Tuesday, October 30, 2007

recital rep

I'm looking for something contemporary-ish to play on my recital. Possibilities and other people's suggestions so far:

Antal Dorati, Cinq Pieces (eek, parts of this are really hard!)
Antal Dorati, Duo Concertante
Benjamin Britten, Temporal Variations
Luciano Berio, Sequenza VII
Bohuslav Martinu, concerto (or if I could find a theremin-player . . . I wonder if David or Lara could do it . . .)
Dana Wilson, Mandala
Paul Patterson, Duologue
Elliott Carter, A 6-letter Letter
Bernard Rand, Memo 8
Witold Lutoslawski, Epitaph
Makoto Shinohara, Obsession

Any input?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

CSO vs LA Phil; gender balances

Friday night I had the good fortune to catch the last of the Sibelius Unbound series at the LA Phil. They played symphonies 5 & 6, beautifully. They're taking all 7 symphonies on tour next week. It's funny, within the same week I've heard two top orchestras play music to which they are most suited while in top form. I mean, Chicago is all about Mahler and always has been, and they'd just returned from a tour when I heard them. LA plays a lot of Sibelius because of their Finnish music director, and they're just about to leave on tour. They're very different orchestras, and I must say the LA Phil has a huge ally in Walt Disney Concert Hall. It has a much warmer sound, and they don't have to struggle to project. Plus I'm a still a little bitter that I had to be on the main floor under the overhang in Symphony Center in Chicago. I wanted to try and move at intermission, but it was too well-sold. I mean, that's a good thing, I suppose, but still, I hate being under the overhang.

Also of interest: both orchestras have recently hired new principal oboists. One was even in the finals for the other. I think Eugene Izotov sounds beautiful and is a great fit with the CSO. I'm not as familiar with LA, but perhaps a younger player suites this youth-obsessed town and its orchestra, while the CSO continues to have a somewhat good-ol'-boys atmosphere to it. Well, they've finally hired a female horn player, which they haven't had since Gail left, but she's the only female brass player. And I was happy to see that their new principal percussionist is a woman, and she got to hit the sledgehammer in Mahler 6 :) The only women in the woodwinds remain concentrated in the flute section, although upper strings have a good gender balance. It will be interesting to see who wins the English horn and principal clarinet positions at the CSO.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

mini-vacay OVER

I'm back in LA, and not necessarily all that happy about it. It's hot and VERY dry. My hair is static-y like in winter in Chicago (taking off your coat and then touching your metal locker to get your instrument sometimes produced visible sparks). I had a gig out in Glendora today, and there were little pieces of ash floating around in the air. The sky is a weird color from the smoke, and it smells funny in places. So far, no one I know has been affected by the fires, but I know lots of others have, and I hope that those horrible Santa Anna winds die down soon for their sakes. I saw some of the fires from the plane and they looked scary, way too close to populated areas.

I'm getting really tired of school, and was not happy to have to cram for a midterm today. Since I got a break from driving this weekend, I haven't been freaking out about it as much, but since I went to Glendora today and tomorrow I might do Santa Clarita-USC-Pacific Palisades, I'm not sure how long that will last. And I'm super tired right now, so that's all I have to say. Yes, I'm grumpy about my mini-vacation in Chicago being over.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

CSO audition

Well, I am sitting in the Unicorn Cafe again, enjoying the beautiful Chicago fall. Yesterday, I auditioned for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra! Obviously, I was not in any way qualified for the job, but since it's relatively easy for me to stay in Chicago, I thought I should take the audition, and I'm really glad I did. It had a huge list, probably to discourage too many people from taking the audition. It worked. I've only taken four auditions so far, all of them for orchestras not as prestigious as the CSO, and three of them had around 70 people in the prelims. For this audition, "only" 51 people participated in the prelims, as far as I can tell (I was in the last round, and the last person to play was #51). However, from what I could tell from my round, these people were all older, more experienced, and more serious players, whereas at my other auditions, there was a wider variety in age and ability. I had to work really hard to prepare the list, and in a way the audition was exponentially harder for me than for people who already had orchestral English horn jobs and who would have therefore already performed most of the listed material with an orchestra. But now I've seriously prepared a bulk of the major English horn rep, so I can start preparing my next audition at a higher level. Plus I doubt there will be many other auditions I take in my life that will be as difficult as that one.

