Saturday, January 6, 2018

Re"cat"itive, Purr-relude, and Aria

The real musical critics in our house are our two felines, Panda (age 4, male) and Lucia (age 5, female). Panda came to us through my sister Kelsey, and was our first “joint purchase” as a married couple. Lucia came to me from friends at Eastman, and was part of my marriage “dowry” (ha ha).



Both of our furry friends are obsessed with listening to us practice. If they are in a particular mood, they will pay a visit to our visiting students, my coaching clients, and friends and colleagues who grace our home with their beautiful sounds and spirits. This website has an interesting point of view about why, and how, cats purr.



They are also quite adamant and vocal about when they are fed their “wet food,” how often their box is cleaned, and if they would like to snuggle with us in the master bedroom or on the sofa.



In the past, I think I’ve measured too many things that don’t matter. Today, I had a great, long quality “kitty snuggle” with each cat, and that "has made all the difference" (with only slight apologies to Mr. Robert Frost). 




Here’s to 2018, with many kitty snuggles, moments savored slowly, more meals and quiet time with Zheng, mindful artistry, more fun, more books, prayer, and surprises. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Timing


As musicians, we think about timing - so - often. 

How much time does it take to prepare _____________ for a concert? There are all sorts of factors with this, including difficulty, style, how much else is going on “in life” at that time, does it have to be memorized or staged ... 

Then within a project, we must obsess over timing in every aspect. How long does it take to move-tune a harpsichord, for a violinist to make a string crossing, for a continuo group to “figure out” the feel of a piece, for a pianist to time a huge leap across the keyboard? How does a singer time a shift through the passaggio, to a high note, or time the initial plosiveness of a double consonant? 

For a performance, how much time do we take between songs or movements? How much is too much, or not enough, for the audience?

A small shift in a metronome marking (or speed) of something can make an enormous difference for the performers and audience. 

Sometimes, we prepare so much for these minuscule shifts, over analyzing them, even.

And just like that, when something is perfectly timed, by surprise, it is remarkable. 

As if God Himself has orchestrated it. 

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, ESV). 




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Out of the Oven

We have a peach tree in our front yard. While we can't take credit for planting it, it has grown beautifully this year, many thanks to my husband's hidden talent as a gardener and "lawn care specialist."






While I was gone, he sent me pictures of the peach tree. They were fully ripe while I was gone, and some had to be eaten while I was away.



However, we now have a drawer-full of them, and they make terrific pies. As I found out.



I also found out my husband had never had a peach pie in his life!



I'm certainly no Martha Stewart, but I will quote her here:



"Doing projects really gives people self-confidence. Nothing is better than taking a pie out of the oven. What it does for your personally, and for your family's idea of you, is something you can't buy."



Doing projects really gives people self-confidence. Nothing is better than taking the pie out of the oven. What it does for you personally, and for your family's idea of you, is something you can't buy.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marthastew587403.html?src=t_pie
Doing projects really gives people self-confidence. Nothing is better than taking the pie out of the oven. What it does for you personally, and for your family's idea of you, is something you can't buy.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marthastew587403.html?src=t_pie
Doing projects really gives people self-confidence. Nothing is better than taking the pie out of the oven. What it does for you personally, and for your family's idea of you, is something you can't buy.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marthastew587403.html?src=t_pie

Friday, August 11, 2017

An Emerald Layover

Booking round-trip European flights from Albuquerque can be quite expensive. So when I had the option of flying through Dublin on both the inbound and the return flight, I jumped at the opportunity (and the price!).

The trade-off on the return ticket was an overnight stay in Dublin (16 hour layover). 



My new friend and colleague, who I had just met at Franz-Schubert-Institut, happens to be a Dublin resident, so the layover worked out perfectly. (Thank you, NK, for the amazing hospitality!). 

I was properly greeted at the airport. 



And then after some lovely aperitifs and music-listening, we hit the town for some proper fish-n-chips and, after, the quintessential Dubliner magic potion. 



As James Joyce says in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, "My heart is quite calm now. I will go back." 

And my heart is quite calm now. 

The time away, immersed in texts and music, helped me become more of myself. As Dr. DL says, "Schubert's song can rid us of our bad habits." I have played that line over and over in my head, wondering what he meant, and also finding its truth. 

I do know that I haven't written, and that usually my time away is a time to write more. This summer ended up being an exception, and my challenge is to write as I continue to unravel the many gifts that studying this summer afforded. 

I am thrilled to be going to home and to be reunited with Z, and I am also happy to be bringing home a better version of myself. 


(... though I know the old version was also just fine, as well ...)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The "point" of vacation

I guess I do realize that I write more when I’m “away” then when I’m in the day-to-day rhythm then when I’m traveling. 



Zheng and I are enjoying some much-needed “down-time” before I head to Europe for a pilgrimage (more about that in another post). On today’s adventure was the Art Institute of Chicago. Neither of us had been, and we were very much looking forward to it! Along with some famous works of art (I had to explain some of them, including Dorian Gray as Faust, etc.), it was fun to take in the museum and see the exhibits. 



I had also forgotten that “La Grande Jatte” (inspiration for Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George) was at this place, and we turned the corner and got a surprise! The up-close encounter to the “pointillism” was fantastic … 



Getting close to the artwork was informative because you could see an added border, used by Serrat to contrast the frame to the painting itself. He also used, points, dots and jabs to get the affects that we can see from afar.


[ and yes, the pun from the title ] 

Monday, April 17, 2017

The connecting c(h)ord

An on-again, off-again project has been seeping, brewing, marinating.

And by on-again, off-again, I really mean: 

ON (offer! concert offered! Learn more of these!) … practice, practice, practice - oh wait, these are HARD - maybe wait until my technique is better / the planets align / my cat can clean its own litterbox - or until I can play them perfectly. Practice, oh wait, here’s my opera season for the year, so better get on THAT because that is sure money, and that is how the world {somehow} sees me these days ::: keep going, keep going, keep GOING (thank you, Berio and Samuel Beckett!).

Literally, this project, now calling my name very strongly, is starting to boil over. Like a pot, or sauce, on very slow boil.

Try … seven or eight YEARS. All of my cells are different from the time I started. 

Today I experimented with the recorded sound - visual of pairing my new Zoom h5 with my Nikon DSLR 5100. I have never paired an audio mic of this quality to the DSLR, but I was in the middle of blissfully practicing solo music, and then thought - 

“I’m going to check out what I look - and sound - like, in this moment!”

So I figured out how to pair the two, and set up the machine. Lo and behold, I came up with something fun! I also played around with filters and captions. The video is about a minute long.






The connecting c(h)ord. The one I used today to connect the two machines. The one that Shostakovich uses to get from one harmony, to the next. He links back the opening a minor with the bell-tone “E” - the dominant, the overtone. Each chord struck is a riff on the one before, a connection to what is to come.