August 5, 2008

Havanaise, and Understanding

Well...these blogs are such funny things. I WAS planning to write many things about myself (as that's what blogs are supposed to be for, right?) but have to start with having had the opportunity to sit in on a piano rehearsal of Aida featuring the cover cast, led by Maestra Karen Keltner and accompanied by pianist Stephen Carey.

In the four years that I have been coming to Logan, Utah to play with the Utah Festival Opera I have indeed enjoyed playing under Karen and thoroughly enjoy watching her rehearse singers, as both her level of knowledge and commitment to the craft are truly astounding. During the act to which I listened (and I will, should time allow, be going back into the next room to hear the rest) I saw another facet of this woman, that being the very positive and (if I may) nurturing professional. Having played orchestral excerpts for Ms. Keltner in the past I was of course "not surprised", but I WAS also surprised and filled with a deep sense of gratitude to be reminded that in this wacky business that we call musicmaking there are still people like Ms. Keltner who not only understand all of an artist's transition points and takes - graciously - the role of being the guide.

Listening to this group of artists I was also reminded of what Jorja Fleezanis meant many years ago, but now - at age 37 - I understand (a bit more) the concept of keeping sound alive...

...which brings me to a recent (yesterday) performance of Camille Saint-Saens' Havanaise that I gave on one of the Logan Tabernacle Concerts....This is a piece that I performed first in a competition and later in a recital during my undergraduate. Then (this was 1994) I had the great privilege to take a lesson with Fredell Lack - and also met Kenneth Goldsmith (and life took a pretty healthy turn then). I have since played this piece in recital twice, those times being in 2007 during the Columbia Festival of the Arts, and decided to give it a go again this summer.

Being a violinist (and I'm sure that many of you will understand these thoughts) I found myself fretting a bit about the tempo of the second page and the issue of clarity AND the sixth and seventh pages (which are filled with chromatic thirds, sixths, and tenths, all to be played at a pretty rapid clip). Doing these drills was of course beneficial, but I do have to say - humbly - that I found myself somewhat stymied when playing the "easy parts": HOW do I keep the sound from dying on the long notes? How do I NOT play this as if it's simply an exercise in making clear differences between triplets and eighth notes?

Well, after listening to the recording, I guess I accomplished part of my task...but now, after this afternoon's trip into Verdi's vision of Egypt, I know...for the next time...

More from the road,

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