Saturday, May 31, 2014

mystery in Erik Satie (hmm didn't quite rhyme...)

Hey guys,
So as promised, I wanted to post the poem that was the inspiration for Satie to write the Gymnopedies.
But before that, I guess I never mentioned to you that these pieces (there are three of them, and we are only doing the "first" one. Actually the order of these three pieces are not exactly standardized but we will call it the first one because that's what it says in our printed version...) are originally written for piano solo, and as far as Satie was concerned, he would've been happy with just the piano version.

It is thanks to his friend, Claude Debussy, who took it upon himself to orchestrate these pieces, that us orchestra musicians can enjoy them. And we should be especially thankful for Debussy was of course, one of the best orchestrators (and a composer), to ever walk the face of this Earth. Of course for our purpose, I had to fiddle around a bit with the orchestration, so our version is slightly "tainted" by me...

Anyway, here's the poem:
Oblique et coupant l'ombre un torrent éclatant
Ruisselait en flots d'or sur la dalle polie
Où les atomes d'ambre au feu se miroitant
Mêlaient leur sarabande à la gymnopédie
(for those who know a little French)
Slanting and shadow-cutting a flickering eddy
Trickled in gusts of gold on the shiny flagstone
Where the atoms of amber in the fire mirroring themselves
Mingled their sarabande with the gymnopaedia

by J.P. Contamine de Latour (1867–1926)

Pretty image, right?
Was this close to what you had in mind?

It is interesting because the music, to me, reminded me of snow falling, rather than fire flickering...
But the slow dance ("sarabande") part is the same. In my imagination, those snow flakes would twirl around in a happy slow dance before it hits the ground and melt away.

So the poem compares the flickering of the light to that dubious word "Gymnopedie". I guess, in a way, that is another reason why they are beautiful (both the music and the poem),Becuase we don't know what the word means, everything is entirely up to our imagination.

Now do this. Read the poem and listen to the piece at the same time.
See if it changes things. See if it (either the music or the poem, or even both) has a clearer image.

One more rehearsal to go! Let's do this!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Reflections on Chamber's concert last week

So I thought the concert went really really well last week. You should all be super proud of what you accomplished.  I hope you gave yourself some kind of small reward for it for you deserve it. I did :) (I treated myself with good food while listening to good music)

I thought the way we opened the program (by starting Prokofiev without waiting fir the applause) was pretty effective and cool. It was a tad faster than I really would've liked it (completely my fault, as I was affected by the adrenaline), but it wouldn't have made any difference to the audience.  Maybe it was a good thing,  for I thought we sounded energetic and impressive.

Bravo to the quintet! You guys pulled it off amazingly despite of the almost impossible circumstance. All the technical stuff were there.
But a small ensemble like that needs to be more intimate, and more personal. In order to achieve that, a group really needs to spend a lot of time playing together.

The Bulgarian Song was awesome. Good energy, good ensemble (despite the unusual meter), first violins nailing the high notes,  great various sound effects through out, and great tempi (that's plural of "tempo", just in case you are confused...), I think the audience was quite impressed by that number!

With the Ravel, I realized that I just can't play solo comfortably in a tight physical space... I need more room... But that's a good thing to realize so I can tell you that, next time you need to take a solo for anything, make sure you have enough physical space around you, so you can be physically comfortable :)  Other than that, the change of pace seemed effective, so that was nice, but I think we need to pay more attention on starting and ending the phrases together. It is way more noticeable when the music is slow.

I do love collaboration of any kind. It just spices things up and give new inspiration and unique experience to all parties involved. I think those Rockit! kids were really cool. I just love their willingness to be involved with things. It is perfectly ok to be impressed by kids your own age. I am positive we impressed them tremendously too. Let's keep this good cycle going!

And yay! to the Brandenburg! I loved your focus during this piece! A little scary moment the day before,  but I figured that it really was just the acoustic of that dance studio that confused us. I noticed that every time we are in that space, our ensemble is weaker. Same thing happens to CYO too. So I might have been a little scared at that rehearsal, but in the end, I decided that it was nothing for us to worry about.  I hope you weren't too scared playing it. I don't think you were. The experience we had the day before was probably a good thing, for it seemed to me that we were all focusing super hard on staying together, which is what we should be doing all the time anyway!  And that piece is always just super fun to play. I'm really happy we are doing it. And we get to do it again in June! Let's shoot for even a higher level of performance then!

Great job, guys.

P.S. And thank you and good job to those who volunteered to do the MC's! 
I really appreciate your willingness to do extra for the good of the group! 

P.P.S. And Bravo! to Chloe and Anna who played every single piece in the whole concert (with Chloe on two different instruments), and double Bravo! to Anna who learned all 7 pieces of the chamber program in just TWO days!! Way to go girls!

Monday, May 5, 2014

the magic

Dates: April 24th and May 5th 2014
Orchestra: CYO

I am so glad that you guys find reading through a brand new piece for the first time with your friends in orchestra, "fun"!
Does that mean that you can now include "sight reading music" in the list of "fun activities to do with friends? I think you should! Next time your friends come over, put your video game controllers down, set your computer to sleep, put your cell phones away, and pick up your instruments!

Finding the music for The Sound of Music downstairs in the storage room among tons of filing cabinets, felt a bit more than a sheer chance to me. At first I wasn't sure, but when we started to read through it, I realized that this indeed was the exact same version I had played when I was nine years old as one of the first pieces I have ever played in an orchestra, along with the Beethoven Egmont overture, the L'Arsienne Suites (Bizet), and Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake (which we did last year). These are the pieces that gave me the biggest impact on me, and I remember the whole experience to this day.

I had not seen the sheet music for The Sound of Music since that time, but something led me to find it that week. For me to revisit it, and share it with people again. After contemplating on the whole event for a week, I decided that it was meant to be, and so I decided to put it in our program for this year's last concert.

I hope that this magic catches many of you. Let it affect you. Let it transform you. The magic of sound, music, and joy.