Dec 25, 2008

Happy holidays!

Working furiously on applications, the first of which is due January 1st.


*ahem* I just wanted to wish all of you a very happy holiday season, filled with good company, good health and, of course, good food! For those of you who are traveling, I also wish you very safe travels!

Ok. Back to business.

Dec 3, 2008

Here I am!

Geez. *looks away sheepishly* So it's been a really long time. A really really REALLY reallyreallyreallyreallyreally long, long time.


A close friend of mine wondered aloud over the summer how on earth I'd manage to keep busy this fall. He needn't have worried: I haven't posted in awhile, so I've been doing something. Right?


In October, my friends and I-- otherwise known as dfe-- played a concert at Yippie Museum and Cafe. I think I may have mentioned this in my last entry. I wore an awesome dress (pictures are below) and shoes, and performed well. Our concert was attended by Noah Creshevsky, a famous electronic composer and founder of the Center for Computer Music at Brooklyn College. I thought that was pretty cool. Our show was a success, and we're planning another one in February at a venue in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) called Monkey Town.

The top picture is dfe: John, Nick, devo (me) and Marie. John's girlfriend Emily was taking a picture at the same time as Marie's girlfriend Dawne, which is why half of us are looking away in this photo!

Below is Marie, Elanor (an AWESOME soprano), me, and Moshe (in front), the now-famous composer I repeatedly mention on this blog.

Speaking of Moshe--and Nick--- the BC composition recitals are coming up the next two Mondays. I'm playing solo violin/electronics pieces for both Nick and Moshe, plus a piano/clarinet/violin trio for another good friend, Whitney. Last night I found out another bit of awesome news, and that is that Whitney wants to write a solo violin piece for me to play on her recital next semester. The Solo Violin Project lives on!!!

I have one private violin student this fall. She's progressing rather quickly, probably because she takes practicing and lessons so seriously.

As for the rest of my students --- the Harmony Program is progressing. The director has hired additional teachers, so I have lots of support for the violin class and also musicianship. This is a very good thing, because they're quite a handful!

As some of you already know, I won't be coming to Iowa for the winter holidays this year. I don't have a very long break from teaching the kids (12/23-1/4), and as I just got promoted at work, must stick around in case they need me (let's face it- they probably will). Also, one of the programs for which I'm applying is a DMA program in contemporary music. One of the application requirements is a 45-minute audition recording. I plan to scrape together previous new music recordings from the past few years, as well as record some of the Solo Violin Project pieces. Since this particular application is not due until January 5, I plan to record sometime around Christmas. Which needs I need to be here and practicing. Gah. I'll miss seeing all of you very much!

Anyway. Life is exciting and busy as always, and now it's time for me to catch the train and go to another rehearsal.

Happy December everybody!

Sep 21, 2008

Happy birthday come and gone

Happy birthday to me! and a lot of other people. September really is a busy month for birthdays.

Thanks to all of you who expressed well wishes for my 'day.' They will be acknowledged, in the form of thank-you notes, very soon.

Now you are wondering what I did to celebrate. Still not big on my own birthday-ing, but I did go out with a few coworkers for drinks the weekend before, and attended a dinner party hosted by some friends a few days later. A fundamentally shy person (still), this was enough celebrations, even given my recent age.

I am now 25. GAH! I tend to freak out to the point of ridiculousness over my age, every single year. But think about it: 25 is the oldest I have ever been (so far). And there are so MANY things I want to pack into what will hopefully be a long and fulfilling life.....

Anyway. I shall keep my philosophical musings about this to myself, I think.

Things in general are pretty swell. The past week-ish at work, I've been training new baristas to make drinks, which is a step on the way to becoming a supervisor. New manager likes me quite a bit, which doesn't hurt anything, either.

A few days after my birthday, I found out I had been hired as an after-school instructor for the Harmony music program at PS 152 near Brooklyn College. Saturday afternoon, a decent-sized crowd of parents and their enthusiastic second and third graders converged in the recital hall of BC to hear more about the program and witness instrument demonstrations by the instructors.

