Dec 15, 2007
For the latest on what I've been up to, you should read the entries below this one. Meanwhile, it occurred to me that perhaps some of you have been inclined in the past to leave a comment and simply don't know how. So, just in case you want to leave me a note saying, for example, how much you love the recordings I've posted up here, read on to learn how to do just that!
1. Directly below this entry, you will notice the words "0 comments". This is actually a link in which to leave notes. So, click the link.
2. You should be taken to a page that says, "Post a comment on Day in the Life of Devora" on the left, and on the right should be a blank box in which you can type your text. Type your message.
3. Select an identity with which to post your note. Since most of you don't have blogspot accounts, you should just select the "anonymous" option.
4. Then click the big orange button that says, "Publish your comment." Your comment is now posted and is visible to anyone else who clicks on the link.
Note: If people have actually posted comments by the time you get around to reading this, the link in step 1 is not going to say "0 comments" but will reflect the number of comments that people have left.
Dec 12, 2007
Well, the semester is nearly over. This is exciting for many reasons. First of all, I DESPERATELY need a break after the chaotic craziness of the past six weeks. Second, actually having time to do things like sleep and practice is now a possibility. But also, there are many, MANY exciting things I'm looking forward to next semester, and I sort of want February to be here already. But I'll get to that in a few paragraphs.
Things I've done in the past few weeks:
The contempo concert was at the end of November. The weekend immediately after I played for the BC Opera Theater's production of Massanet's Werther. The next day (Monday) was the first composer's concert, on which I played Dan Blake's piece (posted above). A few days later I performed Dvorak with my trio. The Monday after that (ie, a few days ago), was the second composer's concert, on which I played in five pieces. Around all of these exciting performances I've been working, practicing, rehearsing, teaching, lesson-ing, and all sorts of other exciting yet mundane things.
Last week I finally got the results of the huge comprehensive exam I took in November. I passed all four sections, which was unsurprising to about everybody but me. So that means I'm just about all clear to graduate in June.
I'll be flying back to Iowa next Thursday, after my student's mini-recital and my Master's recital audition and the music department's annual holiday concert. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, catching up on sleep, and getting some much-needed work done on my poor violin.
Now, about next semester and all of the things I'm looking forward to. For one thing, I'm very anxious to graduate and be done with school for a very long time, if not forever! Also, I'm taking a music philosophy class to fulfill my music history requirement (those of you who know about my philosophical past will appreciate my excitement about this). But perhaps the most exciting thing of all is that I'm collaborating with four and counting composers who are either writing pieces for me or that involve me. Let's call it the Solo Violin Project.
This all came about in October when I began considering what to program on my master's recital. I was trying to find a piece in memory of Grandma, but didn't really find anything suitable. A close friend of mine suggested commissioning a piece, and after a great deal of thought and discussion with my peers and teachers, I sent an email to one of the composition faculty asking if anyone was planning to write something for violin in the spring or would be interested in a collaboration. My thought is that a composer and myself could mutually benefit from the other person's knowledge, thereby avoiding the hassle of actually having to commission something. Instead of merely answering my question, he actually forwarded the message to all of the composition students.
Nine of them responded. Ten, if you count the one who offered to write a piece but not in the spring. Anyway, I've been trying to narrow down my choices. Half of them I was able to eliminate because of previous, less-than-ideal experiences with either their working style or simply the music iself. But four of the composers I met with were so compelling and had so many fascinating and exciting ideas that I decided to let them all write pieces! Of course, this meant I had to alter my original intention of having someone write a piece for Grandma. After all, what can a person do with four elegies?? Instead, I told them all to just write for violin, and if it happens to be a piece I can use for my own purposes, so much the better.
One of them has already begun working, and two of them are studying some violin music in order to understand possibilities and limitations. Obviously I'm not going to program all four pieces on my recital, but I am considering giving a separate recital of just new music. To make that happen, I might have to look into getting grant money to make it worthwhile for everyone who might be involved. My master's recital definitely pales in comparison to all of the amazing and fantastic possibilities which the Solo Violin Project will entail.
In other news, I'm going to work on obtaining the recording of the second composition recital so that I can post more pieces for your enjoyment.
Happy belated Chanukah to those who celebrate, and very happy holidays to all!!
Dec 7, 2007
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, and stay tuned in the next week or so for a recap of sorts of the rest of my semester!
Nov 22, 2007
Surprise! Another update! See below for details about what I've been up to lately. Meanwhile, I FINALLY figured out how to post music on here, so now you can hear what I'm doing as well as reading about it.
So far there is only one track to listen to. It's from last spring, entitled "B'dameyich Chai'yi," which I think I mentioned briefly at the time. It's a string trio and sounds pretty neat. I'm the violinist (of course!) and the viola and cello are my friends Brian and Louis.
As I track down more recordings of new music I've played, I'll post them to the player. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the post!
Nov 16, 2007
Anyway!! I promised to tell you about lots of things, so I'd better get started.
