Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everybody!!

Things have finally picked up a little bit here in Little Rock...for the past few days I have been playing in a praise band at the Church at Rock Creek...which is a mega-church of sorts in West Little Rock...the music was easy, the time was little, and the money was good. A winning gig!! Tonight I will be playing a Christmas Eve service in North Little Rock and then its off to Chicago in the morning...I will be driving up through Illinois all day on Christmas and arrive in time for dinner. So please call me if you aren't too busy with your family.

I'm a little behind on Christmas shopping...which is bad, because Christmas is tomorrow. Oops. Maybe I can give some late gifts for Hanukkah...there are still 4 nights left, right?

It will be nice to have a break from Arkansas...although I am finally starting to make some good friends here and get used to things. I have a bunch of auditions coming up in Feb/Mar...I hope I can find a better cello to use, otherwise I think they are kind of a waste of money...since my cello just isn't good enough to win an audition on. (remember, I didn't use it for the Arkansas audition...I used Mr. Fischer's Perreson and it was the first audition I ever won!)

In cello news...Chris Dungey will be starting my cello after the new year and it will be ready in a few months (in the spring sometime). I'm soooooo excited to get a better cello into my hands...and it will be after nearly a year of looking. I should have it before the end of the ASO season and I'm starting to work on organizing a recital of works written for me to be performed on my new cello in June!! yay!!

I'm listening to the TMCO Spanish Concert from this summer...not very fitting Christmas Eve music...but I already listend to Charlie Brown Christmas a whole lot...


Spectacular Spectacular

This weekend we are playing the Yuletide Spectacular here at the Arkansas Symphony. This is the second concert in our pops series (the first was with circus acrobats). Features mostly very poppy/rocky arrangements of Christmas tunes with some sort of dancing going on. There was a stage malfunction during White Christmas at the rehearsal last night, which ended in tons of white paper being dumped on the orchestra all at once. And we had no idea that it was coming. Surprise!! The picture is the rock-n-roll santa number...complete with dancing girls with reindeer heads.



Last night and today were my official first days of winter weather in years!! There was one time in Houston when everyone thought there was going to be winter weather and they canceled school...but then there actually wasn't any. All last night we were treated to freezing rain, so this morning everything is covered in a thing layer of ice...I had to use the ice thingy on my car and everything. I don't think I've ever done that before (since I didn't really have a car when I lived in winter places). Everybody is totally freaking out about it here...my demos this morning as well as my gig this evening got canceled...so I have an unexpected day off. So what do I do? Clean my apartment. Duh. And do laundry. Exciting, right???

Above is my balcony with ice...and my foot to prove its actually Arkansas.



Hello. Yes I do still exist. I just have not been compelled to write here for some reason. Things are going well here in AR. I went through a dry spell with nothing to do whatsoever for a while, but now lots of my time is taken up with Christmas gigs and quartet demos. And I am muuuuuch happier to have something to do!!

Today it is cold and raining and a little bit icy and everybody is freaking out. They all go to the grocery store and buy all the eggs and milk etc. Its kind of hilarious. In Chicago this would be any normal day and here it is the end of the world to them!


Wait, what?

I was slightly disturbed yesterday I heard an advertisement on the radio for the "Two Jewish Guys Hanukah Party" at the Clinton Museum, claiming it as a "Little Rock Christmas Tradition." When did Hanukah become a Christmas Tradition? Does this disturb anybody else? I know they are big on Jesus down here...bet geez.


Hello/Goodbye Snow/Little Rock/Chicago

This is what I missed in Chicago:But this is what I had to drive through for several hours: And this is what my speed looked like in Arkansas because it was raining:Yes...it took a little longer than I would have liked to get back...but I'm here.


Back to Real Life

Thanksgiving break has been a success in my book...plenty of food, and plenty of time not spent in Arkansas, where I will be headed back to tomorrow. I have a pretty light week coming up...just one concert and a handful of gigs...nothing remotely busy. So hopefully I will go to the gym everyday and lose fifty pounds...well, maybe more like four, which is also fine.

Yesterday I saw Quantam of Solace, that new Bond movie...which I was not a fan of at all. I really liked Casino Royale...but the action scenes in QoS where much too fast paced and heavily edited for me (I couldn't really tell what was going on at all) and I felt that the storyline wasn't really focused (and didn't really make any sense)...but that might just be me being stupid...as usual.

Feel free to call me tomorrow. I will be bored and sitting in the car driving through corn fields...really exciting.


Drive Complete

Well...I made it all the way back to Chicago in one piece...thanks in no small part to all of you who called me to keep me from falling asleep...and of course, conservative talk radio...nothing like Rush Limbaugh to get me pissed off and to keep me from falling asleep. The drive ended up taking over 12 hours...I was making great time, until I hit Chicago, which of course had terrible traffic and took over two hours to get through. I was really stiff after that. I trust that the return trip will be a little smoother...but you never really know I guess.



I don't understand why people are complaining that Obama's cabinet picks are not the change that he promised, as he keeps picking people from the former Clinton Administration. Do they not realize that this is a change from how things have been for the past eight years and that he is simply going back to an administration that worked?

Anyways...things are going ok here in Arkansas. Our quartet concert last week wasn't exactly a huge success, but we got through things without any major disasters, which is probably the best we could have hoped for. The review was far from a rave, but wasn't negative by any means. We are now done for the season...only weddings, random gigs and demos from now on. We will most likely do some concerts in the spring...but we are done with our appearances at the Clinton Library.

I'm excited to go home for Thanksgiving this week...I'll be driving up to Chicago on Wednesday and staying until Sunday. Thanksgiving is always one of my favorite holidays and I'm especially excited about being at home after my very draining past few months...


Busy Week

This is shaping up to be my busiest week (and a half) of the entire season so far...this week we are playing an all Mozart program in orchestra (its only our third classical symphony concert so far this season) I am, of course, reminded of the huge 250th birthday celebration a few years ago when every chamber group and orchestra seemed to be playing the complete works of Mozart on every single concert they performed...and it got really really old

But this should be a pretty good concert...Overture to Don Giovanni and Symphony No. 41...and the Clarinet Concert, which is far from my favorite Mozart piece...ugh. Haven't played the symphony since 8th grade!! It was basically my first "big" orchestra piece that I played (in Midwest Young Artists Youth Orchestra)...always exciting to come back to music like that! Wait...I think I may have played it at Eastman too...oops...

Also...my chamber group is presenting our second (and final) concert of the season at the Clinton Library featuring the Schumann 3rd Quartet and the Enesco Octet. The Schumann is really coming together, but the Enesco is proving to be a daunting task. Its always frustrating rehearsing an octet...there are just too many people and too many opinions to review and everything takes too long to figure out. And the Enesco is really hard on top of it...so you can imagine how its going...we have exactly one week from tomorrow...I know CCE pulled off miracles like this all the time, so we'll see how it goes!!

Pictured above is me hugging Zhuzha...the violist in my quartet's dog at my Obama party on Tuesday night (note my Obama shirt!!)


Change Is Finally Here

I'm happy to say goodbye to the last eight years. This is moment for our nation to be proud of.


Welcome to Yellville

Last week the Sturgis quartet played our first demo. A good portion of my job is traveling to schools all over Arkansas and doing "Music For All" style demos for elementary school kids. Its a good thing that I got all that great training at Eastman!!! Anyways...our first demo was in a town called Yellville...and as you can guess from the name...it was very rural. We had to drive over three hours to get there (a good portion of that time on a windy mountain-type road). If you look it up on google maps, you'll see that Yellville is kind of in the Ozarks...it was very hilly/mountainy there...kind of pretty, but not exactly beautiful...if you know what I mean...

The highlight of the trip was when we passed a church that had a sign that read, "Don't be so open minded your brains fall out." This is probably the scariest/most fantastic thing I have ever seen. On the way out of Yellville we pulled into the church driveway and snapped a picture...and then promptly ran away before anyone could shoot us (we passed one scary looking man driving around on an ATV fully loaded with weapons...bows+arrows and shotguns among others...)

