My Cello So Far

As many of you probably know, I am having a cello made for me by Chris Dungey in Pocatello, ID. His cellos seem to be all the rage right now (recent purchases have been made Lynn Harrell and the principal of the Oregon Symphony). I tried a few out around the country and decided to go for it. Today I received some wood samples of what the cello might look like. I say might, because he said to call him and he will tell me about what I'm actually looking at. I think they look very pretty...although in a perfect world, I would love a shade darker...but I'll see what he has to say about it. (they are darker than they appear in the photo)

I haven't called Chris yet because I have been feverishly cleaning my apartment all day. It looked so gross when I woke up this morning, and something had to be done. I've literally been cleaning it all day. Please enjoy this clip of Lynn Harrell playing his new Dungey Cello.


Good Morning

Here I am...volunteering today. I'm sitting at the volunteer desk at the AIDS Foundation until one, and then I'm playing at the Children's Hospital from 2-3. How did I suddenly end up with all this volunteer work? Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I'm very happy to have something to fill up my day...for whatever reason it motivates me to do more...for instance, this morning I started working on my taxes...but when it got into school tuition and scholarship and interest, I got brain freeze and saved it to come back to later.

This morning I tried to pretend I was living in a real city, and decided to walk to Starbucks and get my latte...unfortunately, Starbucks is about 7 blocks (14 round trip) out of the way from where I was going...so I had to leave 45 minutes earlier than I wanted to. But believe it or not, I saw somebody reading the New York Times in there...not a very common site here in Arkansas.

Also, please note my very cute piano tie shirt. Thank you. I'm wearing it for the first time today.



I guess this post probably will be of no interested whatsoever to those who don't watch the show...but what in the world are they trying to do to us? As if there weren't enough unanswered questions already...do they really have to spend two entire episodes posing more? If it wasn't enough for us to not know what the smoke monster is, what the numbers mean, what the island even is, who Richard Alpert is, what on Earth the deal with Claire is (is she even still a character?), if Benjamin Linus and Charles Widemore ever tell the truth (and what exactly their relationship is)...now we have to wonder what happened to Aaron, who beat up Benjamin Linus, who that butcher lady is, why is Eloise Hawking worth killing somebody over, why everyone boarding that plane...and we have to deal with a new batch of 10 million characters who just crashed on the island...and apparently the Oceanique 6 all ended up in different points in time when they went back to the island.

Geez. I'm confused now.

For those of you who are just starting out watching LOST, take this as a warning, that is only gets more and more complicated every episode. I'm too involved now to stop.


Thank You Moby

Today the Sturgis Quartet took another trip down to Hot Springs...it seems like its the only place we go these days. Not that I'm complaining, its just about an hour drive time, which beats driving to places like Yellville (which was over three hours away). I do have reason to complain however...after we made our usual stop at Starbucks, my pants got caught on some random metal bar when I was getting in to Moby (the ASO van) and ended up a little on the ripped side (as you can see in the picture). Luckily they were (are?) my back-up/extra pair of dress pants...but still, I wear them all the time!! And yes...I had to do the whole demo with my leg showing through my pants...I'm surprised I didn't get any questions about it at the end...just my quartet-mates laughing at me.



Today I am volunteering at the Arkansas Aids Foundation. Its kind of exciting because I get a desk and answer the phone and direct calls. I guess its really not all that exciting. But it is nice to have something to do...its right across the street from my apartment, so they call me when a regular volunteer doesn't show up...and it seems like I might become a regular on Monday mornings. Which happens to be a symphony day off.

We are playing Beethoven 9 this week...which happens to be one of my favorite pieces to play. It was my first concert when I joined the Chicago Youth Symphony, back when I was a sophomore in high school, and we played it two summers ago at Tanglewood...its such an amazing piece, and is always so much fun to play. So I'm expecting to have a very nice week...thank you very much.

I did watch to Oscars last night. Perhaps this year I will make more of an effort to actually see more of the movies. I only saw Slumdog...which happened to win best pic. Go me.