1. I am writing this entry on my new and very lovely Macbook! This is exciting because my Dell notebook was dying a very slow, dramatic and irritating (for me) death. :( So it is wonderfully amazing, after five years of Windows dysfunction, to have a piece of technology that is so fantastic. Because I'm (still) a student, I got a rather nice education discount, and they also had a promotion where you could get a full rebate on a printer, so I also bought a Canon all-in-one printer, which I love as well.
So far I've had no issues at all with my new laptop, and actually prefer Apples to PCs. Plus, the commercials are so amusing!
2. As of now, I have taken both of my big exams. The first one I took was the language exam, wherein I had to translate a music article from my foreign language of choice into idiomatic English. This was sort of a fluke: I was under the impression that this exam was in December, when in fact it was in October. So one random day when I walked into the music office, the music secretary more or less made me take the exam. I had been worrying all semester about the fact that it has been seven years since I studied French, but the contents of a French/English dictionary and random fragments I remembered during translation proved to be enough to earn me a passing score.
The other exam was the Comprehensive Exam, also referred to as Graduate exams. This was the three/four hour exam during which my knowledge of all areas of my musical study were tested. I took this exam last Thursday, right before an orchestra concert and flying back to Iowa, and made myself finish in three hours, even though technically I could have had four. In retrospect I think I would have benefited from an extra ten minutes, but I had to get to rehearsal. I find out my score in two weeks. Keep your fingers crossed that I passed everything!
3. Something very unlikely happened a few weeks ago: I started teaching violin lessons. I had rather notoriously proclaimed that I would never be a teacher: I never really thought I had any good teacher-ly skills, and besides, performing and getting the practical experience is infinitely more valuable. Or so I thought. As it turns out, my many years of being a student has enabled me to instruct others. Anyway, my student is eight years old and has been studying for two years. In the three weeks we've worked together, she has improved and learned more than in her entire two years. I'm making her give a small recital for her family in December, so I guess we'll see then how good of a teacher I actually am ....
4. This month I have performances coming out my ears!!! There was an orchestra concert a week ago, and the conTempo concert is at the end of November. One of the provisions for being in conTempo is to play for the student composer concerts at the beginning of December. This semester, I have been approached by SEVEN composers, and will be playing in five pieces (I declined two of them) between the two concerts. I'm thinking that I'll be short on rehearsal time (I am involved with three ensembles outside of my collaborations with composers), but it is largely such great fun to play music that no one has ever heard or performed that I don't even care! (I probably should, because I tend to get stressed out about this sort of thing).
5. I guess the last thing to tell you about is my recent visit back to Iowa. Bubbie and Zadie (my grandparents) turned 80 and 90 this month, and celebrated by inviting the extended family and friends to a big party.
Though this isn't exactly a stress-free time for me, it was nice to see everyone, especially all of the extended family who came from all over the country to celebrate. Many of them I hadn't seen in a very long time, and to my surprise, they all seemed smaller than I remember. Hm.
Particularly entertaining were the speeches given on Saturday night. Bubbie's brother went first, and his speech was probably the nicest by far. Uncle Aaron presented Zadie with a glass cutter, the Rabbi spoke, Abe Rissman entertained, Riva and I expounded upon the important lessons we learned from Bubbie and Zadie, and Uncle David serenaded everyone with special lyrics he wrote to the tune of "Suddenly Seymour." Now, who could ask for anything more?
Newark, as it turns out, is not very impressive to look at from overheard on a cloudy day. And although the airport is arguably closer to my apartment than La Guardia, the carfare is actually more expensive thanks to the lovely, also-not-impressive New Jersey turnpike. As it also turns out, Newark is the least expensive airport to fly out from, and so I may very well find myself back there in a few weeks.
At any rate, I arrived back at my apartment at about the same time that most of the other unlucky passengers on the original flight were arriving at La Guardia, so I guess things turned
out as well as they could have, all things considered. I do wonder, though, why I seem to have
such notoriously bad luck when it comes to air travel ....
(Who loves you? Devora and Riva do!)
Nov 12, 2007
As always, it has been .. awhile, but rest assured, there are a lot of things going on in Devora-land!!
Anyway. I don't have time to tell you about all the things I'm up to of late, so stay tuned for an upcoming entry as early as this weekend involving:
*recent travel adventures
*and many more things!
I hope you all are well, and for those of you I saw over the weekend, it was a lot of fun to see you!
I suppose I'd better go do something about all the things I have to do before the day ends ...
Oct 4, 2007
First, as you know, my birthday was a month ago, and while I rarely celebrate it anymore, I was harassed to such length by my friends and coworkers that I finally decided to do something this year. The original plan was to go to dinner the Friday after my birthday, but since no one could come then, and I ended up getting sick, we decided to push it back a week so everyone could come.
And everyone came!! We went to this Italian restaurant in Park Slope called Aunt Suzie's, and had an amazing dinner, after which the wait staff sang to me and had me blow out my birthday cheesecake, which was delicious.