It was really interesting to me to see place like Yellville...I don't think I've ever been somewhere quite as remote as that...and never any place as conservative/republican as that...we didn't see a single Obama sign out there...it was definitely McCain/Palin territory...which was kind of scary. At least on the way there we stopped to see Arkansas's Natural Bridge...which turned out to be a typical roadside attraction...not very exciting.


Succesful Weekend

My parents were in Little Rock this weekend with the single purpose of helping me finally get settled in my new apartment. As you probably assumed, it has been a complete mess for the month I have lived here so far...but over the course of two days it has been transformed into a space that actually resembles an apartment that people do in fact live in. I still have a few odds and ends to finish up...but its much much much better and is actually a nice place to be in now!

Pictured above is my bedroom complete with panel curtains from IKEA...we didn't hang them the way they were intended because I didn't buy all of the correct accessories...but I think they look pretty cool the way we ended up doing it! You should all come and visit! (more pics up on facebook)


Franck Complete

The Franck performance went surprisingly very well last night...I think the energy from performing really helped us a lot and it turned out to be a really exciting concert. Much to my surprise, the concert was reviewed in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette!! The critic really liked the Sturgis Quartet in particular ("The four musicians played together as one, alternately handing off running lines and accompanying one another") and I even got a mention saying "David Gerstein's solos on cello were always welcome interludes to the frenzied parts of the movements."

Not exactly a rave review...but I'm just happy to have been mentioned for the first time in professional review...yay!!! Thank you to Laura Stevens for the great review!!


Franck Quartet

Today the Sturgis Quartet (of which I am a member) will present Franck's String Quartet in D at the Clinton Presidential Center at 7pm...I think we are all pretty excited (and nervous) about it. This is the first time we will be appearing as a quartet and we have worked pretty hard to put this piece together. For those of you who don't know...its nearly an hour long...and its pretty crazy...and really difficult to learn as the first piece you've ever played together as a quartet...the pic is of the only solution I could come up with for my page turns in the last movement...its seven pages with basically less than one measure of rest...I have to use to stand extenders...its kind of ridiculous.

Jay was here last week subbing with the orchestra. We hit up all the regular Little Rock places: Big Dam Bridge, Pinnacle Mountain, River Market (those are basically the only three places to go in Little Rock...exciting, I know)...it was my first time doing Pinnacle Mountain, and everybody kept telling me how ridiculously easy it was...so Jay and I went over one afternoon, expecting a nice easy hike...we were very surprised to hit a ton of huge boulders that seemed to go straight up...it was super hard work, but we made it up to the top. We later found out that we went up the difficult side which was rated "strenuous," the other side is a simple stroll up the mountain...

I guess I'll know better next time.


Back in Little Rock

As the title says...I am back in Little Rock now. The week in Houston went well...I think its safe to say the concert was a success. Everyone who came seemed to enjoy it and thought the poetry and silence was effective. And we managed to get through both of the pieces after a very crazy week of rehearsals.

Now I have roughly 80 billion things to take care of. I filled my entire dry erase board with a list of things to get done, and I'm sure when i finish that I will fill it up again with more things to get done. Sigh...on today's list is going to the gym, moving my living room shelf to my bedroom, building my new living room shelves, going through a million papers...and much much more!!


More from IKEA

I think that I officially have a problem...I have gone to IKEA four times since I've been to Houston...and yesterday, I went twice in one trip...I went through once and paid, and brought the stuff to my car, and then I went back in and went through again. But I'm sure that all of the things I bought will help breath some life into my semi-unfurnished living space (also known as my apartment)...I am now the proud owner of two LACK bookcases, all sorts of curtains and fabric, and a million odds and ends. Now I just have to put everything together. Tell me what you think.

The two bookcases will go next to each other in the living room (I'll move the big Janus shelf from The Container Store to my bedroom and it will become the home for my music) the heart shaped pattern will become curtains covering my washer and dryer...they had it displayed with the hearts upsidedown at the store, and I didn't eve realize they were hearts then...I think I will do it that way...and the blue panel curtains will go behind my bed.


IKEA etc

Today I went to IKEA to buy some fabric type thing to put behind my bed as well and a curtain to put in front of my washer/dryer...and I ended up leaving with a cart full of random items...none of which were the things I came in for. So I guess I'm gonna go back tomorrow and pick some things having thought about it for a day (none of the textiles are available online...).

My apartment will soon be equipped with new towel bar...a dish scrubber...a red ice cream scoop...a magazine file (to put my orchestra music in...right now it just sits on the kitchen counter)...some candle trays...and a bunch of candles...all sorts of things I don't really need at all...but I now own...

I really need to buckle down and get my shit together when I get back to Houston on Sunday night...I'm sick of living in a mess...my couch will be coming on Wednesday, and I want it to slip into a finished apartment...this probably isn't going to happen...but one can try, right?


CFP Day 1

The first rehearsals for the Concert for Peace (CFP) went very well today! At an early morning Schubert rehearsal we got through the first movement, and worked a bit on the 3rd...and at our afternoon Brahms rehearsal we got through the entire piece (with work mainly on movements one and two)...I'm sure that is all very exciting to you guys...to CCE: I'm realizing that we took some pretty crazy tempos, since I thought I was taking the 3rd movement of the Brahms under tempo for rehearsal, and then everyone in the group told me it was way too fast....hmmm...I guess we also worked on it for over a year though.

I also think the trio to the third movement of the Schubert Quintet is really strange.

Its nice to be back in Houston and not have to worry about school at all. I just have two rehearsals a day, and then I get the rest to hang out and visit all of my old spots...have already been to favorites: House of Pies, Mai's, RA Sushi, and Miyako...I think tomorrow I will pay a visit to IKEA to see what I can bring back to my place with me...and maybe the Galleria as well...just so I can remember what being in a real mall feels like...

And I recieved word today thay my couch is ready to be delivered!!! Hope they can swing by on Monday morning!


Greetings from Houston!

Hello! I'm in Houston for the week preparing for a concert this Saturday at St. Phillip's church. Its a "concert for peace" and I'll be playing the Schubert Cello Quintet as well as the Brahms Piano Quintet with some friends here in Houston (from Rice and elsewhere). We haven't started rehearsing yet...so I'm getting a bit nervous about throwing it all together...its going to be a crazy few days...and we just found out that we will be playing on the radio on Friday morning...yikes!!

I haven't updated in a while...so here's a recap of what has been going on:

  1. I played two concerts this past weekend featuring cricus performers...it sounds totally cheesy, but it was actually pretty fun, and very entertaining.
  2. I auditioned for the Milwaukee Symphony...I really hadn't prepared like I should have and I was playing on a cello that just really isn't good enough to be playing auditions on...so obviously, I didn't advance past the first round. But it was nice to see some friends there!
  3. I spent some time at home in Wilmette with my parents (following the MSO audition)
  4. I had a personal training session...it was really good, and he showed me a bunch of things I had never done before...now I just have to keep it up.
  5. I rehearsed the Franck String Quartet in D major with my quartet (the Sturgis Quartet)...out first concert is coming up at the end of October, and we want to be ready!
  6. I receieved and put together a MALM bed from IKEA...this was not very easy for me...but I managed to get it together...and it looks pretty good! And after a few days the matress has puffed out and become pretty comfortable. pictured above.
  7. I drove to Houston...see the above paragraph.
  8. Now you're caught up.


Dorm Room/Storage Unit

Its not a good sign when the people that work at the Container Store recognize you and know your name. But since there is basically nowhere else to go here for more "modern" looking furniture, at least that I know of, the container store is it. I have spent more money that I had ever planned to there...but now I have three sets of Elfa drawers...two in the bedroom that function as a dresser (with wheels on the bottom) and one in the bathroom that functions as a...well...bathroom dresser.