Of the five of us teachers, I think I did the best all-around job of showing the kids some of the many sounds a violin could make. And then I played a Piazzolla tango etude for them, the same one that concluded my recital. They all loved it: Piazzolla is awesome. Those kids never had a chance (afterwards I think about 70% of them swarmed me to be measured for an instrument and to try playing mine).

The next several Fridays, I will be attending development workshops to learn appropriate skills for working with second and third graders, and then the program officially 'begins' on Monday, October 20.

In the meantime, I am working on setting up my private teaching studio for the year. So far I have two new students, and one of the Harmony program parents has already approached me about setting up lessons for her daughter, assuming all goes well this fall.

Last really interesting thing: some of my school friends and I forged a new music ensemble last spring, called dfe. Fate, busy schedules and (my) large quantities of concerts hindered our progress on this, but we've been meeting regularly this fall and are working on putting together our first official show, which is at 8pm on October 25.

We're all really excited about it. My three friends are all composers, so the bulk of the concert will feature some of their recent works; part of the program is devoted to my Solo Violin Project, and the rest will feature other emerging Brooklyn College composers. We are all really excited. Have I mentioned that yet?

If this concert goes well, we hope to present one or two similar concerts later in the school year, as well as possibly presenting a (new) string quartet concert and some vocal works (three- count 'em, THREE- sopranos are on board for the 10/25 show, even though we only have one vocal piece for one vocalist).

That about sums things up for now. It definitely comes as a relief that there is no shortage of things to keep me occuppied despite being out of school .......

Sep 1, 2008

September cometh

Another embarrassingly long time since posting, I see. Ah well, things have been exciting and busy as usual.

Most recent happening: I *finally* finished submitting grades for summer session a few days ago. Eighty exams, plus an accompanying pile of last-minute submissions, is no easy mountain of paper to get through! Anyway, the majority of my students passed and actually did rather well.

Though I am not teaching this fall, I've heard rumored whispers that I'll be reappearing as Professor Geller in spring semester, '09. Something to look forward to.

In the meantime: last weekend I saw most of y'all in Iowa. I was back 4-ish days, which turned out to be almost exactly the right length of time (this time, at least) for a visit. I say this because it was just long enough to get away from New York, but not too long that I started to get anxious over all the work I had waiting for me when I got back. Obviously it would have been nice to see everyone a lot more than I did, but my life is in New York, after all.

As promised, Zadie made french toast for brunch on Sunday, and it was SO. GOOD. This was definitely one of the best parts of the weekend. I also got to see my cousin Jessica, who was back for about a month from being in Russia. Another interesting thing is that I made three lemon meringue pies from scratch, which were much admired by the people who proceeded to eat them!

I had quite a time leaving Des Moines, though- my outgoing flight was delayed several hours, which meant that Northwest had to rebook everyone on the flight. Instead of flying through Detroit and arriving in Brooklyn around 12:30, I flew through Minneapolis, had a 3 hour layover, and arrived in Brooklyn around 3.

The following three pictures depict what I did to pass the time in Minneapolis:

Upon my return, there was much grading, of course. There was also a really good interview (I think) with an after-school teaching program at an elementary school near Brooklyn College. I won't find out if I got the job for another few weeks, though.

I made dinner for my friends one night, and made another lemon meringue pie which was also perfect.

The most interesting thing, though, is the talk I had with my advisor last week. As some of you know, this year will be interesting for me because I'm not in school and not looking for a grown-up job. Instead, I'll be applying for admission to doctoral programs, and with any luck, will begin work on my phd in the fall of 2009. Anyway: my advisor and I were discussing doctoral programs, and she'll be helping me through the application process.

Some schools I'll be looking at:

UC Davis
Wash U
Bowling Green
CUNY Grad Center (backup)

Eeek! This is kind of scary and exciting all at the same time. These are some of the top-notch programs in the country, and my advisor actually thinks I can get in. I hope I get in!