After dinner we went to the promenade, which overlooks the East River and has a fantastic view of Manhattan, and walked and talked a bit. We ended the evening at some noisy bar in downtown Brooklyn, where we had dessert and tried to tune out the drunken revelry going on around us. It was a fantastic evening, and has inspired me to want to celebrate my birthday in future years as well :)
Last week, I was bumming around the music building before my lesson when I noticed a postcard flyer on a bulletin board: Kronos Quartet coming to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) the first week of October. As it happens, I am a big fan of Kronos, as they promote new music like nobody's business and are just generally amazing. And since they were going to be coming so close, and tickets were cheap, I called the BAM box office the next day and bought tickets with my friend Seth to go and see them.
The show was last night, and it was definitely one of the very most amazing things I have ever seen in my entire life.
I won't go into detail about the entire concert, but there were so many highlights!! The second piece on the program was entitled "Dear Mme.", and was the world premiere of a collaboration with Erik Sanko, a composer/creator/puppeteer. This piece involved a gigantic puppet, whose torso opened up to reveal a tiny little marionnette stage on which three little scenes were enacted to the music of Kronos. After intermission, Kronos performed the rest of the concert with this amazing Finnish accordian player Kimmo Pohjonen and sampling artist Samuli Kosminen. What they played I cannot even describe, it was so amazing. The quartet's sound blended perfectly with the accordian and the audio sampling, and what came from the stage was intense and fierce and beautiful and inspiring and so many other things ...
For more information on the Kronos Quartet, click here.
Sep 15, 2007
Well, near the end of August this year, as every year, I started classes again. This is a process that I always find to be extremely frustrating (I'm still in school and want to be done) and also extremely exciting (the promise of all the things that can be learned and accomplished in the coming months). This year, unlike most years, however, had a bit of a twist to the beginning of the term. See, I had been waiting to sign up for a music history course until one came along that was either relevant or interesting to me. Last spring when I registered, there was a 20th century history course being offered, but no one was allowed to sign up for it yet. So I signed up for History of Jazz in the meantime. That is, until I sat through the first excruciatingly boring class and realized that remaining in the class was not an option. The 20th century history class had by now been assigned both a topic (pop music in the USA and Britain) and a professor, as well as a class time that directly conflicted with Tuesday orchestra rehearsals (which I couldn't miss). Needless to say, I was rather disappointed at how this all turned out, but the upside is that my advisor agreed to let me complete my elective credits this semester by being in ensembles. She also told me that, as a last resort, an independent study could count as the history credits if I could find a professor and get a topic approved. So, next semester I have options. In the meantime, here is the list so far of "what I'm up to" this semester.
conTempo: Meets Monday evenings. Unlike previous semesters, conTempo is attracting an ever-growing number of composers and musicians who are genuinely interested in all aspects of new music. So far we're working on a piece called 13 Ways, by THomas Albert, for flute, violin/viola, cello, marimba, clarinet and piano. Students in the class are currently working on finding more repertoire for the concert. The group also includes 2-3 student composers who will be writing pieces for us.
Orchestra: Meets Tuesdays and Thursdays. Due to an influx of serious string students this fall, the quality of the ensemble has improved a great deal. Once again, I'm concertmaster, although there are a couple other students who could do the job just as well.
Lessons: Wednesday afternoons. I'm still studying with Kawasaki, who continues to amaze me with his extraordinary abilities. We began working on Ysaye's Sonata in A Minor, which is for unaccompanied violin, and somehow considerably more difficult than what Bach wrote. But it's a piece I've been dying to play for a couple of years, so am really excited to be working on it now. We're in the planning stages of my recital, and I'm also in the beginning stages of commissioning a piece by a student composer to be performed this spring as well.
Chamber Music: Wednesday afternoons. I'm in a piano trio which meets right after my lesson. This semester we're going to work on music by Haydn and Dvorak, and possibly expand outward from there.
1. I've agreed to play music by two student composers in December for the composition recitals, something which has always been exciting in the past, and will likely be so this time around as well.
2. Exams. In order to graduate, Master's candidates myst take both a foreign language exam and a comprehensive exam. I am scheduled to take both of these this semester. The language exam is merely to prove the student's ability to translate from a foreign language (in my case, French) to English.
The comprehensive exam, on the other hand, is a grueling 3-4 hour exam which involves 4 distinct (and difficult) sections. The first section is providing definitions and contexts for 300+ terms. There is an analysis section, the work of which is completed before the exam and referenced and discussed on the exam itself. The third section is identifying scores, and the fourth part is an essay concerning one's instrument and its historical developments. The research for this is done before the exam, because one must reference specific examples in the course of the essay.
Difficult, really. Especially all the studying and effort that must be put in before the exam itself.
And that is my semester.
Sep 11, 2007
Well, as many of you know, I was in Iowa for 10 days in August, mostly to participate in my sister's wedding festivities. It was a very exciting time, and busy too.
I flew in the evening of August 3 (Friday), and the next day, along with Riva's friend Chrissie, held a wedding shower for Riva and Joe (her husband) at my mom's house. That night, as Joe was whisked off for some fun, Riva's attendants (which included me, her maid of honor) took her out for her own night of debauchery and hijinks.