I visited the container store again today and bought a Janus "dorm-room set" which is basically a lot of wires and shelves that you can arrange however your little heart desires (pictured above). I thought that I would need tons and tons of shelves...but apparently I have big shelf eyes...because I am nearly done unpacking all of my boxes, and barely any of the shelves are filled. I'm not concerned however, because the shelf looks cool, and I can come up with plenty of stuff to fill it with.

Thanks to the very smart people that work at the container store, my parents and I where directed to a wonderful store by the name of Garden Ridge...where you can find any and every kind of home furnishing for very very little money. I am now the proud owner of black table and four chairs for under $200. One of the chairs already kind of fell apart...but the other three are going strong.

The container store people also directed us to Hank's Fine Furniture...where I made my most exciting purchase of all...a leather couch!! I'm still trying to grasp the fact that I can actually afford something like a leather couch now (or a piece of furniture at all, for that matter)...but, in about two weeks from now, this couch will be arriving at my apartment...and it will be mine to use!!

And I'm still waiting for my bed...cough cough...IKEA?? Is anybody home? I'm waiting for all of my furniture to arrive, so I can decide where to put my art up...because that makes a big difference, right? I'm sure that once I put the art up, it will really start looking like a real apartment where somebody actually lives...right now it looks like a dorm room/storage unit.

I'm still not off my high from the Met Opening Night yet...I've been listening to Manon all day...and humming it in the car when I've been driving places (I just uploaded it to my iPod, so I can bring it with me tomorrow)...my recording is with Beverly Sills...so its kind of amazing...omg. I think since last night I may have become a big opera fan...how cheesy and random is that?


Met Broadcast

I watched the broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera's opening night gala starring Renee Fleming here in Little Rock this evening...its really amazing that the met does something like this...broadcasting the opera to movie theaters all over the country. I had never been to a Met broadcast before, but I really wanted to see this one, as I had just played with Renee Fleming (cough...shameless self-plug) and performed under James Levine (cough...shameless self-plug number 2). They did three acts from three different operas...La Traviata (which I missed all but the final moments), Act 3 of Manon (my favorite of the evening) and the final scene of Cappriccio...each one featured Renee prominently...of course...

But it all got me thinking about what my favorite musical experiences have been thus far in my life...it was so exciting to see such an amazing performance from such amazing musicians in such an amazing setting etc etc etc...anyways...three performances came to mind. First, CCE's performance of Haydn's Sunrise Quartet at our very memorable summer (well, two weeks) on Cape Cod. I remember vividly getting to the coda of the last movement and Heather giving us all that smile that said "here we go!" and then we blasted through it...and it was soooo fun.

The other two were both orchestral performances at Tanglewood...Dvorak 8th Symphony this past summer, and Elektra my first summer...both conducted by James Levine. I've never felt that much energy during an orchestra performance, and I listen to both of those recordings nearly everyday...they sound sooo amazing.

Kimberly and I talked on the phone today...and we kind of thought that maybe the fact that CCE seems to not be materializing as a "real" chamber group could be a good thing...that way when we do get together and play it will really be just a fun great experience for us...just like that summer on Cape Cod was. We won't have to worry about booking concerts and finding agents and getting enough money for rent (well...we have to worry about that anyways)...but when we do actually play together, it will be just for the fun and enjoyment of it...like it should be. Great friends playing great music.

Also, I hope that sometime in the next few years I will get the opportunity to play in a really great opera orchestra...I know I won't be able to be a Tanglewood Fellow again (I exhausted my three years :-(...so my only chance to play really amazing operas would be to win a job in a great opera orchestra...so, I'll be checking musical chairs often...something has to open in the next few years...no?

Well, that turned into a kind of personal entry...oops. I'm just feeling very happy thinking about all of the amazing performances I have been a part of...thank you Met, for bringing those memories up for me.


Driving Etc...

I left to drive to Houston yesterday at 8:45am...and less than 24 hours later I drove back to Little Rock. Needless to say, I am very tired right now. The drive is getting easier and easier every time...I never would have imagined after driving that stretch of road the first (when I drove down with my parents + uncle when I first started at Rice) that I would be driving it so many times. It was interesting driving into hurricane territory...getting further south there were more and more uprooted trees and random roofs blown off of buildings...but right along the interstate, there was little damage to be seen.

Starting about two hours from Houston, the gas stations stopped having gas (save the random one every once in a while...where there was a huge 2+ hour line of cars waiting...no joke). All of the fast food chains had power, so I was good to get some greasy fried food to sustain me.

It was really shocking seeing Houston in this state...I lived there for two years, in which time a hurricane never hit us. Ike was not good to Houston...I hadn't heard much about it on the news, so it was a lot worse than I expected. There is barely any power in the entire city...and tons of trees and branches down everywhere you look. I saw one traffic light that was on the entire time I was there. Its really just kind of scary to be there in general. There is city-wide curfew at 9pm...which is kind of self enforced, because there is just nothing to do...its sooo dark at night, and there is just nowhere to go.

I had planned well enough to have sufficient gas to get me into and out of Houston (far enough North to buy gas) but I though it would a good idea to get some if I saw a station with not too ridiculous of a line. I picked a Shell station near 59...waiting about a half hour or so...not too bad compared to the stations I had seen elsewhere...finally got to the front...the pump said to see the cashier...I went in, waited in the line...and then was told it was cash only...and that the ATM wasn't working...so I just went to my car and drove away...I felt soooo dumb! (turns out I had enough gas anyways)

My trip was a quick one...packed up my apartment, cleaned out my storage unit...went to sleep...and left very early in the morning. When I left there were already super long lines at all of the gas stations (which had probably just opened). I'm so glad right now that I'm no longer living in Houston (selfish I know). They are saying it may be a minimum of three weeks before power comes back, which would mean that I wouldn't have any sort of work for at least three weeks (the public schools are canceled for at least a week...could be more). I'm guessing that if I was stilling living in Houston now, I probably would have just moved back home by this time.

Pictured above is the yard right outside of my garage apartment in Houston...just a tiny idea of what everything looks like (everything is like that...everywhere)...


Goodbye Ike

I couldn't escape the effects of Ike this past weekend, despite not being down in Houston. I was supposed to drive down on Friday to Houston so I could return Mr. Fischer's cello to him...(a bit of history...after graduation my parents took my cello back to Chicago with them to sell so we could have the funds to buy a new cello, Mr. Fischer generously let me use his spare for the summer while I was looking for a new one...unfortunately I didn't find one that I was looking for...ended up playing my Arkansas Audition on it, and now that I'm moving here, I can't use it anymore...which leaves me without a cello...Mr Fischer needs his spare back because he already dropped his principal cello off at the shop to get repaired...it was already in the middle of major repairs when the hurricane blew in, I couldn't drive down to return it as scheduled...) well, I guess that's the whole story...

I'm a little bit on edge, because this was the weekend for me to get all of my affairs in order in Houston, which obviously didn't happen. Now I'm driving down tomorrow morning and hoping that I'll be able to get into the city...need to rush around and remember everything I have to do (pick up bamboo...clean out apartment...pick up things that I have in storage) and I need to drive right back to Little Rock on Tuesday morning to be back in time for our first rehearsal Tuesday night...sigh...

Does that even make any sense?

I'm very slowly starting to furnish my apartment...emphasis on slowly. Since the only real piece of furniture I have right now is a stool I bought from Target, so I can sit at my kitchen counter (where I am right now)...I've been sleeping on an air mattress...which will change soon, since my parents ordered me a bed from IKEA!! yay!!

Speaking of my parents...they are totally drenched. Chicago has received a ton of rain recently...raining super heavy for over 24 hours. And now they have Ike merging with the storm they've had for over a day! Crazy...


Little Rock Update

As of yesterday I have achieved the two major things I need to get done on this trip to Little Rock...I opened a bank account here, and I found an apartment. The first was fairly easy to do...I just walked into Bank of America and opened a checking account...finding an apartment was somewhat more difficult. Drew drove me all over the city and we looked at every place that had for rent sign in front...I ended up taking a place downtown...its kind of a loft style apartment (barely) but its a good size (not too big not too small)...hardwood floor in the living room, nice sized kitchen with dishwasher...washer+dryer in the bedroom...and its only $500...welcome to Little Rock!

