Monday, April 30, 2007

missing spring

Tomorrow's my recital. Nothing more I can do now to prepare, so I'm trying to chill out. Though I do have to clean since I'm having the reception at my apartment, and it needs a good tidying-up.

I've been missing Evanston/Chicago a lot. That's sort of weird, I guess, but I do. Since LA doesn't really have a winter, it also doesn't really have a spring. Spring in Chicagoland is phenomenal. I really wish I were there to see / smell / hear it. The progression of flowers: crocus, those little blue flowers, daffodil, forscythia, tulip, crab apple trees, lily of the valley (my favorite! so sweet, and they smell so lovely), violet, lilac, iris, peony, rose. And the way the leaves start from nothing, and then they're that pale green, and then that deep green. I love that deep green. I miss the lake, and the rainstorms, and running to the Ba'hai temple, and the pretty little neighborhoods and the cafes, and going to the city, that beautiful skyline, Millennium Park, WALKING PLACES. I miss a lot of people that are still there. I miss the way the robins sing, sometimes even in the middle of the night. I even miss the humidity. I somehow felt a gut connection to Chicago, especially in spring and summer when everything is so ALIVE. I don't have that in LA, at least not yet. I never had it for Houston. I do for Connecticut, maybe since I was born there. And Chicago and Connecticut have somewhat similar climates. They have a lot of the same vegetation, at any rate. Well, LA is always beautiful, I should enjoy it. But it's always the same. I like seeing different flowers every week. OK OK OK, maybe I'll go clean now, stop brooding. But I miss it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

and yet another

I feel like the year 2007 is involved in some sort of conspiracy to take away as many of the brightest people in the world it can. Now I have to add Rostropovich to my count.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

more LA fun

On Saturday I played a studio session for the USC student film composers: as a final project, they each write a cue for an existing movie, and they actually have the opportunity to record the cues with a studio orchestra. Most of the musicians were studio regulars, I guess, but there were several USC students, as well. I was a little nervous about it, since I recognized some good musicians there, and since I gave up a whole Saturday shortly before my recital, but I'm really glad I did it. It was fun! I might as well enjoy living in LA, right? [I realized that the studios we were at are the same that are reflected in the WB logo at the beginning of movies, with the rounded roofs of the lots and the water tower, and was probably more excited than I should have been.] Plus, it was really nice to make the composers happy so easily. I just played the music in front of me, and they were ecstatic to be able to record their demos! I mean, completely overjoyed. It was really cute, actually.

Of course, it started at 10 am, and I had just gotten my instruments out, tested some reeds, warmed up a little and it was time to start. Lo and behold, the first cue had a big English horn solo (I was playing second & EH). Good morning! Welcome to WB, Eastwood studio, now quick, read this solo five times!!! We rehearsed it once, then recorded several takes, trying to get the English horn loud enough, apparently. I'm not sure why they moved my mic away from me though . . . so I just played louder each time, and the orchestra played quieter. Anyway, it wasn't a difficult solo, sort of eastern-sounding (the cue was for Passion of the Christ), and it was fun to play, I really enjoyed it. And the rest of the cues were more relaxing after that. There were a lot of runs that you just have to approximate, since there's no time to practice. To a musician trained in classical music, this is confusing, since we're taught to obsess over everything to make it perfect. But when you have to play something as best you can in a few takes, you play differently, just making sure everything lines up [clic tracks are disconcerting at first, but eventually I came to appreciate them] and the effects come through. Pro studio musicians must be amazing sightreaders.

Playing the studio gig really made me realize how much fun it is to just play without thinking, just to love your instrument. There was no time to think or rehearse, so I just played. Completely the opposite of La Mer, which we're doing in Debut at the moment. The first few times we played the second movement, I totally freaked out about the opening solo, and it just sort of went by without my playing it. Since it's an excerpt I've spent some time with, I had so many ideas about what tempo it should be and where the phrase goes and how the grace notes should be (etc etc etc) that my brain was too bogged down to let me just relax and play the solo. I didn't get it until tonight's rehearsal, when we went back and fixed it. I was thinking, if I could somehow practice it so that I naturally incorporated some of the aspects I mentioned above, and then relax and play naturally and freely like I did at the studio, that would really be ideal. Easier said than done though! Plus, it's really different to play the excerpt than to actually have to take a tempo from a conductor and stick to it! I'm really glad to play the piece, though.

Well, I better get to work on that stupid paper. Or reeds. Goodnight.

Monday, April 16, 2007

commuting, reed incidents, & music

OK, since I just cut my finger on my reed knife (stupid stupid stupid), I decided it would be a good time to take a break, eat, call my mother, blog, whatever. Since it seems everyone's talking about the Joshua Bell subway incident, here's what I have to say: leave the poor commuters alone!!! They are not philistines, they are merely tired people trying to get to work on time. I am never awake enough to appreciate anything in the morning in the city, and I'm usually running late. I am waiting for my coffee to kick in, preoccupied with my upcoming day. In addition, when taking public transportation, I automatically shut myself off from the hustle and bustle around me, a defense mechanism to discourage people from trying to sell stuff to me, engage me in a conversation I'd rather not have, get me to give them money, get me to listen to whatever music they might be playing or to play one of those games where you bet which cup the marble is under. Thus I would probably not notice a phenomenal violinist if he walked right into me, I would be trying so hard to avoid him. So before jumping to conclusions about how Americans hate classical music, let's assume that at least some of them are just trying to get to work on time.

OK, that said, LA musical life has been very exciting these days. Esa-Pekka is leaving the LA Phil in a couple years (sad) to be replaced by Gustavo Dudamel (happy). Good choice, he could do wonders for classical music in LA and around the country. I hope he brings some of that Simon Bolivar spirit with him. And, Allan played the Mozart concerto with LACO and it was, of course, amazing. He got a standing ovation :) He's so adorable. And I'm so glad I am able to study with him!!!

Now, I myself have a recital to think about, and a paper that I don't even know where to begin, and various other performances for which I need REEDS, if I can just keep from stabbing myself!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

so it goes

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT KURT VONNEGUT, TOO! I don't even know what to say. I'm still in the denial stage, obviously. But there it is. Or rather, "So it goes."

Thursday, April 5, 2007

orchestral diversity

Well, what I have to say about diversity in orchestras is actually pretty simple. It is not possible to cultivate orchestral diversity through the audition process. It is possible to give more equal chances through blind auditions, although, when it really comes down to it, the final step in the process is never blind. Diversity can only be cultivated in education, and at this point, the gross inequality in our education system is not equipped to do so. My clarinet students at Manual Arts High School will never have the same opportunities to excel as my oboe students who attend the Brentwood Academy. The very fact that I, who have not played clarinet since the sixth grade, am their teacher, speaks volumes. There is talent in these schools, but it is not nurtured. And until the same amount of money is spent on music education at Poor Urban School as Rich Suburban School, economically disadvantaged kids will have a harder time acquiring any musical education at all, let alone reaching the level of a professional musician. It also means that vast numbers of young people will not appreciate classical music because they are not exposed to it. And incidentally, I think that the best way to interest kids in classical music is through the instruments themselves. At least there are organizations like the NEC Lab Charter School or the USC Outreach Program.