So apparently the Oscars are on tonight...I really had no idea until my mom told me. Well, maybe I kind of knew, but just didn't really care all that much. I remember just a few years ago I was very involved in the Oscars and movies in general...so much so that I would make sure to see every movie that was possibly going to be considered for an award (sometimes multiple times). It was much easier back then as I had a membership to the Little Theatre, in Rochester, NY, which was always playing all the best movies and I could go there for free on Sundays.

This year I saw very few movies in the theater...and Slumdog Millionaire is the only one up for any awards that I'm aware of (Role Models and Mama Mia were not really up to snuff to win an oscar I think). I'm not sure if I'm even going to watch or not...well, if I'm not doing anything, which is likely, I probably will. Last year I didn't see them since I was traveling to Rochester and ran into major problems with Airtran...while the Oscars were on I was driving from Buffalo to Rochester in a rental car with a random guy and his daughter. And the year before I don't remember what I was practicing for, but I was practicing for something during to commercials. Possibly my masters recital?? hmmmm.


I Believe

Cher believes in life after love:

The Chipmunks believe they can fly:


Hello Hot Spings

Yesterday, my quartet did six demos at a school in Hot Springs, AR. Its the first time in a looong time when I really put in a full days worth of work. As an orchestral musician, its usually just random stuff here and there and it doesn't often make me very busy...but yesterday morning, we met at 8am and drove down to Hot Springs (where Bill Clinton grew up) and did six Images of America demos. It actually turned out to be kind of fun...although I was getting ADD for the last three and kept doing crazy stuff during Fig Lead Rag...just to see what I could get away with. Oops.

We also got about an hour to check out Hot Springs and grab some lunch (the downtown area was right down the street from the school). HS is actually a pretty nice town...we ate at Cafe 1217 which was pretty good, and ended up grabbing coffee at a place on Bathouse Row (where all of the baths with the hot springs are...duh)...pictured above, it happens to be the only picture I took, Oops.

During question time one girl asked me if I had a wife that played music as well. Not exactly a question I was expecting.



I'm a little bit confused as to why they never show LOST at the correct time here in Arkansas. I guess the show is just not remotely popular here and Arkansans prefer to watch college basketball. Which is always what they seem to show instead. Rather than just pushing LOST back an hour or so, they continue with regularly scheduled programming, including all the news and the late shows...and then LOST comes on at 12:30am or 1:30am or even sometimes 2:30am. This makes no sense to me. I have made some attempts to watch LOST at its late night airtime here...I usually fall asleep before it comes on, but once I actually made it to 1:30am, fell asleep right before it started, and woke up in the final moments. I was very annoyed and I have just given up trying to watch it since then and just visit abc.com the next day and watch in on my computer. Lame I know. In case you haven't seen lost before...here is a little summary of the first three seasons...you'll have to watch 4 if you want to get caught up all the way.


I just wanted to share with you that I listened to Elliott Carter's Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord tonight as background music when I made some soup (and ate it). I found it to be quite delightful. I'm wondering if this makes me "not normal." Please let me know. I couldn't find a video of this piece on youtube...so please enjoy Norman Fischer (my most recent teacher!!!) performing the 4th movement of the Carter Cello Sonata (at Rice). I also find this piece equally delightful. I know, I'm strange.


Hello Pine Bluff

Since I have decided to really get back to blogging, this means that you will be forced to read about my regular everyday life which includes driving to random towns and villages all over Arkansas presenting one of two programs about the string quartet. Today's program was "Papa Haydn" and we drove to the not-so-far-away town of Pine Bluff to present it.

I had been down to Pine Bluff one time earlier this year to play the Messiah at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff...admittedly, its not the nicest place in the world. According to wikipedia, Pine Bluff is the 7th largest city in Arkansas, but used to be 2nd largest and one of the most wealthy in the state. It is not anymore. Its very run-down, and not very pleasant.

As for the demo, it went pretty well, only one class was a bit on the noisy side, which I'm never very good and controlling. Say "shhhhh" and "quiet down" didn't have much effect, but it didn't really seem like the teachers had much control over it either. At one point the principal of the school came in and interrupted our presentation to say he wished that some musicians would volunteer to teach music for free at his school. We were kind of surprised he did that...and he didn't even stay for the presentation. Hmmmm.