I'll be moving in this afternoon...after I'm done with this quartet seminar thing. We had our first rehearsal last night, working on preparing our outreach program (Papa Haydn)...we will be talking about theme and variation and different moods and emotions that can be expressed in Haydn quartets...exciting huh?

Pic above is a quick snap of my apartment (with no furniture yet...of course)


More From Little Rock

Hello from Little Rock...again!! A lot has been going on in my life recently...thus the lack in blogging...but if you read the entry directly below this you know that last weekend I won a job with the Arkansas Symphony (section cello + string quartet)...naturally I kind of freaked out a little bit and didn't know if I should take the job or not (a decision that seemed very obvious to everybody else that didn't have to make it)...but in the end I decided to take it and just see what happens...

So I'm back in Little Rock again...I'm here for a week this time...trying to find an apartment this weekend (which is proving not so easy after one day of searching)...later this week I have a few seminars with my quartet...we need to prepare our outreach demos. Our topic is Papa Haydn...something that CCE would totally have a ball with...three of the people in my quartet are brand new (me and one of the violinists just got the job last weekend, the other violinist, also the assistant conductor, has been here over the summer...the violist has been here for a while already) so we'll see how it goes...no telling whats gonna happen.

All of our concerts are happening at the beginning of the season...we are doing the Franck D Major string quartet (who knew?), the 3rd Schumann Quartet, and the Enescu Octet...should be interesting, never played any of those pieces. Have you??

Anyways...there are some really cute places to live here in Little Rock...I looked at one apartment today, one bedroom with a big big kitchen (with breakfast nook) big big bedroom (tons of closets) another small room, hardwood floors...and it was only $725...and my friend that has been taking me around (the concertmaster of the orchestra) says I can find something cheaper than that. I'm gonna try and look at a loft downtown tomorrow...could be nice.

As of right now I'm trying to keep my concerts in Houston, but as the schedule becomes clearer to me, I'm thinking that I'm not going to be able to keep doing that...there is a lot of time off from orchestra, but the quartet stuff can come up any time...and we will need to be rehearsing...we've got a lot of music to learn fairly quickly.

There was a huge football game here today that totally shut down everything...it was pretty crazy.


Arkansas Audition

Hello from Little Rock, AR! I drove up here yesterday from Houston...up that terrible stretch on 59...the speed limit changes at every little town you enter...and there are stop lights along the whole thing...ugh...at least I had conservative talk shows to keep me angry and paying attention.

The audition was this morning, and I realized I was reading the schedule wrong and there were a total of six cellists there...a lot less than I was expecting. First round was behind a screen...Beethoven 5, Mozart 41, and Don Juan...we each had our own rooms, and there was no 'community room' so I just sat in my room by myself waiting to hear back...and then to my surprise I was advanced to the next round!! That was the first time that had ever happened.

Then I only had about 15 minutes before I went in again...this time the screen was down...there were supposed to be two more rounds, but due to the low turnout, the final two got compressed into one...I played Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet Overture (random, right?) and Verdi Offertorio...then went back and read with the quartet, Beethoven 59 No.1 and Prokofiev 2nd String Quartet...and then I had to give a mini outreach presentation, as if the panel was a bunch of third graders.

I never really thought I would get that far, so I didn't really plan anything out...I just jotted a few notes down and figured that if I had to, I would just wing that part when it came to it...and then it came to it, and I winged it. I guess it was all that great training with Music for All at Eastman...

And then I found out that I won the audition. Totally crazy...so now I have to decide if I'm gonna take it or not...decided to stick around for another night so I could check out the town...and juts have a chance to look over all the stuff they gave me in the quiet of the hotel...what do you guys think??


Here We Go

Moving to a new place...even if you've been there for the past two years...is not very easy. It looks like I'm finally going to be able to move into my apartment this afternoon...after much trouble from my previous residence of two years (my new landlord needed to check my references, and they made me bring over a signed release statement and then they needed him to send them the questions in writing so they could respond...totally ridiculous!!) I'm so happy to finally be done (hopefully forever) with that horrible building.

Next on taps...actually moving in this afternoon...not a complete move-in, but all the stuff from my car and maybe a few boxes from storage. I don't have a ton of time today, since I am leaving tomorrow for an audition...I'll get a little settled and then probably practice more tonight. I'm totally cramming for this audition, so I've already written it off as just another "audition experience" under my belt...I think I'm probably going to chicken out of next week's Alabama Symphony audition, and just concentrate on Milwaukee...


Too Much

  1. Made it all the way back to Chicago/Wilmette safely...(stayed overnight in Cleveland)
  2. Spent two days in Chicago...mostly looking at cellos...more on that later...
  3. Drove from Chicago to Batesville, MS to Layfeyette, LA, to Houston...
  4. and then my car broke down after we (me and my dad) pulled up at our hotel.
  5. So we had the car towed to the volvo place, and then we rented a car.
  6. We drove all around Houston looking for a place and then found one that we both thought was too small and not enough kitchen...
  7. and then after looking more decided it was by far the best one, so I took it.
  8. But I can't move in for another day...so I have a car and a storage until full of stuff, and nowhere to put it.
  9. And I need to pick a cello.
  10. and I need to practice for my audition in Arkansas (on Saturday) and I'm not exactly sure which cello I will be using for it...
  11. I've written this one off as a practice audition at this point...since I haven't played for days.
  12. Even though I have practiced the music kind of a lot while I was at Tanglewood.
  13. I miss Tanglewood
  14. I'm kind of screwed...
  15. omg


Goodbye Tanglewood :-(

Hello from the New York State Thru-way...I left the Berkshires this morning (after frantically running around all morning getting my car packed up and trying to say bye to everybody). Can't believe that I'm done with my third summer at Tanglewood...that means I can't come back again as a regular fellow, only if they invite me to be a Fromm Player, which is a very small chance...could be the last time I was in Western Mass for a long time...sad day...

I'm on my way back home to Chicago now, I'll be stopping somewhere around Cleveland and arrive in Chicago in the afternoon tomorrow...two days of looking at cellos in Chicago, and then its three days driving back to Houston...I'll be there a few days with my dad finding and apartment and getting resettled...and then I'm heading out to Little Rock, AR for the ASO/Arts Partner Quartet audition...been working on the excerpts for a while now, so I hope that it goes well!

I need to get some red bull.


Post Carter

As you have probably guessed, the Carter festival is now complete and we are on to tons and tons of rehearsals for Eugene Onegin...poor James Levine is recovering from surgery, so we have Sir Andrew Davis in his place...a really great conductor, but just not the same, as everybody seems to be feeling. Oh well...its still an amazing opera and we still have the amazing cast of singers including Renee Fleming (among others).

Everything Carter went really well...Enchanted Preludes was the best it ever was and even got mentioned in Sequenza 21, a contemporary music blog. read here. The Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord got mentioned in the New York Times...very briefly and without names of the performers, but still...mentioned. And the back of my head was featured prominently in a different NYT review (ok...maybe not so prominently)...but whatever...

We are starting to wrap up the summer here...less than 3 weeks left...two more orch concerts...my schedule is significantly lighter now that Carter is over...just one chamber piece and the few remaining orchestra concerts. Not really looking forward to leaving...so I'm not gonna think about it right now.


Carter Begins

This morning was Concert #1 of the Carter Festival...it was really enjoyable to just sit back and listen to the craziness and not have to worry about playing correct rhythms and putting every tiny detail in its place. This morning we heard several small orchestral/chamber pieces featuring the Double Concerto for piano and harpsichord (and two orchestras). Pictured is Carter's bow at the end of the program standing beside Ursula Oppens and Charles Rosen (soloists on the concerto)...it was terribly well received with a standing ovation and everything at the end. I think it will be a very interesting week.

