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Rennes

After two years in Sarajevo and numerous auditions, it was time for me to leave. It was only a temporary position, and while I was working towards a permanent position, due to extenuating circumstances that was unable to happen.

Now I am happily living in France, working as an English assistant at a high school and playing with two ensembles, l’Ensemble ADaGio ESPressivo and l’Ensemble Sonopsie. While this wasn’t my original plan, I am very happy with how things are going and I’ll see where this takes me.

While in Sarajevo I had the opportunity to take auditions in Estonia, Croatia, Germany, Malta, and Austria. Some went really well, getting into the finals (Rijeka and Dubrovnik), while others fell short. Even though I was quite devastated after a couple of them, I’m glad I went through them and learned something from each one.

Unfortunately I became a little overzealous with my practicing regime when I returned to Sarajevo for my second season and injured myself quite badly. I’ve had a history of injuries involving my left arm, but this bout of tendinitis was much worse than I had ever experienced. I played the rest of the season with Sarajevo, taking some time off to rest, but I had to really consider my options as a full time orchestral musician and if it is really sustainable health-wise.

The transition has been difficult and is still an ongoing process. But I’m happy to still be playing music here in Rennes in some capacity, and also with a little less pressure. Although this is not where I thought my life would be in this moment, it’s been a good experience seeing where different opportunities will take me.


Sarajevo

So much has happened in this last year: I completed my Master’s at the University of North Texas and won a position with the Sarajevo Philharmonic for one season!  This amazing opportunity is a cultural exchange program through the Bosnian-Herzegovinian American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  It’s always been a dream of mine to live abroad, and I really enjoy orchestral performance; I’m looking forward to playing many operas and ballets as well as orchestral works.  I leave September 1 and I’m very excited for this opportunity to perform with a professional orchestra right out of my degree.

This summer I also participated in the Manchester Music Festival as a young artist with full scholarship.  This intense six-week festival focuses on chamber music performance, giving us the opportunity to perform every week and work with amazing faculty from around the country.  This summer I performed four works: Debussy’s string quartet, Dvorak’s piano quartet in A major, Haydn’s Op. 33 no. 2 quartet (“The Joke”), and Prokofiev’s string quartet no. 2.  Not only were the faculty and other young artists great to work with, but the community and sponsors were so inviting and supportive: without them this festival would not be what it is.  My sponsors for this summer were George and Norene Peck, a wonderful couple from Vermont that have been involved with the festival for decades now.  They were so sweet to sponsor me and take me to dinner during the festival, I would just like to thank them again for all of their support and hope to see them again!

This next year will be full of adventure and surprises and I can’t wait to begin!


Master’s: Year 2

My second and last year of my Master’s has begun in full swing.  Both school and outside gigs have been keeping me busy.  I’m currently teaching lessons in the Lewisville ISD at Downing Middle School, taking auditions with orchestras around the area and playing some gigs.  Doing this has helped me figure out what direction I want to go as graduation gets closer.

For me, I very much enjoy orchestral playing.  With that comes auditions, which can be a grueling process.  As we work so hard and diligently on our excerpts, many factors go into these excerpts and what audition committees are looking for.  Here is a brief list of things I’ve noticed in my practicing and [limited] experience:

  • Basic musical things: intonation, rhythm, tempo, dynamics, etc.
  • Technique
  • Musicality
  • Consistency

For technique, this means determining what the excerpt is showing you can do.  This could be spiccato/sautillé stroke in Mendelssohn Scherzo, saltando in Tchaikovsky 6 or even just a good détaché stroke in Mozart 35, movement IV.  This seems very obvious but sometimes verbalizing and breaking down what an excerpt is showcasing can help.

For musicality, this is not only making the excerpt not sound like a boring étude, but also know the musical context from which your excerpt is taken from.  Knowing how a piece goes, what comes before and after, and knowing what is going on in other parts will help tremendously in determining how you should execute a particular excerpt.  For example, knowing that in Shostakovich 5 the cellos have an ostinato rhythm underneath the high melody in the violas (which is then passed along to violins) will help keep your steady tempo as well as the mood of the excerpt.

Consistency.  This is one I have been struggling with for as long as I’ve been playing music.  I’ve put in the hours in the practice room and know I can play these things, yet something happens and it doesn’t always come out the way I want it to.  Partly for me is not falling into “autopilot” mode, I’ve been playing for so long that I can become unfocused, especially when I’ve played something a thousand times.  I stumbled across an interesting blog post about consistency in playing, and I’d like to keep it in mind as I continue to take more auditions.  The author discusses reacting and responding to your music in a positive way, while you’re playing it, and being aware of crunching down and other physical reactions as we get stressed while playing.  Here’s the link, and I hope you find it as thought-provoking as I did.

