Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ballet, Bartok, and the Johannes String Quartet!

CJ Chang, Me, Peter Stumpf, Cicely, and Soovin Kim

Me, Jessica Lee, and Cicely

Hi everyone,

October was a busy month, but we got to play some very exciting and fun performances! It was nice to return home for our concert with the Schenectady Symphony; this was my first time performing the Barber Concerto with orchestra, and what a thrilling experience it was! This piece has always been very special to me, so it was like a dream come true to perform it fully realized.

The next weekend, I got the chance to do something a little different - work with the IU Ballet! For someone who took ballet lessons all through childhood, it was exciting to see up close the process of real dancers putting a production together - and of course, to be a part of it on the music side! Their opening performance featured the work of a variety of American choreographers, one of whom, Twyla Tharp, set her work "Noir" to the violin duets of Bartok. This was the very first time "Noir" had been performed with live music! I remember playing these very charming duets a long time ago with my wonderful teacher, Betty-Jean Hagen, so it was great to bring them back again with Tim Kantor. We had some interesting moments working out tempos with the dancers; they definitely keep you on your toes! But in the end, we got the timing just right, and the Herald Times critic even gave us a complimentary sentence in the review – our rendition of the Bartok was "compellingly played!" As you musicians understand, it always feels good to hear some encouraging words from the press.

Speaking of Tim, our quartet performed for the first time together last week; we got the chance to play in a masterclass for the Johannes String Quartet, who were here in Bloomington for the week and performed an amazing concert today. They are such extraordinary musicians! Soovin Kim and CJ Chang were the masters of the class, and I think we benefited greatly from their brilliant and insightful feedback. Also, we've been so busy rehearsing in small- to medium-sized practice rooms that it was very fulfilling for us all to finally hear ourselves in a concert hall.

Bloomington finally feels like autumn now; say hello to sweaters, hot cocoa, and pumpkin pies!

All for now.