Tonight is the first of two orchestra concerts featuring the Variations for Orchestra and a world premiere of Carter's new string orchestra piece, Sound Fields.


Hello Carter

The Miss Hall's wireless network has decided that my anti-virus software, which I had to jump through hoops to get (since I have a mac and we don't get viruses anyway) is no longer good enough and won't let me on the internet. So I will most likely do all of my internet related things from Lenox Coffee from now on...not that there is anything wrong with that! Its kind of fun to sit and and people watch and drink iced coffee.

I just got my hair cut...it was getting a little bit scary...I'm actually really happy with it. Maybe I'll get one right before I leave as well. (its pictured above)

Tomorrow morning is the beginning of Carter-fest. Starting tomorrow at 8am you will here exclusively music by Elliott Carter at Tanglewood through Thursday. (well, there is one BSO concert where Carter will not be played...but whatever). I'm pretty much brain-dead from it all...five orchestral pieces plus two chamber pieces (with no conductor) all being performed right now. Kind of crazy. But kind of amazing at the same time. I'm doing the Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord...we figured that we have spent seven hours on only the 3rd movement of the piece, which is about five and a half minutes long. I usually take a nap when we are done to recharge.

My parents are trying to make their way out here as we speak...they decided to brave the craziness and take in the entire Carter Festival...but they ran into car problems in Gary, IN that apparently can't be fixed fast enough...so the car is being towed back to Chicago and a car is being rented...and then they will drive late tonight and make it to Rochester...and then the rest of the way tomorrow. I'll have to play extra well now!


Rossini Complete...Now Carter

I'm taking an afternoon break sitting at Lenox Coffee, and I figured it was about time to attend to the fact that I haven't made any updates here for quite some time. As you probably read in the entry below, Levine is out of the picture as far as Tanglewood goes. Everyone is pretty bummed about it...he was supposed to conduct both of the Carter pieces I was sitting principal on, but obviously, thats not going to happen...Stephen Asbury is doing it now, which is still pretty amazing.

Yesterday morning was my performance of the Rossini Duo (with Shaun). I was pretty happy with how it went. We each did our own cadenza type things, and I was really nervous about mine, since it involved a very large leap to a very high note...but it all worked out at the concert, and I'm glad I decided to do it...

We are in the midst of the Carter Festival now...two complete orchestra concerts of only music composed by Carter, as well as tons of chamber concerts...I'm playing on six of eight orchestra pieces and on two of the chamber pieces, so I'm getting my fair share of Carter. Now that the Rossini is over, I'm only playing Carter through July 23rd...its kind of crazy.

Pictured is my view from the back of the orchestra during Alpine Symphony, which we played about a week ago now. Its really hard sitting back there, especially for a piece like Alpine Symphony where everything is so loud and fast. And I hate wearing earplugs...but I guess you do what you have to to avoid complete hearing loss. Oh well.


Sad Day

BSO Music Director James Levine regrets that he will have to withdraw from the balance of the 2008 Tanglewood season. Because of a cyst causing pressure and discomfort, Levine will undergo surgery this week to have a kidney removed. The procedure has been described by Levine’s doctors as curative, with no other treatment necessary and with every expectation for a complete recovery. The anticipated recuperation period is six weeks - leaving ample time to prepare and conduct the season openings of the BSO and the Metropolitan Opera in September.

“It is extremely frustrating that I need to have this surgery now,” said Levine. “My projects at Tanglewood have been planned so carefully and coordinated in such detail by the Festival administration. I especially regret not being here with Elliott Carter for his 100th birthday celebration, which I was looking forward to more than I can say. And I’m very disappointed at having to miss concerts with my colleagues in the BSO, as well as my work with the young musicians of the Tanglewood Music Center.”

Mark Volpe, BSO Managing Director, expressed the sentiments of everyone at the Festival: “All of us at Tanglewood are very disappointed that James Levine will not be with us for his remaining concerts this summer,” said BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe. “However, we are primarily concerned for Jim’s health and well-being, and that everything be done to ensure a complete recovery so that he returns as soon as possible to his musical life with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera.”

The 2008 Tanglewood concert schedule, which offers 67 ticketed performances and runs through Labor Day weekend, will not be disrupted, with all concerts to take place as originally scheduled. An announcement about guest conductors scheduled to take over Maestro Levine’s remaining Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Music Center concerts will be forthcoming. Maestro Levine led the BSO, a cast of international soloists, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in the opening weekend of the Tanglewood season, leading a performance of Berlioz’ monumental Les Troyens, July 5 and 6. Also last week, Maestro Levine led the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in a performance of Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony.


String Sectional

Today we rehearsed in this space. As you can see, its not very large. Luckily it was just a string sectional...the morning session was on Don Juan and Dvorak 8...and the afternoon session was on Eugene Onegin, even though that concert isn't for over a month. We were all a bit confused as to why we had a rehearsal for it on the first day of orchestra. Also, Don Juan sounds really bad without the winds and brass.

Its so nice to just spend time on the Tanglewood grounds. Today it was so nice and sunny and I spent most of the afternoon walking around the grounds, talking on the phone etc. I will be spending a lot more time on the grounds this year since I can't really afford to drive back and forth from Miss Hall's given the high price of gas. Good thing its really nice there! Now I just need to work on reserving practice space.


Post Quartet Seminar

I thinks its reasonable to say that our quartet performance this morning went pretty well...especially given the circumstances. As previously mentioned, we were in the Tanglewood Theater (where they put on the operas) which is a much more outdoor hall than Ozawa is...therefore, it was very humid. There also happened to be a thunderstorm going on at the same time. It stayed quiet for our entire Haydn Quartet, but in the break afterwards, while I was about to start the Dvorak with my low C-String A-flat, there were rumbles of thunder. Good thing it matched the mood of the introduction. By the time we finished our one Dvorak movement, it was starting to storm. I feel bad for the next group because they had to deal with the really really loud thunder while they were playing. They still sounded great.

Mark Sokol came and gave us each a hug right before we played, and then did the same after. I still kind of love him. A lot. {the Lee Quartet is pictured above}

Right now I should be preparing for my New World Sub-list audition which is a little over an hour. However, I'm writing this blog instead. I've elected to play the old-standard: Dvorak Concerto along with three excerpts of my choice: Don Juan (the middle, not the beginning), Brahms 2 slow movement, and La Mer. I think that these are all in my fingers pretty well, so I'm not freaking out about it. Its not like they gave us a whole lot of notice anyways...I think they put up the sign-up sheets two days ago. Sigh.


Loud Frogs

I'd like to take the opportunity to tell you that the frogs outside of my window are so loud its ridiculous. I was talking to Kimberly on the phone the other day and she could hear them as if they were there with her in Seattle. Keep in mind that I'm on the third floor and the frog noise makes it all the way up here to my room from the courtyard below.

I'd also like to say that I kind of love Mark Sokol. For those of you who don't know, he was the first violinist of the Concord Quartet (they recorded all the Rochbergs that you all love...Mr. Fischer was in that group too). Anyways...I've had him as a coach every year I've been here at Tanglewood...the past two summers he has coached my group on Haydn. He always pushes us in such a crazy and unique direction...but it always ends up sounding so amazing. He has such an amazing ear for making sound different in a good way. He's also an amazingly nice person. He always hugs us after every coaching...and then has a cigarette. He's pictured above with said cigarette. If any of you every get a chance to do anything with him, please do!

I just decided to read the Orchid Thief again...now that I have it back from Heather. I kind of love that book too. I think I'll read some now.

Old Bass Road

Things are progressing nicely here at Tanglewood...tomorrow is our quartet seminar marathon performance. My first two summers here it was in Ozawa Hall, but I guess its overrun with dancers now, so we have been relegated to the Opera Theatre. As you can see in the pics...not nearly as nice. My group will be playing at approximately 10:30am...so we can expect a huge audience. If you are so inclined, and live in the Berkshires, you should come by...the concert starts at 10. We are playing Haydn and Dvorak.