As I come back from an audition just yesterday, all of the things I did wrong are floating through my head and what could have gone better.  Some things went better than expected, some not as good as I had intended.  As I prepare for my next projects, New World Symphony auditions and my master’s recital, my goals include paying close attention to every small detail in my music and remaining focused in my practicing.


Settled in Texas

I’ve been in Denton, Texas for about a month now and in school at UNT for about 2 weeks. The atmosphere (besides the weather) is a lot different from Florida — there are SO MANY viola students here, let alone the rest of the school, and there are so many talented people who work hard and play really well. It’s really inspiring and I’m so amazed and fortunate to take part in what’s going on here.

My new teacher, Dr. Susan Dubois, is great!  I’ve worked with her before at Green Mountain and I’m really looking forward to her guidance with not only some of the physical issues I’ve had with playing (pain, soreness, etc) but also using those methods to play with a richer sound and just become a better musician.  So far I’m just working on refining some basic technique but it’s exactly what I need to focus on.  I’m also playing in the UNT Symphony Orchestra, Baroque ensemble and a piano quartet.  I’m doing a lot of practicing and rehearsals which can be tiring, but it’s definitely worthwhile.  There are 28 violists at the school (wow!) and the atmosphere in studio class is very much supportive so it’s great to be a part of it.

Regarding the pain and soreness I’ve been having, this is something that I have struggled with for many years due to overuse of certain muscle groups.  I’ve added swimming to my routine and recently have gotten back into weightlifting to help with strengthening. I’m hoping the combination of that plus the new playing techniques from Dr. Dubois will help alleviate these issues.

Despite all of the physical limitations, being in this environment truly inspires me to practice and focus on my craft, and even though I’m super busy it definitely is the right path for me.  I’m looking forward to the next two years here in Texas…


2013

Wow! It’s been almost a year since my last post…it’s been a crazy one.  Since last summer at Green Mountain, I have:

  • applied for a Fulbright scholarship
  • auditioned for graduate school
  • performed a solo with the Sun City Chamber Players
  • performed with Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra
  • given a recital
  • taught amazing students at Bigel Music
  • graduated from USF

among other things.  I applied to four schools for my master’s: University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, University of North Texas, University of Alabama and Université de Montréal.  I did UdeM as part of the Fulbright, as it is a scholarship to study abroad.  I didn’t end up receiving the scholarship, but the work that I put into learning and recording all of that repertoire was well worth it, as it prepared me for the upcoming auditions.

All in all, I was accepted at the University of North Texas and the University of Alabama, both with scholarships.  I officially decided to attend UNT for my master’s.  I’ve worked with the professor, Dr. Susan Dubois, over the last couple of summers at Green Mountain and cannot wait to study with her full-time!  The Master’s of Music program is 2 years, and I’m sure it will fly by.  Although I will miss all of my friends, family and students here in Florida, I am so excited to move to Texas.  I was able to be more focused during this extra year at USF and it made me feel ready to move onto graduate school.

I won’t be attending Green Mountain this summer, partially because of financial reasons (moving is expensive!), but I will be going to Berkeley, California for two weeks in July as part of the Crowden Music Center‘s summer program.  In the past it has been just for middle and high school students, but this year they are trying out having a college/grad level chamber ensemble.  My (former) teacher’s quartet will be one of the groups coaching us, the Baumer String Quartet, so I’m looking forward to it all!


Green Mountain 2012

I’m a little late in updating how my summer has been going — Green Mountain is about 3/4 over!  But I have been learning a lot:

This summer I studied with Sheila Browne (UNSCA) and Susan Dubois (UNT).  Both are Karen Tuttle students, so they had very similar ideas, but different ways of approaching them.  My first 3 lessons with Sheila were great! She really helped me bring out more musicality in my playing and to find more direction in where I’m going in the music.  She also gave me some great bow techniques to work on getting more “core” to my sound — an almost piercing clarity to the pitch.  As a violist, it’s important to bring out this deep, clear tone, even while playing piano or pianissimo, and often times it requires coaxing of the strings (especially G and C).  Learning this sensitivity, and being aware of all my fingers in my right hand, has been a real challenge for me, requiring a lot of time and patience.

I’ve only had one lesson with Susan so far, but I also took lessons with her last summer when I attended this festival.  We expanded upon what Sheila had taught me, focusing on the right elbow, string levels, and releasing my neck and body so everything is relaxed.  I’ve found that adjusting my posture so that it feels that I’m almost leaning backwards has really helped my core sound, now the trick is to make it a habit.  I’m still working on adjusting my setup (chin rest/shoulder rest combination), and I may have to add some height to my chin rest, mostly because I feel like I am just adding more weight to my shoulder rest while trying to add height, and it is also making my left arm work harder because it has to be higher.

