Checkpoint: Mile 20 on the Musical Marathon I am Currently Running

Greetings! This last month has been jam-packed full of music: A totally exciting journey of different genres, styles, conductors, cities, ensembles, stages, rehearsals and performances. O the places you will go!

It is quite a thrill to go from a monumental program of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun by Debussy, and Shostakovich Symphony No. 11 directly to a week of Gershwin, followed by classic love songs for Valentine’s Day, only to turn around and play a fully staged production of Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet and not three days later begin rehearsals of Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony and Beethoven’s Pastorale. Throw in a violin duo recital of 20th century folk and American music and musically I’ve certainly hit some high notes! Today is my first day off in over a month. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not complaining – it is never a bad thing to be hired to do the thing you set out to do- but that nagging “I should be writing” feeling starts to creep in at the edges of of this performing, rehearsing, practicing life.

Internet forgive me for it has been  a month since my last blog post.

The funny thing is I come up with all sorts of things I can’t wait to sit down and discuss on here…while I’m practicing. Timing is everything. I literally have pages of notes and musings hurriedly scribbled down that grows longer with every concert program I prepare. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!

What I have really appreciated about the diversity of these programs is the entirely different challenges each composer and violin part demands. There is a different type of listening one must do when rehearsing Beethoven Symphony No.6 than is required when playing Peter Schickele’s Duo Caprice. Likewise when preparing Debussy on the same program as Mozart and Shostakovich. The sensitivity required for each is separate, yet equal. I really do feel like I have been stretched and expanded as a person and musician because of this.

I also appreciate how each informs the other. Playing Gershwin one week and Prokofiev the next actually makes the music resonate a little differently. You notice chord changes and harmonic colors in a way that almost disregards history. I played Beethoven AFTER Bartók but all of a sudden I notice glimmers of Bartók in Beethoven. Does that make sense? How about this: The musical correlations I make are based on my personal timeline rather than a historically accurate progression. There is something pretty cool about that. In many ways this is actually how culture works and moves. For example; I notice a new fashion trend, a beautiful dress or style and think ‘Wow! I love that!’ and realize only later that that particular designer was looking to the past for inspiration. I then appreciate an earlier version of what I have just discovered first from the modern version, and consequently as it highlights history. You can hear these influences in music all the time. I call it the 'batman progression' (trust me you know it when you hear it) but in fact Shostakovich was using it way before the comic book was even a glimmer in Marvel's eye. Now when I hear that progression in Shostakovich's music (or anyone's music really) I think BATMAN! 

Anyways – Hi! Nice to visit with you again! Hopefully I’ll see you at one of the upcoming performances. Next up is André Previn’s Opera A Streetcar Named Desire followed closely by a performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony. Pretty good stuff! As always leave a comment and start a discourse with me on this post/rant/observation. I’d love to hear your thoughts and musings on the music, art, and culture in YOUR context.