I signed up to play the New World Symphony sublist audition...the only problem is that its tomorrow, and they just put up the sign up sheets. So nice of them to give advanced warning. I hear that its worth it to do it, even if you don't feel prepared. The only thing that stopped me from doing it last year was the fact that I was rehearsing Verlkaerte Nahct 24 hours a day and I had strep throat.

I've decided that I'm going to start sharing random pictures from my photo library with you all. Todays selection (seen above) is the road sign outside of our Bed and Breakfast in CT (where me and my parents and uncle stayed for a few days about a week ago). My uncle insisted on calling it "Old Bass Rd" and as you can clearly see, its just simply "Bass Rd."


Hello Tanglewood

Driving Day 5: Not as much driving today, but I was the most tired...I guess it kind of builds up over 5 days...I picked up a cello from Martin Cornelissen in Northampton MA, and then drove down to Clinton, CT (somehow making it there even though my Google Maps directions didn't exist...hmm) and picked up another one...by this time I was practically passing out and had to stop playing because I couldn't pay attention to it anymore!! Got back in the car...drank a red bull...and drove an hour to Windham Center (after finding out I was driving in the wrong direction, but only for 5 minutes).

Days in CT: kind of relaxing, but there was a fair share of family drama...as there always is.

Tanglewood: I finally have a single room (pictured!)...quartet seminar is now in full swing (or will be tonight) everyone is playing Haydn, my group's other piece is Dvorak A-Flat Major Quartet...not my favorite piece in the world, and no matter what we always sound bad, because its in A-Flat major...hmmm...but the group is fun and pretty good! I've been playing on the Wilke cello which I really like so far...but I think he will need it back soon...hopefully I can finagle it for a few extra days to use for the quartet seminar concert!


Driving: Day 4

Today me and Steph listened critically to Popular (from Wicked). Steph decided to keep a list of all of the characteristics that in Glinda's mind, make you popular. Items such as "good at sports" and "proper poise" made the list. I thought we should also make a list of the things that keep you from being popular. The only two were "brains" and "aptitude." Hmmmm.

Day 4 of driving was just as exciting as the previous three, except today we were only in New York and Mass...we saw the scenic Berkshires (where I will be living for the next two months) but took a brief detour to the home of Karou S (to drop off Steph!) and to Boston (where I am staying with Heather!). We had a lovely dinner at Tasca. Too bad my visit is so short (seems to be a theme these days!).

Tomorrow I fly solo and drive to Northampton, MA and Clinton, CT and Willimantic, CT where I will be meeting up with the parents.



Day three of driving was uneventful...somehow two songs from Wicked have become our theme material with listenings happening at least hourly. Only two songs because I only have two songs (Popular and Defying Gravity) on my iPod and Steph's iPod doesn't work with my radio thing for some reason (maybe its too old?). Steph gets very emotional when we listen to these songs and choreographs dance routines in her seat (which are more restrained when she is driving of course)...I'm sitting on the floor of Sara's apartment right now...and I must admit its quite lovely. Rochester is nice and cool compared to where we have been (the South was burning hot!)...today marked 12 states in 5 days...tomorrow will bring 13 in 6...and Thursday will make 14 in 7. I'm very excited to finally settle down in Pittsfield/Lenox for a few months. I'm researching being able to take some yoga classes at Kripalu (two summers ago I got the royal treatment there as part of a music+yoga study) so hopefully I will be spending some time there again this summer!

{above: Me on the floor||Sara in a chair}


Half Full??

As you can see...I didn't do very well. Kimberly took the rest home with her and had them for her next meal. (the whip cream had Kahlua and Irish cream in it...yum). Steph and I drove the rest of the way to Chicago today...things went without a hitch until we got to Kankakee, where tornadoes rolled through yesterday and they highway was closed for cleanup of overturned trucks and general mayhem. The result: driving through lots and lots of cornfields and small towns in southern Illinois on the detour...we never made it back to I-57, but we did somehow emerge in Chicago eventually...will be nice to have a day off of driving tomorrow!



I don't why I posted this pic at this time...but it seemed strangely appropriate. In case you are wondering, those are pancakes from the one and only Griddle Cafe in Hollywood...they are very very very large...perhaps tomorrow I will post how much of them I actually finished. Its always hard to say goodbye to people...I had to again yesterday! (Bye Peng!) I'm not really sure if its easier to be the one that stays behind, or the one that leaves. These days it seems I'm the one staying behind...not exactly sure how I feel about that.

Steph and I made it from Houston, TX to Blytheville, AR. I never really thought that I would be coming to Blytheville so regularly...but this is now the 3rd time I've been in this city...city being used very loosely...it seems to be the perfect stop on the trip between Chicago and Houston, no matter which way you are going...and no tomorrow won't be such a big drive...only 7 or 8 hours! Too bad Illinois is really boring until you get to Chicago.


Hello/Goodbye Houston

  1. Updates have been sparse because internet connections have been also.
  2. The big West Coast trip is over...both concerts went fine...plenty of fun was had by all...you can ask me in person for all the details.
  3. It took me forever to get back to Houston yesterday...but it was like a sped-up recap of the whole trip...flew from Portland to Oakland (and got to see really nice views of the the whole bay area!) and then stopped in LA for a second and then on to Houston...almost everywhere I stopped in for the whole trip!
  4. I spent all of today zooming around Houston...Mr. Volvo is back and in top condition (thanks to Volvos Only!) and bags are packed and the car is ready to be filled.
  5. Tomorrow morning Steph and I will try and make it to Blythville, AR...the next day we will drive to beautiful Wilmette, IL where will spend one day...on Tuesday we will drive to Rochester, and on Wednesday we will drive to Boston!
  6. I will have been to both sides of the country (including the middle!) in six days! I think I'll probably be pretty tired though. If only we stopped in NYC, I could claim going to the four biggest cities in the country! Oh well...
  7. Traveling is fun...most of the time.


LA Update #2

I'm sitting on the floor of a recital hall at USC (where we have been rehearsing all week for our concert) listening to Kimberly and Plylar play Phantom Vignettes (by Plylar himself)...we are gearing up for our concert tomorrow at the Brand Library in Glendale (I think its an art and music library)...hopefully we will have some kind of audience! It also happens to be my birthday tomorrow...in case you were wondering. (the pic is of me sitting on the floor...right now)

It has still been mostly rehearsing all the time...with some sleeping thrown in. Today was the first day where we didn't rehearse at 8am...we started at 11...which meant I got to sleep until 9am!!! I naturally woke up at 6, probably because I have gotten up at that time for almost a week now...guess it doesn't take that long to get used to early rising...I should file that one away for future reference.

Haven't had too much time for fun antics...but Ply and Alison took me to 21 Choices in Pasadena last night, which is a great frozen yogurt place with millions of toppings to mix in...kind of like cold stone except with frozen yogurt...it was yummy...I will probably get out to see some sites this weekend when we have more free time...so far I've spent most of my time in the Eagle Rock and Highland park areas...a brief trip to Los Feliz to eat at Fred 62 and Hollywood to get Mr. Fischer's cello looked at...it was buzzing...but they fixed it, and then it kind of came back, but goes away sometimes...no idea whats going on down there...

Ply's cello piece has come together surprisingly fast...it turns out the most of the piece is fairly easy to put together but the first to pages (which Patti and I worked on) are VERY difficult...we have spent most of our time on those...I think it will go very well at the concert tomorrow and I'm excited to play the premiere!!


LA Update #1

I've been here in Los Angeles since Sunday morning and most of my time has been spent rehearsing and sleeping...We have to get a bunch of pieces together in a short amount of time, so we start rehearsing everyday at 8am and continue on and off until 10pm...so, its a pretty long day...starting tomorrow we have evenings off...which will be nice. Maybe I'll get to see something besides the rehearsal room?



