... 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.
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.