Sep 15, 2007

Update 3: In Which Devora Begins Her Final Year of School

... we hope.

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.

Misc. commitments:

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

Update 2: Devora Does Iowa

For Update 1, go back one entry. If you've already read Update 1, then by all means, continue reading!!!

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.

Thursday was the rehearsal dinner. Before that, Riva, Chrissie and I, as well as our mom and Joe's mom, all went and had manicures and pedicures done at the local mall. The wedding rehearsal went spectacularly, at which time Riva figured out how she wanted things, and we timed out the processional for a purpose which I shall explain in a minute. Having practiced both processing and recessing a couple of times, we then went on to the rehearsal dinner, which was held at Greenbriar.

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!

Update 1: Moving Day

The first of many updates! SO MUCH has happened since my last post.

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

I'm so much older than I can take

Well. Here I am at long last.

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!!