Saturday, June 21, 2008

Celli

Tonight, I got to rehearse with a new group that I'm in. It's a cello quartet (cool, no?) and two of the cellists are Julliard graduates (cello performance majors)! Man, they were GOOD! It was such a blast! My mom is the other cellist in the group; I just love playing with her in general. We sync well.

I felt so honored to be able to play with the Julliard graduates. And they said that I did a good job (even though my 6th position was a little shaky). I surprised myself when I sight-read fluently in treble clef. :)

They even liked my cello! I was so surprised. They didn't notice my Mom's cello as much (which is more expensive and rare, etc). They liked mine. I absolutely LOVE my cello. It was so nice to hear other people talking about how much they liked it.

The Julliard people (oh, their names are Matt and Stacie by the way) had cellos from the 1700s! They said, "Oh, our cellos are old" and I thought they meant 50 years ago old. I didn't know they meant 300 years ago old! Wow! The instruments were in great shape considering.

It was just so refreshing to play with such talented people. We didn't worry about intonation or technique...we just played. There were moments when we just gelled and it was glorious. It was one of those moments when you're like, "THIS is why I love being a musician!"

Also, Stacie was so nice. I was commenting on her Bartoli CDs and she just gave them to me! She said that she was out of that phase now. Whatever. She gave me 2 Bartoli CDs, 3 Maria Callas CDs, and two other random ones (Caruso and some other guy that I can't remember). I walked out with a stack of new opera CDs! I'm thrilled to say the least. :D

I can't wait to play with them again. We're playing together on Aug 3rd for all three services at church. I'm excited!

A cello quartet is just so nice in general. The cello has such a huge range; you can get all the parts in. I mean, a violin quartet or a bass quartet just wouldn't work like a cello quartet does.

I've been listening to this cello quartet called Cellofourte for some time now. They rock! They play everything from "Evenstar" (Lord of the Rings) to "Stairway to Heaven" to the Muppet Show theme song! They're such talented musicians. They arrange all the music and it's so intricate. :) They don't have much on Youtube (sadness!), but I have their CD. They are so good! I put in one and my Mom is immediately mesmerized. It's really funny.

We were blasting it in the car the other day (with the windows down, naturally) and this guy gave us this look like we had just broken out the mental asylum or something. It was priceless! (It made me remember the time when I was stuck at a light at school and I was blasting Mozart. Similar expressions. PRICELESS.)

Okay, this music-head has to go to bed. I have to get up really early tomorrow to sing!

Here's some head-banging cellists for your enjoyment. I bring you, Cellofourte!

Friday, June 6, 2008

On Performing: A Year In Review

I finally feel like I've completed my first year of college. Summer is here. I'm in that place of preparation again. The pressure's off. It's just me, my time, and the semester to come (and that still feels so far away).

I've learned so much this year. I've become a completely different musician. A part of it is just the huge amount of information and new skills that I have now. When I came into college, I was a natural musician with some vocal training, but I wasn't someone who could sight-read perfectly or who knew all the variations on solfege ("do, re, may"?). Now I can dictate (mostly) and I know so much. I fixed my technique so that my cords meet completely. I can't record everything that I've learned; it's too much!

But the most important thing I learned this year is something that I've always known but have never fully realized.

I don't perform to be the best, or to show off. My goal is never to impress people. That's why I've always been reluctant to perform in the past. But now I understand. I perform because I love music and I love to share it with other people. Music allows for this special, indescribable and incalculable connection between souls. As a performer, I can affect people. I can create something, with the help of music, that they've never experienced before.

I have been given a gift. How selfish of me to not share it with others! What would be the point of having it if I never used it for anyone but myself? I'm ashamed that I've refused when people have asked me to sing. Sure, I don't feel comfortable singing in a small setting, but I have to get over it. I can't be so selfish. I have to learn how to share. This is the barrier that I've broken through this year. When people ask me to sing, I sing!

Performing, when done correctly, is frightening because it makes the performer very vulnerable. I have to open up, to show pieces of my inner-self, in order to truly do the music justice. I have to be willing to share my joy and my grief. It's not easy, but I'm learning.

It's funny. I'm not the performing type. At all. I never would have guessed that I'd be studying this in college. It's such a surprise to me and yet, now that I'm doing it, it feels so natural. It's like I was made to sing opera. It's so rare to feel like you completely belong, that something is right. I love it and I'm glad that I found it. It will bring me happiness for a long time to come.

It's not even that this is the "easy" path. It's hard. I've actually disappointed people that I hold in very high respect. It is a lot of work and I have to put up with what others say.

I thought to write on this after stumbling upon one of Joyce DiDonato's old blogs. She explains it in this way: "But perhaps the most important memory of that period came without warning or lighting bolt...I felt some sort of an 'artistic shift' happening within me. It wasn't "I can sing this as well as her..." as I probably would have arrogantly and ignorantly professed a few years earlier. Not at ALL - she sang it gloriously. It was, instead, a sense that I had something I wanted to say with this music - something that wanted to be heard...consequently, a confidence began to build in me - not a fabricated buffer I gallantly called "stage presence", but something that was growing deep within - something that began a shift in my thinking from "I hope they like me", to simply aiming to express." (source)

This is exactly what I've learned. It was good to see someone else explain it (in a much more eloquent way than I ever could). It's also good that someone older and more accomplished than myself has discovered this. It's confirmation and that makes me happy.

This is the bottom line: I have a gift and I'm going to use it. It's not that I think I have a gift; I have confirmation from many others. From musicians and professionals, most importantly. I finally feel confident enough to pursue this.

God has put me on this path. I can only trust Him to take me where I'm meant to be.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Carmen Opera Scenes

Katy and I suffered through Carmen opera scenes this semester. Then, I found this video and almost died laughing because it showed exactly what we went through (without the kickline, of course)! So, if you want to know what it's like to be an extra in opera scenes, watch this.