Journey of 100
Sunday June 29, 2014 – 6 PM – FREE ADMISSION – West 89th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. The Chaconne opens this short program…Beethoven’s String Trio in G Major comes next – played with my friends Artie Dibble, Viola, and Lindy Clarke, Cello.
This outdoor concert was blessed with perfect weather and a large, appreciative audience…lots of families with children, and the little ones were getting up and coming to the front of the stage area and dancing away with pure delight…somewhat astonishing for me because their delight and joy was like a second counterpoint to this work of Bach’s and it was challenging to stay plugged into the deep flow of the Work and not “fall out” into the dancing of the children!
I had spent a lot of time in the last week working on purity of intonation as well as stronger rhythmic organization, and I was happy that that work wasn’t wasted…that being said it is humbling that even at this 23rd time, for me, thorough practice is still an essential component: there were areas of which I assumed in my practice sessions “ok, that part’s fine, don’t need to invest time there”, that would have benefitted from slow, mindful work….sigh….I remember reading Kreisler’s writing about train travel providing him time to review in his mind every tone of the works he was performing, to sort of, in his words, “re-carve” the grooves on the disc (the vinyl or glass LP recordings of his time)….I will remember that going forward.
The Beethoven seemed an easy delight to play – in gusty winds that required us to pause and carefully replace the clothespins that held the music onto the stands!!! Artie and Lindy are, simply put, terrific.
On campus in the CAPA LENS.
Tuesday night’s 10 p.m. performance of the entire D Minor Partita produced one of the most memorable results I have ever experienced as a soloist. The audience of about 60 or so stayed sitting together in a profound, relaxed silence for a good 8-10 minutes. Slowly, one or two students at a time would quietly put their things together and leave the room. About six stayed for talkback and conversation that was captured by our Catamount Access cameraman. I will put the students’ insightful comments together in an edit, and post it here as soon as I can.
One of my comments about the performance is that the emotional arc of my performance felt sloppy to me – and when I shared that, Matthew (one of the students) replied that “emotions are sloppy” and that the rawness of my musical expression (his words) was what made it so powerful. That gives one *much* to consider in terms of balancing personal expression with expressing musical understanding of Bach’s fine works.
7:00 Holiday Concert at the Jackson Heights Jewish Center, Queens
I have played this seasonal concert for many years and it is always great fun – so many wonderful people from the neighborhood show up, and the programs are always interesting! A really fine Tango segment (singer Chris Vasquez and pianist Cesar Vuksic), Arabic music (including Simon Shaheen’s Alhambra Trio which we commissioned a number of years ago for A Night at the Alhmabra Café), which I performed with Rex Benincasa, Tar and Carlo Valte, Oud), Tangos, music by James Primosh (beautiful piano solo Ryan MacEvoy McCullough and singing from Judy Kellock.
I played the Chaconne following the last movement from the Messaien Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps, it was a good pairing. The room we were playing in had very dry sound, so I had to speed the tempos slightly. Having done three or four of these performances in the last couple of weeks, it was pretty easy to drop into a somewhat mind-less space and allow the music to flow.
We were fortunate to have the services of a spanish translator – one of the staff at the Jewish Center – so that the spanish-speaking audience members would know clearly that I was asking the listeners to participate with me in this Journey of 100 – to come to our website here and write their experiences – I hope we get some comments.
for colleagues and friends. This performance was a good one – I was happy with the spirit and mood I was able to create; I had to keep substituting listening deeply for thinking, for mental activity. I worked a lot at exploring many places for playing at soft dynamic levels, leaving the higher levels for the most important emotional and spiritual moments.
A funny thing was that in the afternoon I had to decide if I was going to cook dinner (we were hosting the evening) or practice – and I decided to cook and work on the music in my mind and body while cooking. A good choice, so it seems.
Private performance for colleagues and family. A beautiful event, in a warm living room with cathedral ceilings and a fireplace glowing. The idea of this complete work being the story of a spiritual journey seemed more powerful than ever – to me, and from discussion afterwards, to our listeners as well.
Somehow, with the increased familiarity with the work I am having trouble simultaneously accessing/realizing both the deep flow and the organizational frame…sinking into the world of the music and organizing the right pace and long, section phrasing. I am going to try to study the score a bit without the violin (without playing it) and see if that helps for the next one.
The technical changes I am making in the use of certain fingers on the right hand in order to gain more articulation and control of two and three voices at the same time is really starting to work – though when I lose it and fumble a passage it is not so easy to relax and sink back into the new mode…but it IS coming along!