Now: despite my repeated offers to help Riva with wedding anything, the only thing she asked me to do was to help her with the string quartet. Specifically, she wanted a certain part of Canon in D to be occurring as she walked down the aisle, and it was my job to make sure that the processional got timed out in correctly in order to make that happen. Luckily, or mostly because of the string quartet, who was informed of this request, they began playing the specific part right as Riva started walking down the aisle. A small detail, yes, but a correct one! Good job string quartet!
Anyway, this seems as good a time as any to tell you about the wedding day itself. It had rained on the preceding days, so it was a relief to wake up on Friday to a perfect (though extremely hot) day. Riva and I ran some last-minute errands before we met the rest of her attendants for lunch at Stella's. Now, as anyone who has been to Stella's can tell you, one of the highlights of the visit is getting one of their yummy milkshakes poured onto your head! Of our bunch, only Emily was brave enough to get her milkshake poured on her head (and actually the waitress missed a little, but that's another story).
After lunch, us girls had appointments for updos, which were scheduled for 12:30. And this is
where the trouble began. See, apparently they had tried to call us to reschedule, since they had sent several girls off to lunch. So not everyone got started right away, which ended up throwing off the rest of the afternoon, ultimately causing Riva and her attendants to be nearly an hour late for pictures. But we sure looked fabulous!
The photographer, well, photographed, nearly right up until the wedding, which was held at Jester Park Lodge in Granger. I already told you about the string quartet, and thanks to a great rehearsal the night before, the wedding went very smoothly. Afterwards, everyone went indoors to the wonderful air conditioning (it was a very hot day!) and enjoyed an evening of dinner and dancing.
Sunday my mom and I went to the Iowa State Fair. Let me just say, in the past I've always thought that visiting the fair each year is a very boring endeavor. But when I tried to remember the last time I actually went to the fair, well, turns out it's been at least 7 years. And surely, I thought, going the first weekend would be more exciting than going the very last day. So, we went and had a great time. I took lots of pictures for all of my New York friends to gape at. The Des Moines Register had run an article on the latest Fair culinary marvel: the potato lollipop, which was only offered at a very few stands around the fairgrounds (I so would have gone and found them, had it not been so very HOT that day). I had forgotten how many foods one can get deep fried, on a stick, or both. Including, apparently, hard-boiled eggs.
We made the usual tours of the Butter Cow, the Varied Industries Building, and the animal barns, as well as checking out the Cultural Building and the Needlework Display, which is now bigger and better (and air-conditioned!) on the second floor of Varied Industries. And what is a visit to the State Fair without sampling all of the amazing food? We had Dippin' Dots, turkey tender sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs on sticks, chocolate chip cookies by the cup-ful, A&W rootbeer, Dairy Barn ice cream, and of course, yummy, yummy funnel cake. Now that is definitely one thing I've missed about going to the Fair!
The trip ended mid-afternoon, when both of us were too tired and hot to look at anything else. Besides the State Fair t-shirts we bought as souvenirs, I also brought home a rather painful sunburn to complete my memory of the day.
Sounds like fun, indeed.
The rest of the week, around wedding events, I spent some time catching up with friends and family, even managing to visit a couple of college friends I hadn't seen since graduation.
Not the most restful trip I've had, but certainly one of the most exciting!
Well, first things first. I moved out of my old apartment into a beautiful brownstone in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. It might seem like a minor detail, but there are (small) yards and trees and shrubbery and a degree of spaciousness which most other parts of the borough lack.
Well anyway. I rented a Budget cargo van and managed to drive it around without too many problems. My good friend Louis came and helped me, and I hired a moving guy off Craigslist who turned out to be really terrific, considering how heavy some of my furniture is.
What I didn't realize is how much energy and TIME moving actually takes, especially when you have to do it mostly yourself! In the words of Louis, "I hope I don't move again for a really long time!"
Sep 8, 2007
Unfortunately this is not going to be an update entry, but rather, a quick note to let you all know that I will be updating this week. And yes, it will be a full (or series of) updates covering everything from Iowa, moving, the new apartment, and the complexities of my fall class schedule. And yes, there will be several pictures.
Meanwhile, I will leave you with this thought:
tomorrow is my birthday. In case you don't already know this about me, I'm not big on celebrating my own birthday and usually don't do much at all. That applies to this year as well, which should pretty adequately cover the question, "so Devora, what did you do for your birthday?"
Ok then. Stay tuned for more updates later this week!!
Jul 31, 2007
Which of course begs the question, "Devora,what ARE you up to this month?"
Well, for starters, I'm going back to Iowa for 10 days! In the words of Monty Python, "there was much rejoicing." I am very excited about this for several reasons. First of all, the purpose of the trip is to attend and be the maid-of-honor at my sister Riva's wedding. But since I will be around for 10 days, I will of course be doing more than maid-of-honoring. I have plans to visit several college friends, spend some time with the fam and even throw a wedding shower for Riva and her fiance, Joe. If you want to see me and haven't already made plans to do so, and I'm not already set up to see you at a wedding-related function, let me know! There is still time to set something up. (And Bubbie, I will reserve a day just for you! We can have Chinese for lunch like old times, or Zadie can make french toast like he promised but probably forgot!) :)
Also, I think I mentioned in my last post that I was looking for a new apartment. Well, good news! This evening my new roommate, Melissa, and I are going to be signing a lease to an apartment in Dyker Heights, which is a quiet neighborhood in Brooklyn that is a mere five subway stops from Coney Island. No end of fun in sight!! It's also about a 45 minute bus ride from school, and a 50 minute train ride to work in Manhattan, both of which are probably much more important than being minutes away from Coney Island.