Ok, I'm seriously going to start writing more often in here...mainly because I have a lot of exciting stuff coming up to write about...and a lot of semi-exciting stuff that has happened recently...well, maybe not that exciting at all really...As you read in the previous post, I am now officially done with school...I walked at graduation and everything, so its really official...for real. And I got my first A+ ever in a class (well it was in lessons with Mr. Fischer...so...um...yeah) I've never gone to a school where an A+ was a real grade (A was always the highest)...so my last semester of school ever I got an A+...go me? I guess its not really that big a deal.

After that I went into a very anti-social phase...I had to move out of my apartment on May 15th...which also happened to be the day that I auditioned for the sublist of the Houston Grand Opera. So, for about two days beforehand Mira and Steph lived at my apartment and helped me pack and move everything...and we watched the first two seasons of Weeds when we were taking breaks. I got everything all packed and moved into a newly rented storage space...and I successfully auditioned for the HGO sublist...not the greatest audition ever played in the history of time...but there were some very good things going on (most notably my Dvorak...which was MUCH better than it normally is)...and I love playing the solo from Tosca, so that went pretty well...although I did miss a pretty easy shift...but I guess things like that happen.

Mr. Volvo is at the hospital for a few weeks getting some things checked up and tuned up and fixed up and all that good stuff...so I am now in Houston without a car and without an apartment. Which is very strange.

But its all ok because I'm leaving tomorrow (Sunday) morning for Los Angeles where I will be rehearsing 27 hours a day on a bunch of cool/badass contemporary music with friends such as Kimberly, Alison, and Ply (and two people who I have yet to meet, but most likely will tomorrow since I will be rehearsing with them). We will be playing a concert in LA on my birthday (May 24th) and then driving up to Oregon to do a masterclass and a concert in Ashland. Of course this is a concert trip/vacation for me...so there will be a side trip to San Francisco (to see Meta, buy a cheap bow and look at cellos) and another side trip to Portland to drink wine and hang out with Kimberly...

Then its back to Houston for two days to do nothing...and then I'm driving to Tanglewood...but thats later and I'm not gonna think about it now.


Recently I...

  • graduated from college.
  • saw my parents for a few days.
  • ate at two good restaurants: Mark's and Americas.
  • saw my mom on Mother's Day!
  • prepared for the Houston Grand Opera Sub-List Audition (and still am)
  • started packing.



I finally got my assignments!! And they are good! I'm playing:
  • Haydn Op. 33 No. 1 in B Minor
  • Dvorak Op. 105 in A-Flat
  • Rossini Duo for Cello and Bass
  • Assistant Principal for Dvorak 8 (with James Levine!) and Don Juan
  • Principal for Carter: Soundfields (World Premiere) and Variations for Orchestra
  • Carter Enchanted Preludes (I just played it on my recital!)
  • Carter Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord
  • Brahms Clarinet Quintet
Should be a fun summer! Yay!

In The Past Five Days I Have:

  1. Recorded Jairo's Piece (in about 2.5 hours!!!). I played OK (wish I could have done some things over again, but we didn't have much time) and there was a lot of traffic noise...hope it turns out ok!!
  2. Went to Java's several times...and ate at Dim-Sum (see Heather???)
  3. Had an uneventful flight back to TX (although it did leave very early) and I got to see the NYC skyline when we flew out of Newark (haven't been to NYC in a while now...)
  4. Played the final performances of the six service gig (Tim Powell's Wedding Mass) out in Baytown. I have officially spent waaaay to much of my life in Baytown now.
  5. Got lost driving to said gig and we were 20 minutes late and the choir applauded us when we entered. How embarrassing.
  6. Taught at TH Rogers...always a joy.
  7. Played my final orchestral repertoire final...and it wasn't too bad (well some excerpts were but surprisingly Brahms-Haydn Variation #5 was good!!)
  8. Dropped by some favorite Houston spots: Mai's, Hans', RA.
  9. Saw Mira play in the Houston Symphony Mahler 2 Concert!! Its an amazing piece...and thats all I'll say about that.
  10. Waited for my Tanglewood assignments and still haven't gotten them.


Rochester So Far

  1. A quick stop at Wegmans...Jairo and I stopped in there right after he picked me up from the airport.
  2. A trip to SPoT Coffee with Sara.
  3. A few beers at Salinger's with Arthur.
  4. A morning of practicing (for the recording and for orch rep final).
  5. Spending 2.5+ hours with Jairo working on the piece (to be recording tomorrow).
  6. Drinks with Lauren.
  7. Some time spent in the Sibley Library.
  8. No trip to Java's or Dim Sum yet...not sure how that happened...but it will be fixed tomorrow.

Hello Rochester

Hello from Rochester, NY...I'm here for a few days to record the piece the Jairo Duarte-Lopez wrote for me (I played it on my recital...if you were there)...we are doing to recording on Wednesday, but I'm here a few days early to just see friends and practice a bit before the recording. Its always strange coming back...all the people (except a few) are totally different. Funny how the people change so quickly. Tomorrow is for practicing and seeing friends...and maybe practice a bit more. Wednesday is the recording session in the morning...and hopefully some kind of celebration afterwards! Back to Houston on Thursday morning.


La Boheme

I went with Mira to see La Boheme at Houston Grand Opera tonight...I have rarely gone to see operas...just a few at Eastman, University of Houston, Rice, and Tanglewood...and of course I've had some experience playing them (Elektra and Don Carlo at Tanglewood)...but anyways, getting back to the point...I loved it...in its kind of over the top romantic cheesiness its kind of amazing. I've never seen another production of La Boheme, but I really loved the part at the end of the first act, where Mimi and Rodolfo sing to each other and snow started to fall and a full moon appeared behind them. I kind of hated myself for loving it, but I kind of loved it anyways...and I of course adored the famous Musetta's Waltz in the second act...and even the end was moving (Mira was bawling next to me...well, maybe not bawling). Anyways...its always nice to get out of the Rice bubble and go see something that we don't have a lot of exposure to.

I could really see myself playing in an opera orchestra...the operas at Tanglewood have both been highlights of my summers (and my musical life in general)...I've been finding myself listening to operas all the time lately...perhaps I will get a taste of the opera orchestra lifestyle next year...of course, that all depends on how my Houston Grand Opera sublist audition goes...cross your fingers for me and think good thoughts on May 15th...I will slog through a grand total of three excerpts (Magic Flute Overture, the solo from Tosca, and a few randoms from Aida)...and hopefully after that I will get to play something or other with them next season.

Or I can just keep holding out for the Met.


The Week in O(h)M(y)T(rill)

  1. Two Vocal Recitals today...Lindsay Kesselman is performing downtown at Uuniversity of Houston Downtown Campus at noon, she is doing the Berio Folksongs, and we are playing her dad's piece "How I Hate This Room"...I'm playing a cantata on Bethany Solheim's recital this evening...
  2. I'm playing with the Baytown Symphony...out in Baytown (of all places)...I used to think that Baytown was really far, but then I played in Beaumont...and found out that it isn't.
  3. I'm joining the Musician's Union on Wednesday...mostly so I can do the Baytown gig, but I've been looking for an excuse to join for some time. So there it is.
  4. Seeing La Boheme at Houston Grand Opera on Wednesday...I've never seen it, and I've never been to HGO, so it should be fun. I'm auditioning for the HGO sublist in May.
  5. My Ravel Chamber Group (also known as the Baggins Society Chamber Players) is playing on a Jump! concert this week...we will be playing for lots of little kiddies...I hope they like it.
  6. I'm subbing in a freshman chamber group...their cellist is injured and I just played the Brahms B Major Trio last semester, so playing on a recital with them on Friday, just the last two movements. Random.
  7. My final Shepherd School Symphony Concert on Friday...we are playing Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms, and Mahler 4...kind of a heavy program, but it should be good!
  8. My final week of classes ever? I had my last academic class last week...so now its all music stuff all the time...school technically ends on Wednesday, in case you were wondering. I have no immediate plans to start a DMA, so right now this is kind of the end for me...yikes.