As I rapidly approach the quarter century (only 8 days away), it occurs to me that I have absolutely none of the things in life by which most other people measure happiness and success: a husband, a family, a 'real' job, etc. I do, however, have a master's degree, an ever-growing number of friends, admirers, adoring fans and well-wishers, and a hell of a lot of prospects in my very near future. And happiness.

Happiness is something which is definitely NOT underrated.

Anyway- happy Labor Day to all! It was wonderful to see all of you last weekend, and I look forward to the next time around!

Jul 16, 2008

aaand I'm back

Hi everyone ....

Ok, so it’s been an obnoxiously, EMBARASSINGLY long time since the last time I posted some news about myself on here. Heinously horrible. I really must try and do better.

There is an oft-used adage that no news is good news, and I assure you that that is definitely the case here.

Well, a few big things:

I graduated in May. My mom and Riva came out to visit for the week, and we had a time visiting the Empire State building, Union Square (where I work), Broadway for a musical, Guggenheim Museum, and of course good food and visiting. Graduation day was May 29, and was very sunny and warm. I got a really odd sunburn on my forearms, but other than that greatly enjoyed the fact that I’m officially done with school for at least a little while.

I’m teaching college classes at Brooklyn College. There are 80 undergraduates who call me Professor Geller and with whom I discuss music. Teaching is turning out to be really awesome, and I’m really excited that they are starting to apply the concepts that I am explaining. Today we discussed famous classical pieces which are prominent in mass media, and by my own estimation (judging, in other words, from the sheer number of hands that were raised between the two classes), class participation was around 70%. My advisor is excited at my delight in what I’m doing, and thinks I’ve found my calling.

While there are still many other things I still want to do as a grown-up adult, I do enjoy teaching. And the subsequent boost to my ego which results from so many people calling me Professor doesn’t hurt anything at all!

What’s next: At this point many things are up in the air. With any luck I’ll get to continue teaching at Brooklyn College, but since I’m not full-time faculty, I would only get, at most, three classes per semester, the money from which is not quite enough to make all the ends meet. Unfortunately. Once September rolls around, I’m going to be working on building my teaching studio. Between now and then I’ve begun rehearsing music for my friend Moshe, a fabulous composer whose piece B’dameyich Cha’yi you can find at the top of this blog. Anyway. Moshe is going to present a recital of his music in the fall, and in the meantime is working on getting some good recordings of his pieces, which he is ultimately planning to distribute independently. Music from his rock band, Eden, is already available on iTunes. With any luck, Moshe’s recital will be a grant opportunity, which means we would be able to get money to keep performing and maybe also tour. So yet another thing I’ll be doing is learning how to write good grants that will result in people with lots of money sharing some of it for this really awesome project.

I am coming to Iowa in August. Briefly. For an extended weekend. But returning nonetheless. I am very excited to see everyone, particularly Zadie, who I think has promised (or maybe Bubbie promised on Zadie’s behalf) that there will be French toast. I haven’t had good French toast in ages, and it is definitely not for lack of opportunities to have it around the city!

Ha ha.

Anyway, I am really looking forward to returning for a bit. It will have been eight months since I’ll have been back, which is an admittedly long time. And I fully intend to show off my pie-making skills, so all of you who like lemon meringue pie (which is the only kind of pie I know how to make, actually), should start anticipating the homemade version. My recipe is pretty good, if I do say so.

Anyway. I am on the train home from Manhattan as I type, and in the process of writing tomorrow’s quiz for my classes. Back to the grind!

I really will try and be better about posting here. In the meantime, I hope you all are doing well and enjoying life!

Apr 19, 2008

an update of epic proportions

Hello everyone!

I am noticing that it has been exactly one month since I last updated. This seems funny because, after rereading what I had been up to, those things seem to have happened a very long time ago! But I digress. I have many things to share, so I suppose I had best get started .....