Anyway, the apartment is in a 3-family brownstone, which is lovingly cared for by the owners, who are so kindly renting the second floor to Melissa and I. It's old-fashioned on the inside, with paneled doors, gorgeous wood floors and what appear to be walnut moldings around the windows and doors. It was one of the very cleanest and well-kept apartments we saw, and let me just say that the entire apartment search probably merits several entries alone. AND the owners are buying a brand new refrigerator to put in the apartment for us!!! Everyone involved has very good feelings about this.
I'll be trying to pack most of my stuff this week, around packing for Iowa on Friday, and am going to try and do a few things at the new apartment before I leave. We're hoping to be settled by the time school starts at the end of August, which brings me to the next Thing:
I begin my 2nd (and hopefully final) year of graduate school at the end of August. Right now I'm scheduled to take History of Jazz, a class that fulfills the music history requirement, which I had to settle for because 20th Century History is not being offered this fall. I'm also taking lessons, of course, and at this point am also set to do orchestra again, although I might agree to be involved in Contempo as well. I'm trying to keep my ensemble commitments contained this semester because I also have to take two very important exams at the end of the semester: the Foreign Language Proficiency exam, and the Comprehensive Exam, both of which are required in order to graduate. I would hate to have to stay an extra semester just because I didn't pass either test, so I'm going to have to brush up on French and make sure I know all of my music history/theory stuff.
Sorry there are no pictures in this entry. Very soon I will have Iowa pictures and wedding pictures and moving pictures and new apartment pictures and all sorts of other pictures to show to you so please pretty please please please please forgive me for not having anything to show you today.....
Thank you and goodnight.
(And, if you're in Iowa or are going to be, than see you soon, I hope!)
Title lyrics by The Killers: Read My Mind (Sam's Town 2006)
Jul 10, 2007
Of course right! First of all, the weather has been very pleasant so far this summer. Apart from a few unspeakably humid days, the temperatures have been very nice.
In case you were wondering, this picture was taken at the end of May. Just to create suspense, I am not going to tell you what this picture concerns, but you are certainly welcome to guess. And if you have any great captions for this picture, feel free to share them.
Anyway. School is out, and I have since performed a couple of concerts with the Musica Bella Orchestra of Manhattan. The first concert was at Riverside Park on June 9. It was a lovely evening for an outdoor concert, and was enthusiastically received by a small but faithful audience. The second concert was a Baroque-ish chamber concert at a church near Prospect Park in Brooklyn at the end of June. My friend Antonio played his Vivaldi bassoon concerto; we also did a Handel organ concerto, some Bach arias, Brahms lieder, and a set of newly composed violin-soprano duets which were written for two sisters that are involved with the group. Again, the concert went very well. I have since been asked to continue my involvement with Musica Bella for the coming concert season, but have not committed to it .... yet.
A couple of weeks ago I decided it was finally time to get going on wedding-related tasks. Among other things, I had to find a dress, which is notoriously a not-easy task for bridesmaids and maids of honor. Fortunately, there is a David's Bridal in Queens, and so my faithful friend Antonio agreed to go with me for what turned out to be an exciting all-day venture.
First I must mention that Brooklyn is not directly accessible to Queens, even though they are on the same land mass. In fact, one must actually take the subway through Manhattan in order to travel between anyplace useful in either borough. In the middle of the long subway ride, Antonio discovered that I had never been to Patelson's Music. So he insisted that we make an emergency detour, which fortunately was off of the same subway we were taking.
So, as it turns out, is Carnegie Hall, which is right next to Patelson's. And do you see what I see? Isaac Stern Place. Very exciting.
Patelson's is THE place to go if you're a musician in the city and in need of music. Despite an unassuming storefront, the inside houses two levels of an astonishing array of books and sheet music for every instrument. Unfortunately, they didn't have any of the pieces I would have wanted to buy, except for the Shostakovich Violin Concerto, which is not readily available in the States due to some Russian copyright issues.
After we'd had our dose of Patelson's, we hopped back on the subway to Queens. It was an uneventful ride, and then a mere 5 minute walk to an asphalt parking lot-ed strip mall sort of thing that would look totally authentic in Iowa. In this strip mall was David's Bridal. As it turns out, it only took about 2 hours to narrow a large selection of bridal gowns down to 3 that would be great. Unfortunately, they only had the 3rd place dress in stock in my size and color, and it was going to take too long to order anything in. Fortunately, a store upstate had dress #2, so after a 10 minute phone call, the dress was on its way to me.
By this time it was early afternoon and Antonio and I were ready for lunch. The next stop of the day was the Queens Center Mall, several more stops into the borough. We decided we couldn't make it that far without something to tide us over, and fortunately there was an ice cream truck parked across the street from the strip mall.
