Thursday, May 31, 2007

LA in May

disney hall in the evening

sweet peas at the getty center garden


little white arbor flowers

the museum from the gardens

seeping urn fountain

flowers in dappled sunlight

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I thought that when school ends, you get vacation, but that hasn't worked out for me yet. The audition a few weeks ago went OK. I feel better about it with a little time and perspective. I talked to the comment person (whom I happen to admire very much), and that was very helpful. He had some suprising things to say about several aspects of the audition. I found what he had to say about the committee very interesting--about the wide ranges of opinion on specific players as well as basic attitudes about what they were looking for from the auditioners. Personally, he was somewhat flexible on rhythm, though any audition advice I've heard has always been "Play exactly rhythmically! Someone behind that screen will be tapping a beat!" His point was that it's more difficult to play exactly rhythmically alone than it is when the orchestra and the conductor is keeping a beat for you to follow. With which I agree whole-heartedly. But he said other members of the committee were complete sticklers for rhythm. He was more concerned with pitch, but slight problems were not an issue since everyone has those. What he was really looking for in an English horn player, which is a solo position, was leadership. A sense that the player was willing to go to extremes of dynamics (particularly diffucult on English horn, which has a small dynamic range and an alto voice that is easily lost in a sea of orchestral sound) and really get his or her musical ideas across, rather than simply stick to exactly what was on the page. He would prefer that players not try and guess what the committee wants to hear, but play true to themselves and hope that the committee likes who they are, not who they think they should be. I think this leadership idea is definitely something I can work with, to really own my excerpts and play them the way I want to play them, and to stretch my playing to the extremes. I was surprised at first when he thought my Roman Carnival was timid, but now that I think about it, it could be more soloistic. I need to work on faster tonguing for Nocturnes (no surprise there), but was happy that he mentioned he liked my quiet setting for New World. Since I was upset about Nocturnes, I am rather proud of myself for being able to pull myself together for New World. I need to exhibit more a forceful side at some point of the audition, though. Can do, will work on it! I was happy that I fixed some of my problems from Buffalo, and that I was able to seal myself off before the audition better (with the exception of an annoying but unavoidable encounter during the swtichoff of individual warm-up rooms--who asks someone who's about to play an audition if they can see her reed????) Of course, it helped that they didn't tell me I was about to play and then go off on a break. This time when my embouchure felt tired, I knew that it was a nervous reaction and not a physical reality, so I told myself, "You played a recital last week and you haven't played too much this morning. You are NOT tired. Lips, form a normal embouchure, OR ELSE." And it actually pretty much worked! I still need to work on my support giving way, and my old teacher gave me some excellent advice for working on it.

Well, soon as I got back to LA, there was a new job (weird place, but flexible so I can practice) and the Disney Hall Debut concert. Debut may not be the best orchestra ever, but I was happy to be playing Shostakovich 10, several of my colleagues sounded amazing, and Disney Hall was great, so I was generally very happy. I was also happy that my solo went fine and projected well, probably thanks to the hall. That piece has some ridiculously fast licks in it. They kind of flew by, oh well. Maybe I hit a few of those notes!

To complicate things, my parents came for a visit, which was great, just not always relaxing. Mom stayed a little longer, and we did lots of fun LA things--Rodeo drive, Getty Center, shopping in Santa Monica, good food, walks along the beach, in addition to some errands. I have som nice photos, maybe I'll try and post a few.

Now I just have to do laundry, clean my room, practice, catch up on things.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


While I have more that I'd like to write about in my blog about lots of things that I still need process through my mind, I will wait a little longer for that. For now, I would like to mention that I attended a wonderful performance last night of my roommate's new music group, pLAy. Actually, it was their first public performance. pLAy consists of six musicians, who play violin/viola, cello/gamba, flutes oboes and clarinets of all shapes and sizes, and piano/percussion. They commissioned several of their composer friends and colleagues to write music for their group, and they are giving three performances this weekend in LA. The first was yesterday, at the lovely home of Alan Goldman. They placed seven pieces in a very intimate environment (basically Mr. Goldman's living room), while the audience enjoyed wine and delicious cookies. I was happy to notice that a young (nine or ten, maybe?) student of the pianist in the group came with her family, including adorable little sister, and they seemed comfortable, able to get up when the littlest one got squirmy, and to walk over get a better view of the keyboard. There should be more opportunities for this type of performance, where the music is still taken seriously without making the audience feel constricted. Kudos to Mr. Goldman, who allows several of these types of performances a year in his home.

I really enjoyed the performance and the music. I truly respect my friends for their dedication in creating new opportunities in classical music. They played another performance at CalArts today, and there is a final performance at a contemporary art museum tomorrrow at 4 pm (after which is Debut's Shostakovich 10 in Disney Hall at 7 . . . )

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I am still here, just back from a little vacation at home after the Houston audition. I will write more later, this is just to check in.

I'm listening to Shostakovich 10, I'm playing it with Debut and first rehearsal is tomorrow. I love Shostakovich, and I'm excited to be playing this. I feel like all my most intense musical experiences have been with Shostakovich. I have a distinct--{oh dear, this second movement is FAST! 3rd movement, there's the EH solo I need to look at}. Anyway, I clearly remember the first time I heard a Shostakovich symphony. It was number 11, at Rice, when I was in 7th grade. I had only just started playing oboe at the time, but I played violin, and my teacher went to Rice, and she was playing. I was amazed by the power of that symphony. That concert began a long tradition of regular attendance at Rice concerts. A few years later, I had now switched to cello, and my cello teacher (again at Rice) was playing Shostakovich 7. I had an even stronger reaction to that symphony, sort of obsessed over it for a while. And then in college we played Shostakovich 4, once of the most exhilarating performances of my life. Our conductor had actually been at the premiere in the USSR, which I thought was pretty amazing. (The premiere of the 4th occurred considerably later than it was written, due to problems with Stalin). Plus, Shostakovich had received an honorary doctorate from Northwestern shortly before he died, and one of the Russian lit professors there had hosted him. I was able to interview him, and a composition professor who had also met him, for a paper about it. {Oh, there's the DSCH.} The paper didn't turn out to be much, but it was great to talk to these people who actually had interacted with Shostakovich. {Hmm this part's awfully fast too, oh there's the end. Dude.}

Since then, I think I've achieved more of a balance with the music I obsess over, but I still love Shostakovich, and always enjoy hearing his music.

Well, gotta get going. More on auditions etc later.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

post-recital, computerless

well, the recital went fine, would have liked a few things to go better, but that's the way it goes with recitals. and i got lots of flowers and enjoyed the company of several of my friends (and teacher!) with cookies and strawberries and wine and cheese afterwards, which was really the best part. unfortunately, i had to send my computer in to be repaired, so this blog is on semi-vacation. shirley kindly allowed me to use hers, but it doesn't feel right, blogging from someone else's computer. she's in chicago, i hope she enjoys it for me!!

last night i watched allegro non troppo with kim. i've seen this movie a few times already, but i feel like i enjoy it more every time i see it. that little cat in the sibelius gets me every time! if you haven't seen this movie, i recommend it, especially if you're a musician. i won't try to describe it, because, well, that would be difficult. besides, i think you'll enjoy it more if you don't know anything going into it.