1. Brooklyn College Orchestra: We had three concerts in the span of a week, which seems like a lot. March 27 was the actual orchestra concert, which featured the Conservatory Concerto Competition winner, who in this case performed Mozart's G Major Violin Concerto. The other big piece on the program involved the choir as well: we performed Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. On March 29 the music department sponsored its first Brooklyn College Choir festival in Manhattan. Three high school choirs performed a few selections each, culminating with all three choirs plus the BC Chamber choir presenting Chichester Psalms again. April 3 was the second annual President's Concert, a glorified fund-raising event which showcases a number of ensembles and musicians in the department. And the orchestra, being the most involved ensemble in the conservatory, had the unique privilege of sitting onstage the entire concert (which was televised) in order to perform with the Opera Theater folks and the Concerto Competition winner.

At left is a picture from last year's President's Concert, and you can easily see yours truly sitting right behind the pianist, Angelo, who was last year's concerto competition winner.

The President's Concert was also my last concert as concertmaster of the orchestra. In light of the many endeavors I undertook this semester, I decided to step down in order to refocus my energy to the things that are actually important to me. Like new music!

2. Ensemble du Monde: If you recall I performed with this group in January at Merkin Hall. That concert was great fun, and I met a very interesting composer and got to play great music and all sorts of other exciting things. The director/conductor was really impressed by me, and invited me back to play the April concert, which featured late Romantic/20th century Austrian music. The concert was April 2, exactly a week before my recital. We played Verklerte Nacht (Transfigured Night) by Arnold Schoenberg, Songs of A Wayfarer by Gustav Mahler, and a violin concerto by Hans Gall. It was a particularly demanding program, but very well received by the audience.

3. Brooklyn College Conservatory Prep Center: I don't think I've previously mentioned this, so I'd best explain. At the beginning of the semester I began a sort of assistantship with the Conservatory's pre-college program. Every Saturday, I spend an hour and a half rehearsing and assisting with two chamber ensembles. We are coached by Kalin Ivanov, who was my chamber coach last semester and a very amazing person to work with. On April 5 both groups performed on a chamber concert and did an excellent job. I should mention that the students I've worked with range in age from about 10-11 to 16, which often causes me to remember my own experiences at that age. It has definitely been really rewarding to play with them and help them to become fantastic chamber players.

4. My recital: I was extraordinarily stressed out in the six weeks leading up to April 9. My accompanist was away from the middle of March until the day before my recital. I found this out the day before he left, at which point we had only rehearsed one of the pieces on my program. This ultimately meant I had to take very unique (and desperate) measures in order to really learn everything: having my friends (who aren't "serious" pianists) sightread my accompaniments so that I could actually play through things before my one real rehearsal, as well as obsessively listening to recordings of my entire program downloaded to my ipod. The recital itself went well enough, and I had a decently sized, very enthusiastic crowd, and I passed, which means I do get to graduate next month, so what else could I possibly ask for?

Well, that just about brings us up to today. This week is spring break, but don't be fooled into thinking I am any less busy! Aside from working, I will be learning the vast amounts of music I will be responsible for knowing in the coming weeks, doing some serious spring cleaning (having a cat around definitely makes things a bit ... hairy. ha ha!), working on a Philosophy of Music paper that is due soon, and hopefully working in a nap or two.....

After spring break I have an astonishing seven concerts before the end of the semester: contempo, two opera performances, two composer's concerts, Graduate Center contemporary ensemble, and a reading session for the composers in residence with the orchestra. I have a staggering amount of music to learn this week, but I am extremely excited about each and every one of these concerts.

And now you are probably wondering what I will be doing after that. After that as in, after I graduate. While I've had to put off the bulk of that question until now, I do have the beginnings of a plan which I will share for you in my next entry, which I will be posting in the next few days.

Really. Did you want me to keep going? This update is already kind of epic! And the next one will be, too. Trust me.

Happy Passover!

Mar 19, 2008

aspiring to more than I can accomplish

Well, well, well. Life is so busy these days that sometimes I sort of forget I have a blog to update. That and so many things are happening all at once that it's surprisingly difficult to articulate what exactly I've been up to.

My roommate and I went out Monday night in honor of St. Patrick's Day. We avoided the sure- to-be- crowded Irish pubs, favoring instead a couple of laid-back bars in Park Slope: Loki Lounge (just down the street from Aunt Suzie's where I celebrated my birthday) and Sepia, which is tucked away behind Grand Army Plaza.