In Iowa, of course, I had never even seen an ice cream truck. Which is really a pity, because they are so cute, driving around with the special jingly ice cream truck music and bringing chilled summery goodness right to you! So of course we stopped so that I could have my first ice cream truck ice cream. We each got a cone, which turned out to be disappointingly small, it was enough to get us to the mall, where we enjoyed a rather large and delicious meal of Thai food.
The rest of the afternoon was rather uneventful. We shopped until we dropped, fully enjoying four gigantic levels of shopping and temptation and end of summer sales, and then we slept on the train all the way back to Brooklyn.
At this point you might be expecting some sort of conclusion or ending to this post, but wait!
It has now been nearly a year since I moved to New York, and once again, I am in the process of apartment-hunting. My lease is up at the end of August, and I'm hoping to move to a cheaper apartment in a nicer, quieter area of Brooklyn. This time around I have the advantage of actually being able to look in person over an extended period of time, which will certainly help. I also found a roommate, which turned out to be a more complicated and prolongued ordeal than I had expected. But we're looking together, and she has the added benefit of having lived in Brooklyn for most of her life, so she actually knows which neighborhoods are nice. I'm hoping we'll find something soon. Things are looking promising.
Title lyrics: Sam's Town, by The Killers (Sam's Town, 2006)
May 22, 2007
Here in this picture you see most of the Baroque ensemble: from left, Ryan (harpsichord), Antonio (front-recorder/bassoon), Louis (pink shirt-cello), Gabi (violin), Adelquis (trumpet) me, and Brian (viola).
Title lyrics by The Used "Blue and Yellow"
May 8, 2007
This past weekend was the world premiere of Tom Cipullo's opera, Glory Denied. It was presented by none other than the Brooklyn College Opera Theater workshop with the Conservatory Orchestra, which of course involves yours truly as concertmistress!
Anyway. The opera is the true story of Colonel Jim Thompson, the longest-held prisoner of the Vietnam War. The opera is unique in that it is based entirely on real dialogue and events. There are only four characters- Old Jim, Young Jim, and Young and Old Alice (Jim's wife). Here are the composer's notes on the opera:
Glory Denied may be the first opera adapted from oral history. As such, it presents no linear narrative. Rather, it jumps from moment to moment, as a man's mind might leap when subjected to horrific stress. Almost all of the dialogue in the opera is taken literally from actual statements by the people involved . . . . Based on a book by Tom Philpott, the opera tells the true story of Colonel Jim Thompson, America's longest-held prisoner of war. The story deals not only with Thompson's suffering in the jungle prisons of Southeast Asia, but also the tragic aftermath that followed his liberation. It is, above all, the story of an American family during one of our nation's most turbulent eras. In its review of Mr. Philpott's book, The New York Times stated:
Indeed it is not too much to say that Glory Denied and Colonel Thompson's mixed feelings about [the book] encapsulate something of the moral essence of the Vietnam War and the imperishable bitterness of its legacy.
The music was quite difficult to learn, both for the performers and the orchestra, but it was well worth it. Saturday night's premiere was rather well attended; composers such as John Corigliano and David del Tredici were supposedly in the audience, along with Tom Cipullo himself. Friday night's dress rehearsal was filmed by the school's Television department, and will be broadcast on the CUNY t.v. network at some point. The New York Times was also present on Friday, and I heard that they would be reviewing the premiere.
The performances really came together, and were exceptionally well received by the audience at both the Saturday night showing and the Sunday matinee. The composer was really enthusiastic about how everything went (he was around for many of the rehearsals this past month) and took the time to tell me (several times) that he thought I was doing a great job with the difficult violin part. Well ... the hardest part for me--the Entr'acte between the first and second scenes of Act II (scored for solo violin, clarinet, cello, bass and piano)-- was omitted, which reduced my stress level by at least half.
I was going to get a picture with Tom Cipullo after Sunday's performance, but it sadly turned out that my camera battery had died sometime over the weekend. Otherwise you would have gotten to see a very relieved Devora standing next to a very pleased Tom Cipullo. Since that obviously won't be happening .... I guess this is the end of the entry.
May 3, 2007
Then there was a movement from Tempest Fantasy, by Paul Moravec, a Pulitzer prize-winning piece for clarinet, violin, cello and piano which is based on Shakespeare's Tempest. It's actually a very pretty movement, and it's a pity that we were only able to perform the one movement.
May 2, 2007
Starting with the movie premiere I attended on Saturday night. As some of you may know, my uncle, Tony Wilson, has been working on The Final Season, an indie film chronicling the final season of Norway, IA's high school baseball team that won an astonishing 20 state championships and also sent a handful of players off to the major leagues before the district was consolidated by the school board. It stars Sean Astin, Rachel Leigh Cook, Powers Boothe and, of course, Tom Arnold. Anyway: the film made it to the Tribeca Film Festival, which my uncle, his family, the 'big' producers, the stars, and a long line of hopefuls all attended Saturday night.