I forgot to take a picture today, so I have included a photo of the Arkansas Symphony van...which the symphony members have nicknames Moby. We drive Moby to every demo and I dread it every time...I really dislike driving big cars. It makes me uncomfortable.


Presidential Rankings

C-Span released a list today of how a group of 65-historians thought all of the presidents ranked up. Abe Lincoln scored the top spot (just like he did back in 2000 when they last compiled the list). Bush is not surprisingly near the bottom of the list, ranked at No. 36 (should be lowed if you ask me)...of course I haven't really been alive long enough to accurately judge these rankings...I really only remember Dubya and Bill (who ranked No. 15...jumping up from 21 in 2000)...I wasn't born when Reagan was elected, and only 5 when the first Bush was elected...so I'm hardly an expert.

I found that there are actually lots of different opinions on this issue (well, duh)...and you can see them all compiled in a fairly large chart in a wikipedia entry. There are always the same ones at the top, obviously, but its interesting to see what everyone thinks. I trust Barack will work his way to the top of the list shortly.

Mardi Brawl

Yesterday I attended my first roller derby bout. I had never seen anybody play roller derby before, or even heard anything about it...but Charlie's friend Megan was playing her first real match, so we went to support her. For those of you who don't know, roller derby consists of a bunch of girls skating around in circles in a pack...with two girls skating much faster (called the jammers). They go round and round and round and beat each other up and push each other on the floor and shove each other off the track and kneel down and let others trip over them. Its quite brutal.

I couldn't tell you how the scoring works...something about the first jammer to get in front of "the pack" is able to score each time they get around the track...but every time I tried to count how many points they scored, I was waaaay off. There are also penalties for violence, but for some reason or other, nobody ever gets called out on them, no matter what kind of awful things they do. Imagine that.

Each girl also has a very cute little nickname...such as Coco Booty, or Slaymaker, or Covalent Bondage. Those were all girls from the Little Rock team...and yes, we got totally killed. I think the ending score was something like 115 to 40 (we were playing Fort Smith). But what do you expect when the team prides themselves on not playing "too dirty"...it seems to me that its a pretty dirty game...hmmmm.

The whole thing seemed pretty Arkansas white trash to me. I didn't know they even made roller skates anymore.


Quick Question

How did this: Become this??



As I have no real news to report. I would like to leave you with this image of meat as cooked by my dad on Christmas. Thank you.


Hello Again

Ok ok...its been over a month, but I think I'm finally ready to get back into this whole blogging thing. Famous last words, right??? Well, here goes, all sorts of crazy stuff has been going on.

I spent last week playing with the New Worlds Symphony in Miami Beach. I thought it would be nice to spend a week in Miami and see a ton of friends I hadn't seen in a while...but I ended up totally loving the orchestra. It was concerto week (we played seven concertos on two concerts...5 of them violin concertos) and it was great to play with Martin and KCB (yay Rice/Tanglewood!!)...all of the soloists sounded great. It was nice to have a dinner invitation every night I was there and to catch up with so many old (and new) friends. And yes....I'm doing the audition in a few weeks.

In other news...the Arkansas Symphony is having some trouble...we heard a rumor that the Sturgis Quartet (the one I play in) was going to be disbanded at the end of the season...and then the rumor became fact, and then the players committee freaked, and then the administration took it back...and then the executive director resigned and they kind of forgot about Sturgis. So now it looks like we will still have our jobs for next season...but nobody is really sure about anything. I don't think the orchestra is in the best situation: no music director, no executive director and financial problems...oops. But all seems to be running smoothly now. According to people who have been in the orchestra for a while, this happens all the time and they never end up getting rid of Sturgis...but keep threatening too. I'm sure it will happen eventually. Maybe not.

We are playing a Mancini concert this week...its kind of fun...kind of boring at the same time. A few weeks ago we played Shostakovich 5th Symphony...which was probably the best I've ever heard the Arkansas Symphony sound before. Still not as good as Tanglewood or Rice...but fun to play with. For a change.

I was actually starting to get used to Little Rock...the trip to Miami came at the perfect time, because I realized how many things I really don't like about LR. Its so easy to just get used to your surroundings and be happy with them...even if they totally suck.