A few of my school friends came out, as well as some of my roommate's coworkers; though the closest we came to green drinks were apple martinis, a very good time was had by all.

In other news, rehearsals and most of the other big things going on this semester are in full swing and I am having quite the time attempting to juggle everything and still have time to practice for my recital *GASP!* which is now less than two weeks away.

The new music fun is starting up again. Besides the new music ensembles at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, I was recently involved with two pieces composed by my friends for the Electro-Acoustic Music Festival at school. One piece featured some stuff I had recorded for my friend a few weeks ago, which she then edited and looped as background music against a reading of Willa Cather's "Paul's Story" plus some live vocals. The other piece, entitled "Death Metal Simic," was inspired by the random poetry of Charles Simic, as set to music in a horribly mismatched rock band featuring Franz Liszt reincarnated (pianist); an opera diva; two wannabe guitarists; the future Charles Mingus (jazz player), and a metal head, of course. I think maybe you just had to be there, because I can't quite articulate what that performance was like.

Anyway. There is undoubtedly more I could share with you, but I have a recital for which to practice!!!

Feb 23, 2008

In which Devora visits Carnegie Hall, and many other things

Hello everyone!

As always, exciting things are afoot and I have many interesting things to share.

First of all, that lovely snow-free streak has officially been broken. While it has snowed a few times in New York this winter, it has never accumulated. Until yesterday. It snowed and snowed and SNOWED on Friday, and there are still piles of white stuff everywhere, though some of it is melting away.

The first orchestra concert of the semester was Thursday. Despite a shortened rehearsal schedule, the orchestra performed admirably. Now of course, it's on to the next set of repertoire for the March concert, which is the second of a whopping seven performances this semester. We'll be performing Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, among other things.

Now, for some exciting stuff. Kronos Quartet, which I mentioned in October, played at Carnegie Hall on Friday night. I was excited like you would not believe, except that when I went to call the box office to buy my ticket a few days before the concert, they were completely sold out!! I was rather heartbroken. However, my friend Seth got called in at the last minute to play on a recital next door, in Weill Hall. He invited me and another friend to use his comp tickets, which we did.

Funnily enough, Seth actually got to meet the cellist of Kronos when they were both walking in to rehearse on Thursday. Seth is a huge Kronos fan as well, and is actually going to California in April to work with the founding cellist of Kronos. Current cellist gave Seth his most fabulous business card, and told him to look them up when he gets to California. Ah, but I digress.

The recital was given by Karen Parks, a soprano. She just released a CD, which is No.2 on the classical charts, and this concert was apparently promoting her album. The program featured music by African-American composers, and tastefully included several art songs in contrast to the spirituals. She was fantastic! Her outfits were fantastic! And Seth, who played only one song, was fantastic as well!

While the audience was far from being full, there was a very good turnout, and Ms. Parks got clapped back onstage twice to give encores.

Afterwards, Seth, Louis and I were quite hungry, so we wandered down the street to Angelo's Pizza, where we feasted on spaghetti e pollo cacciatore. We ordered the family size portion, and were all ridiculously full by the time we finished. A considerable while after that, we all finally made our way back to Brooklyn to turn in for the evening.

More exciting news: I apparently made a very good impression in January when I performed with Ensemble du Monde at Merkin Hall. The conductor likes me, and just invited me back for their next concert, which is April 2. The big piece on the program is Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht. I think the theme is Austrian composers, or something interesting like that, because the other composer on the program is Mahler. Anyway, I really enjoyed my last stint with du Monde, and am pretty excited to have been invited back. And the Schoenberg piece is a fantastic one to be able to say I've played.

Not much else going on right now. I am very busy, and am going to be extremely busy as of the beginning of March. My recital is about a month away, and there are so many things that are happening all around it! It's a good thing that busy-ness equals happiness for me, otherwise I might go to pieces!! I've also been in touch with many composers in the past few weeks, which makes me very happy; there are numerous performance possibilities for new and exciting works in the coming months. I cannot think of many things more exciting than collaborating with composers and performing new music, and can't wait to get my recital out of the way so that I can really dive in!