The CSO was relatively organized and friendly for the audition, which I appreciated. I was happy with my playing. It wasn't perfect, but I didn't mess up (I nailed Nocturnes, which I was anxious about since I miffed it at my last audition), and I was able to play with a decent sound, relatively musically, and I didn't have any funny embouchure problems. The biggest problem was dry mouth, which I find sometimes makes it harder for me to make proper attacks or tongue clearly. I actually sipped my reed water, it was that bad (I know, GROSS, but it was clean water and it helped! Supposedly you can also bite your tongue to combat it, but that freaked me out to much to try). I played three excerpts before they said "thank you," and I was grateful for that. My last excerpt was 3-Cornered Hat, and my articulation wasn't clear enough for it (plus I think I might have played an extra beat of that D-Eb-C#, oops. I don't feel too bad about that, though--my recording leaves out a beat of that!). I was able to stay relatively calm and focused, and oddly enough, I think I owe part of that to the audition monitor! He was a very sweet older gentleman who seemed intent on putting me at ease. He told me to relax and enjoy it, he complimented me on my playing, and he had a calming tone of voice and smile. So thank you, audition monitor, whoever you are! You helped. I am proud of myself for taking the audition, and for improving my audition-playing. I still need a lot more maturity in my playing, and to really own the excerpts instead of just playing them correctly, but that will only come with time. I still have so much work to do, as the playing of candidate #47 reminded me. He played beautifully (and he got to play Rite of Spring and New World in addition to Roman Carnival, Nocturnes, and 3-Cornered Hat), but even he didn't advance (no one in my round did). I recognized one other person in my round, a lovely player from LA. She said she didn't play well, and that might have to do with the fact that my audition number and hers got mixed up, so I ended up going before her even though she was brought to a private warm-up room before me. So she ended up waiting for 50 minutes in her warm-up room, even though it was only supposed to be 15-20 (I think I waited about 30). That would have freaked me out.

Anyway, audition's over. I am enjoying the weekend in Chicago despite the fact that I have a midterm for Stravinsky on Tuesday. I get to see some friends here and appreciate Chicago, what a fantastic city and a welcome relief from LA. Plus my parents happened to be here for a conference, so I get to see them (it's been since May, overdue). I decided to pop up to Evanston for a few hours today, but I didn't realize what bad shape the CTA is in. It took an hour and a half to get here, when it used to take 45-55 minutes on a Saturday. There's lots of construction, and the trains move slowly, and of course mine had technical difficulties. It's almost as bad as driving in LA, but not quite. And I bought Alex Ross's new book as a post-audition present, so I'll have something to read for the trip back. So I will enjoy my Unicorn (and internet access) and walk around Evanston, before heading back to hear MAHLER 6 at the CSO tonight ($10 student tickets, score!)!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

driving woes

So I found out today that there was a massive accident on the route that I usually take to get to my teacher's house for lessons. It made national news, actually. You can read about it here (NYTimes), or here (LATimes), or here (AP/NPR). It sounds horrible, and it scares me to think that something so terrible happened on a route that I travel so regularly. I am so tired of driving in LA. This week alone I have been to Altadena, Santa Clarita, and Orange County, plus closer trips to USC and LAX. I need a break from driving. Fortunately, I'll get one soon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm still here, I just haven't been in a blogging mood lately. I've been obsessing over reeds without a lot of success. I've been experimenting with a few things, which always unbalances my reedmaking before I figure out how to use my innovations properly. Plus it's been really dry here and nothing's vibrating. Anyway. I did enjoy The Darjeeling Limited this weekend, as well as Double Indemnity. That's all for now, I'll post something better when I can.