met with 6 students for a half hour each. In a completely bizarre turn of events, I had only heard or played two of the pieces I was presented (usually you know all the pieces played), yet I feel like I was still effective with all of the students. The very cool thing is, you don't have to talk about the notes on the page to be a useful instructor (that's an Insider Secret!). With almost all of them I talked about technique, and different ways to approach their instruments and what they were playing. Thankfully most of the students were (or at least seemed!) comfortable enough with English to understand what I was saying, and I do hope I gave each of them something to think about. Whether or not they adapt my ideas into their regular viola lives is completely up to them and their teachers, but either way, I'm pretty sure I gave them some ideas to stretch their understanding of viola playing.

After that, I was blessed to be able to share my interpretation of Rebecca Clarke's Shorter Pieces for Viola and Piano with pianist Anna Starzec-Makandasis. She was an absolute joy to work with these past few days, and performing with her in front of an audience was no different. THANK YOU Anna!!! I'm very happy with how I played, and feel like I was well-able to project how I feel about these six shorter works. I got some really nice comments afterwards, and look forward to sharing with you the audio recording I know was made at the concert.

After that, Spencer and Nicholas played THREE (yes, THREE) full sonatas back-to-back without a break!!! They were all Romantic-style/era pieces I'd never heard before, and they are all completely worthy of being a staple in the Viola Repertoire. Kudos to Spencer for finding these Gems, and to him and Nicholas for giving a Seriously Killer performance!

Then, finally, we were off to dinner. It was quite lovely, with lots of laughter and many languages (mostly Polish and English, with a bit of Italian, Russian, and French thrown in), and a LOT of light.

Wait....... HUH???

Well see... now we've finally come to the Very Memorable Dinner I shared with Spencer and Nicholas last night...

We went to DARK RESTAURANT. Unwittingly (seriously) we ended up at the only completely blacked-out restaurant in Poznań (and I believe Poland). What? Well-- we arrived (after having read a few reviews and being attracted by their vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options (we'd eaten a LOT of meat in the last few days)) at a place that looked a bit spooky. But it was raining and we were hungry and tired and we could understand the language on the sign... so we went in and waited for a while at a long table in a dim room, listening to other customers chatting and laughing in another room...


Eventually, an employee came over to educate us about where we'd unwittingly turned up-- Turns out DARK Restaurant isn't lying. It was a COMPLETE black-out experience. For those of us who had cell or data service, we had to turn off phones, and off we marched (hands on one-anothers'-shoulders) into a completely pitch-black space. We were guided to a table and chairs, all the while hearing the other diners around us and being unable to see ANYTHING. It was COMPLETELY DARK. When our plates arrived, it was difficult to use utensils. I kept being surprised by what I found on my plate (OMG!! It's a GREEN BEAN!!!), and after dinner and the full-light debriefing learned that only about a third of what I thought I was eating was actually what I turned out to be eating!! It was a CRAZY and VERY MEMORABLE experience. Seriously-- when is the last time you went out to eat and didn't check your cell phone at least once? Or glace at a TV screen? Or notice that person over yonder? Or any number of things we ALL DO when we can see? It was wild. Nicholas and Spencer and I had really great conversation-- there was no other option. Some of us reverted to "cave-man style" eating (seriously-- if you can't see what's on your fork, let alone your plate, how are you going to get it into your mouth??), and ALL of us had a really great time. I think we were all a little nervous about it once we realized where we were and what we were about to experience, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It was SERIOUSLY the most memorable dining experience I've ever had.

Have you ever been to a dark restaurant?

After we got back, Spencer sent this funny text:  "Selfie From Dinner"



Happy practicing!



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!