I Heart Carter

I just returned from a performance of Elliott Carter's String Quartet No. 1...performed by the Pacifica Quartet at the Cy Twombly Gallery (part of the Menil Collection) here in Houston. I had never heard the piece before, and I listened without a score (Mr. Fischer was sitting a few seats away avidly following his). I guess that I can't claim to be new to Carter (since I just did a recital of four Carter works and recently played a movement of the cello sonata from memory!)...but I really felt that the piece worked on a musical level...most people have a hard time relating to Carter's abstract rhythmical language...but I think the real reason (aside from his obvious innovations to rhythm and construction) that he has become such a legend, is that his pieces work emotionally beyond all that.

I kind of realized in the end, during the final violin cadenza, that I was totally captivated by the piece. Even though it was over forty minutes long (of pretty abstract material) a lot of the piece really spoke to me, and it seemed to the audience as well. I really enjoyed the slow movement, with the dueling duos: forceful cello and viola recitative style against the two very high and slow violins. I really want to play this piece now (and not just becuase it starts with a cello cadenza).

I didn't realize that Carter was going to become such a large part of my life...I kind of ended up doing mostly Carter on my degree recital (4 Carter works and one other contemporary piece)...this was really my first experience with Carter, and I dove right in. This summer he will become a much larger part of my life when I take part in his 100th birthday celebration at Tanglewood...46 Carter chamber pieces have been programmed. I have no idea what I will be playing (hopefully something really good) but I know at least that I will be taking part in the two orchestra concerts consisting of only Carter music!! Yikes.

And with a face like that, who could say no?



The Houston Tuesday Musical Club competition is now over...well, I'm done...but I was also the 4th person to go. I think it ends at 4pm...I'm not expecting anything though. The Carter went pretty well, no memory slips or anything! Dvorak, on the other hand, was not so hot...it may have bordered on horrendous...especially at the end of the development. Turns out the judges stopped me, but I didn't hear them, and I kept playing, and getting more and more unsuccessful...oh well...it was 10am...

Later today I will be performing the Introduction and Allegro by Ravel (with harp etc...Mary would be proud). My group performed it last week, and will be performing it a few more times after this...so we have been pretty low key about the whole thing. Its at 4pm in Duncan Recital Hall at Rice University if you are interested (we are first).

Tomorrow if the day of Brandt...we are starting his opera: read through in the morning, and then right on the the sitzprobe in the afternoon...yikes...the performance is on Wednesday. For those of you wondering, its a contemporary chamber opera by Anthony Brandt (composition faculty here at Rice)...string quartet, some percussion, and two singers. Should be interesting...I've been on an opera kick lately, so I'm looking forward to this!


Good Work, David

I somehow managed to wind up with the correct Final Game in my NCAA Bracket (on facebook). I kind of randomly filled it out at the last minute and forgot about it...and when I checked yesterday, I was suddenly doing really well (#1 among my friends on facebook and #21,890 on all of facebook)...we'll see how it all turns out soon enough...I picked Memphis to win it all...hope it works out!

In other news...its Carter Sonata 23.5/7 for me (the other .5 is spent on Dvorak Concerto)...Houston Tuesday Musical Club Competition is coming up on Saturday morning and I need to play the Carter from memory...ugh...at least I've played Dvorak 75 million times...playing both in studio tomorrow...we'll see how that goes...I'm off to practice now, and rehearse with Patti, and most likely practice some more!



I had a dream last night. I usually don't remember my dreams, but for whatever reason this was one was particularly vivid. Anyways, you all know that I'm playing in a competition next Saturday (Houston Tuesday Musical Club)...in my dream, I got the day of the competition wrong and had to sprint over to the location and perform with a pianist provided by judges. For whatever reason, they didn't seem to care, and thought it was really funny that I didn't bring a pianist with me. I couldn't find a chair that I liked, and then when I did, the stage was slanted back, so much so that my chair was actually sliding backwards off the back of the stage. The judges didn't seem to think anything was wrong with this...then I realized there was a huge podium set up, and I asked if I could play there, which was ok with them.

Anyways...I somehow ended up playing really really well, except that the pianist was retarded and couldn't follow me at all. Dvorak was going really well, although I was very worried about how the pianist was going to sight-read the Carter. Luckily, I woke up before we got to it.


Mystery Gig

The mystery gig (as mentioned below) was revealed this morning, when I went to play the gig. All I knew was to show up at a Steakhouse (random) at 11am...so of course, I got there a bit early, in case we were supposed to start playing at 11...which it turned out we were. We were playing for a wedding, and nobody knew anything about anything that was happening...so we talked to the groom and decided to play the Wagner Wedding March for the bride...pretty standard...the minister came up to us and shared the fact that he knew nothing about what was going on either...so we played prelude music for 45 minutes (because the bride hadn't shown up yet) and then a quick rendition of here comes the bride...we were sitting outside in a gazebo, and it was kind of cold and maybe even raining a little bit...wish I had known that before...oh well, at least we were covered. Anyways, the ceremony was quick and painless and we got paid...so all is well that ends well, right?

Spring Recess

Right now at Rice, we are enjoying spring recess. This is not much of a break, however: only two days off of school. Last year it coincided with Easter. In case you were wondering. I was looking at my calendar yesterday, and I reallied how much stuff I have coming up...a contemporary opera, a very long gig (6 services), a few other gigs, yadda yadda yadda...but its better to be busy I suppose. Right?

The Musiqa Concert last night was a success...all of the pieces went over very well and I didn't end up making a fool of myself or anything. I hope I will be able to play with them again...its always so great to be able to just play a fun concert and actually get paid for it!! I guess thats why we do this...because when it all works it, its really not like working.

I have a mystery gig this morning...I have no idea what I am playing for. The music director of the Woodlands Symphony hired me and just gave me the address and the times...no other info. We'll find out soon enough what it is...I guess.


No Fun

It has been horrendously gorgeous here lately in terms of weather. Now that I've lived here in Houston for almost two years I can kind of feel where the seasons actually begin and end (since when it gets down to 60 in the winter I actually feel cold now...sorry Rochester, Boston, Chicago peeps). I had the perfect amount of snow for this year...snowed on day (very lightly) on Thanksgiving when I was home, and then a few days when I was home for winter break...it was nice to see it a few times and not have to deal with it afterwards!

That all being said, I have managed to get mildly sick despite the amazing weather. I'm not really sure where this came from...I was sitting outside having a latte with friends (it was 75 and not a cloud in the sky) and everything was right in the world. Even stopped by a $1 clothes sale (although I didn't find anything for myself)...but then, later in the afternoon when we were rehearsing with Susanne Mentzer (in a freezing room...air conditioning is already set on full blast here) and starting getting chills and aches...and then I was out of commission by 10pm (couldn't even finish watching Michael Clayton). Now I'm up at 4am...not really feeling any better or different. I hope this passes soon! I'm trying to drink a ton of Emergen-C and drink a lot of orange juice (and take zinc) but apparently Emergen-C doesn't really do anything after all...but I have a lot of it, so I'm gonna take it anyways.


Beer and Orchestra

This past weekend was our second orchestra concert of the semester. The day of the concert was also BeerBike...an event that I'm not totally sure what it even is. For whatever reason, the music grad students (or MUSI's as we are called here) take absolutely no part in this event, while a handful of grad students from other departments do actually attend. BeerBike consists of a bunch of people (aka most every undergrad student at Rice) getting up at 5 or 6am to get totally drunk. Then there is a water balloon fight. At some point people chug beer and race bikes, then everybody sits around all afternoon and drinks some more. I probably wouldn't really even know about this, except for the fact that our orchestra dress rehearsal was during the water balloon fight (it was originally scheduled during the bike race, but got changed) and all of the undergrads were really sad and complained about it. All of the grad students didn't really care.

Today I discovered that there is an undergrad pub in the basement of the student center. I had no idea it even existed. And I'm also confused ...since most undergrads aren't old enough to drink. Whatever.

More about BeerBike here.