I received a call at work Saturday afternoon from my cousin, who told me that they had an extra ticket for the premiere and would love it if I could come. As you can imagine, I did everything in my power to make sure that I got to leave early to get to Tribeca, to the point where I began to feel a bit like Cinderella trying to get to the ball. But never fear, thanks to the fact that I ran from the subway around City Hall Park in my tall turquoise shoes, I got there just in time. Well .. as it turned out, the viewing was delayed by half an hour because Tom Arnold wouldn't stop talking to the press. But the show finally began, and let me just say, it was incredible. And I'm not just saying that because I'm related to one of the producers. I even got shivers up my spine and teared up near the end. The film was very well received by the audience, and is on the Festival's list of 'encounters,' movies which will provoke conversation. Hopefully the end result of all of this good press will be that a distributor takes on the movie so that it can be released to the general viewing public.
Below: the actors and director discuss the film.
After the movie, the stars made a grand appearance into the theater, and, along with the director, David Mickey Evans, sat onstage and anwered questions. Again, Tom Arnold did most of the talking, with Sean Astin and the director contributing a little bit and Powers Boothe and Rachel Leigh Cooke barely getting in a few words edgewise.
And after that, there was an after-party several blocks uptown on Broadway. Originally I wasn't going to go, because my beautiful turquoise shoes had given me some uncomfortable blisters and I had a lesson the next day, but my cousin, who had returned to the States from a year in Russia for the premiere, begged me to come along so that she'd have somebody to talk to. Not that one can do much talking at this sort of party, but this was the only chance I had to see her, since she was returning to Iowa at the end of the weekend.
So we walked uptown, much to my discomfort, and when we arrived, discovered that the party, which was in a loft, was only accessible by a freight elevator that held eight people at a time. And there was a long line of party-goers wanting to go in. But, because we were with the producers, we got to cut to the front of the line. Which was just as well, because by that time, the loft had nearly reached maximum capacity, and they weren't going to be letting many more people in.
It was quite an affair. There was loud music, an open bar, sushi, and a coat check, where I deposited my shoes. That may or may not have been a mistake, because I was then, beyond any doubt, the shortest person there, which wasn't exactly an advantage. At least no one stepped on me. Anyway, I didn't really know anyone besides my family, and my cousin was off talking to people anyway, so after a glass of wine and some milling about, I decided that the best thing would be for me to return to Brooklyn so that I wouldn't have a terrible lesson the next day. As soon as I decided this, however, some lady got on the mic and announced that Alex Band, former lead singer of The Calling and singer of the theme song from the movie, was going to perform for us. It was very tempting to stay, because the guy has a fantastic voice, particularly live, but my feet really hurt, and I had already said goodbye to my family.
So, I retreived my shoes and a goody bag from the coat check, took the freight elevator back down to street level, and then, after a good fifteen minutes of waving at cabs with passengers, finally found an empty one and rode back to Brooklyn.
Quick sidenote: Some additional information relating to my post are available via text links. Any time you see a bit of text in a different color - on my computer it's blue - you can click on it to go to an outside website and check out more fun/useful/interesting things.
Apr 10, 2007
Mar 5, 2007
Anyway: I arrived last Sunday night to this former synagogue, now church, to find many friends and colleagues and acquaintances who were doing this gig as well. All along I had assumed this was merely a concert of praise songs to be sung in Spanish with a 'daily dose of Bach' in the form of the first movement of a Brandenburg concerto thrown in for good measure. As it turns out--and mind you, I didn't actually discover this until Saturday night at the concert--they were videotaping us so that they could broadcast the performance to all the Spanish-speaking countries of the world sometime in May. So there were bright lights, a cheering, halleluya-ing and amen-ing audience, fog machines, and of course, guitar amps turned up too high.
The real fun will be telling you all of the disorganized bits and pieces which I can ethically include without seeming unprofessional. First off, rehearsal didn't actually start on either Sunday or Friday until nearly 45 minutes after the scheduled time. And then Friday night, due to the lateness of beginning, Zabdiel the singer wanted us to stay late to finish rehearsing. No one wanted to just say no, so instead people kind of mumbled about having to leave, and it was decided that rehearsal would end on time. Of course, at this point we hadn't even rehearsed Brandenburg yet, so the string section had to stay late anyway, though a few juvie violinists did flat-out leave. Given this track record, the people I went with decided that it would be silly to arrive on time on Saturday, since rehearsal would likely start late. So we ended up arriving about half an hour late. Imagine our surprise when we walked in to discover that rehearsal had, in fact, begun on time!
But the adventures didn't stop there. One of the songs on the concert was supposed to be sung by Zabdiel's sister. We hadn't actually rehearsed this until Saturday, at which time it was discovered that no one actually had music for the song. So we scrapped it and, since it had been two hours, we took a break to get ready for the evening. Through hearsay, we were all under the impression that the people in charge were going to be feeding us during this break. So we wandered all around the building, which turned out to be rather convoluted, before finally discovering the remnants of some unappetizing cold pizza in this frigid sort of fellowship hall. So much for dinner.