Well, that wraps it up for today. I hope you all are doing well and having a lovely time with whatever you are up to!

Feb 5, 2008

In which quite a bit is revealed

Well you probably won't believe this, but I was meaning to post an entry on January 27th. Why, you ask, would I have intended to post specifically on that date?

If you look to your left you'll see a concert flyer for Ensemble du Monde. They gave a performance the evening of January 26th at Merkin Hall, which is across the street from Lincoln Center. And I played with them!!!

It was a really spectacular concert. I must say, though, that Merkin Hall is not as large as I had expected. Nevertheless, the audience was about half full, which is pretty good considering that the New York Philharmonic was doing a concert right across the street!

We premiered a piece by an African composer, "FredO," who wrote a Meditation for Darfur. It was a very moving experience, both for the performers and the audience, who, for at least a minute after the piece had finished, sat in silence because they did not know how to acknowledge such a powerful work.

The rest of the concert consisted of Copland's Appalachian Spring and de Falla's El Amor Brujo. The soloist was Lori Kaye, and she was fabulous!!!

The whole experience was very exciting to me for many reasons. First, it was Merkin Hall, playing contemporary music with a professional ensemble. In addition to that, though, I had the privilege of meeting the composer. He came to some of the rehearsals, and we talked a bit about the piece. He's incredibly inspiring, and actually took a liking to me! After the concert he told me he hoped to work with me again (and no, I don't think he said that to anyone else).  Like I said, very exciting and tremendously good.

Since that concert, school has started again, and I am back in the seeming center of chaos, even busier, if that's possible, than last semester!!
Three composers have begun writing for me. One has almost finished his piece, and is submitting it in a composer's competition. One is about half way done, one is just beginning, one hasn't quite begun yet, and yet another one felt left out  because two of his friends are writing pieces for me, so he wrote a piece too!! So now there are five composers, where before there were only four.  My philosophy class is going very well. I haven't had any experience discussing aesthetics, which happens to be the specialty, if you will, of my professor. The course is cross-listed four ways: as graduate/undergraduate, philosophy/music. So there is a fair mix of this combination, which makes for very interesting discussion.

Oh yes! One more thing. I now have a recital date. It is Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 at 7pm. Exciting! And stressful!

I think that is all of my news for now. Life is unfolding at an excitingly fast pace these days, and I'm sure I'll have more things to tell you about rather soon! 

Jan 10, 2008

Now's your chance to shine, and have the pleasure of saying what you mean

Hello everyone!!

First of all, happy new year. I hope everyone had fantastic holidays, and got to spend as much quality time with family as I did! Since I just saw most of you a couple weeks ago, I'm not really feeling the need to recap my entire visit back to Iowa. Despite a shorter stay, I managed to see just about everyone on my list of people-to-see, as well as doing some other things as well!

Among the highlights of the trip were getting some work done on my violin, which now looks and sounds pretty spectacular; reading two books, Confederacy of Dunces, by John O'Toole, and Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov; getting some much-needed r & r; and, perhaps the most fun of all, fiddling around with Grandpa's new TomTom, which managed to amuse just about everybody who was in the car and that heard about it later.

Despite all the fun to be had in Iowa (because really, we all know how much I enjoy copious piles of snow), I really was glad to get back to New York. For one thing, I'm anxious to dig in again with my recital music (passed my recital jury, by the way), and also really get going on the Solo Violin Project. But most exciting of all is a new music performance with Ensemble du Monde at the end of January at Merkin Hall, which is part of Lincoln Center! I am really going out of my mind with excitement on this one, because it's such a fantastic opportunity, and all thanks to my wonderful friend Seth, who passed my name along to the director! Anyway, the concert is to raise awareness about Dharfur, and the main piece on the program was written by Sudan's leading composer, Fred Onovwerosuoke. Super, super exciting!

Title lyrics by Morrissey