The concert itself went mostly very well. Or at least, the first half did. After intermission, we were supposed to do the Brandenburg. As luck would have it, there was no audio, so after waiting awhile (presumably to get it fixed), we finally played it. In my opinion, we could just as well have skipped it. Hardly anyone in the audience was paying attention, it seemed, and at the end, we received a huge round of applause because 1.) it was finally over and we could get back to praising the Lord and 2.) it was pretty darn amazing to hear the pianist play 63 measures of counterpoint all by herself on only two brief rehearsals. After Bach, it was back to Zabdiel, and the rest of the concert. Things went smoothly enough until, a song away from the end of the program, this lady in a rather old-school evening gown got up and proceeded to sing in Spanish without any accompaniment. It was Zabdiel's sister, of course. In my opinion, this was another thing that could have been omitted from the program; in fact, I had thought it was. My guess is that, since she got all dressed up anyway, she insisted on singing, even if it was a cappella.
After a great deal of applause, Zabdiel got back onstage to sing what I thought was the last number, except that after we finished the conductor told us to play the first song of the evening as a reprise. So we did. At this point, I was sure the concert was over, but the rhythm section kept playing and Zabdiel kept singing. Finally they all finished, and the preacher got up to make some closing remarks, and then, finally, two hours later, the concert ended on a joyful note.
Feb 28, 2007
Feb 13, 2007
The past few weeks have been quite busy, but have not been without some happy discoveries. For example, I had an errand in the Village two weeks ago, at which time I discovered a fantastic bakery called Rocco's which makes yummy delights such as these:
Jan 31, 2007
Anyway, down to business. This is what my semester looks like....so far.
*Seminar in 20th Century Analysis: Meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:15-1:30. It's supposed to be a graduate course, but half of the class is undergraduates, who apparently are fulfilling some requirement to take advanced coursework. Most of them are vocalists, and so far, most of them don't really know what they're doing. That's the point of the course, I suppose. Anyway, because 20th century music is so very different from the music composed before that time, it became necessary to develop new analytical techniques....which weren't explained in any detail at all in my undergraduate courses, so the material is all new to me. So far it's very interesting and mathematical and....new. Over the course of the semester we'll be learning analytical techniques, analyzing pieces, and also writing papers- due every two weeks, with a larger paper at the end of the semester.
*Baroque chamber ensemble: Meets Tuesday afternoons at 1:30. My friend Antonio, who plays bassoon, is a big fan of early music. Since he also plays recorder, and since he also just happens to be friends with a violinist (me) and a trumpet player, he decided to get a bunch of students together to perform Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #2, which is for violin, recorder/flute, and trumpet. So far everyone (and most of all Antonio) is very excited to be working on this project.
*lessons: Wednesday mornings, with M.K. My first lesson was actually last week. Right now I'm preparing the Mozart concerto for a competition on Friday. After that, I'm pretty sure we'll be moving on to other repertoire, which at this point includes the Franck sonata, Wieniawski dm concerto, and some Bach, probably the bm partita.
*BC orchestra: Meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4. There have been some....personnel issues in my section. My standpartner moved back to L.A. and the guy who sat behind me may or may not be in the group this semester; meanwhile, we gained two new violinists who will hopefully work out. It should be an interesting semester. For the first concert, which will feature the winner of the concerto competition on Friday, we're doing the Poulenc Sinfonietta. Later in the semester, we'll be doing Vaughn-Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem, a world premiere of an opera, and a concert featuring new music written by BC composers in residence with the orchestra.
*Contempo: Meets Monday nights. While I didn't enroll for credit, I did offer to play in the group this semester, since I am rather interested in contemporary music. So, after much discussion about certain details of the group, I finally (officially) re-committed myself yesterday. The professor isn't quite sure what exactly we'll be performing, but Moravec's Tempest Fantasy is a strong possibility. There's also a composer/accordion player in Contempo, who the professor is encouraging to either transcribe or compose things for the group.
*Janacek piano concerto: Has yet to meet. I was approached by a pianist in the department before break about playing for this. It's a concerto (I think) but instead of being played by a full orchestra, the accompaniment is a chamber ensemble, with a string quartet and some woodwinds. We'll see how that goes.
Welll.... I think that's about everything. As you can see, I'm considerably busier than last semester, but I'm very excited about everything to which I've committed to for the next few months.
So these are my schemes/ And these are my plans: lyrics from "Break It Down," by Tears for Fears
Jan 23, 2007
Meanwhile, for all of you who are secretly curious to know more about my school, or who want to see more, or who simply like Law & Order: an episode was filmed on the campus of Brooklyn College, and will be airing at 10/9 central on Friday, February 2 on NBC.
Jan 12, 2007
Now that I'm back in New York, I have made a couple of very pleasant discoveries. For one thing, there appear to be no more mice in my apartment. Finally. It's always stressful going into my kitchen, since I'm always on guard in case there are mice or droppings. But so far since I've been back, and while I've been away, I am very happy to report that there is no evidence of mice. Yet.
The second thing is that I have finally been able to check my grades. None of them are what I expected they would be. Which is probably a good thing: A+ in orchestra, A+ in Style Criticism (which, if I may remind you, was almost entirely my final exam), A+ in Contempo, and A in my lessons.