Another thing that I have been noticing lately, even before I came to Green Mountain, was a tingling between my left shoulder blade and spine.  It may just take some time with all of this relaxing I’m trying to do, but I’ve tried massaging it and stretching every time I practice, and nothing seems to help.  It occurs on and off during the day, not just when I’m practicing either.  It’s probably just a pinched nerve, but I hope I don’t start losing feeling…I will probably go see my doctor and/or chiropractor when I return to Florida.

Since next week is the last week  of the festival, afterwards I am heading up to Montréal to take a lesson with Jutta Puchhammer-Sédillot.  I’m staying with a student of hers, and will spend a few days in Montréal as well, visiting with another friend from USF.  I’m really looking forward to this trip, especially because I went on the day trip with the festival to Montréal, and I loved the city.

My other post-festival trips include a family vacation to Maine/New England, which will be great!  Although I will still be practicing a lot — need to prepare for my Fulbright application and learn all of Bartok, Schumann, and some Bach.


End of semester/Beginning of summer

The semester ended about a week ago, and I’ve definitely been relaxing.  My recital and jury are finished, but now I’m getting ready for another recital in June (see calendar), as well as some performances with Venice Symphony and a wedding.  Aside from that music, I’ll be working on Bartok’s Viola concerto, which I’m EXTREMELY excited about (can’t wait until it comes in the mail!), as well as  Schumann’s Märchenbilder, Bach suite no. 3 and some orchestral excerpts.  I’ll also be taking a summer class on French Translation, another class to add to my French minor, and I’ll be going back to Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Vermont.

This year is pretty critical: I’ll be taking grad school auditions, so I need to really step up my game since I’m taking an extra year in my undergrad (because I switched from violin major to viola major).  I really want to go out of state for grad school.  My teacher is great here, but both he and I want me to explore the musical world outside of Florida.  So far for my grad school options, I have:

  • University of North Texas
  • Université de Montréal
  • New York University
  • Texas Tech University
  • Eastman
  • Boston Conservatory
  • Boston University
  • University of North Carolina School of the Arts

It’s a long list, but the top 3 are the ones I’m most interested in going to.  So far at Green Mountain, I’ve studied with professors that teach at UNT, NYU and Texas Tech, and I really enjoyed working with them.  This summer I’ll be working again with Susan Dubois and Sheila Browne (North Carolina), and I’m hoping to potentially get some lessons with some of the other faculty there.

I’ve also been emailing a friend of a friend who studies viola at the Université de Montréal, and she absolutely loves her teacher there.  This option really interests me, especially because it would allow me to utilize my French minor.  Everything is in French; classes, rehearsals, etc.; so it seems a bit daunting, but also a great experience (nothing like diving in head-first!).  I would like to take a lesson with one of the professor there, Jutta Puchhammer-Sédillot, and if that works out, my next plan would be to apply for a Fulbright scholarship.

I have lots of things to think about and plan out, and hopefully some of them work out!

Happy practicing!


New Semester

The new year is up and running, with plenty to be busy with.

This semester’s solo works include: Hindemith op. 25, no. 1; JC Bach Concerto in C minor; and Schumann Adagio and Allegro. I anticipate Hindemith with absorb most of my time, as it’s lack of tonality and abundance of double- triple- and quadruple-stops will keep me quite busy.  The JC Bach, son of the famous JS Bach, is a classical favorite, and the Schumann, I just recently discovered, was originally written for French Horn, but is frequently played by viola and cello.

For orchestra, our first concert we will be playing some pieces by Frank Zappa, Brahms’ Piano Concerto no. 1 with soloist Joshua Sawicki, Martin’s Ballade for Trombone with soloist Dillon Swift, and Britten’s Four Sea Interludes. For our second concert, the USF Symphony Orchestra will be tackling Mahler’s Symphony no. 3.

Should be a busy semester, as I will also be working on orchestral excerpts and applying to two festivals: Ivo-Jan Van der Werff’s viola camp in the Catskill Mountains, and the Schlern International Music Festival, taking place in Voels am Schlern, Italy.  I hope to get into both, although the Van der Werff one is very difficult to get into: only about 15 violist attend.

Wish me luck on recording, and happy practicing!


Recital Thanks

Thank you to everyone who came to my recitals!!  It was really great to see all of the support.

I’d like to specially thank my parents for being so supportive over the years, my teacher JT Posadas for helping me grow as a musician, and to Jeff Jordan, “The Stars” and the Sun City Center United Methodist Church for accompanying, helping out and making the November 13th recital possible.  It was great working with all of you, and I hope to do it again in the spring!

And if you missed out on these performances, come to the USF Symphony Orchestra concert on Sunday, November 20th at 2pm at the new School of Music concert hall located on the USF Tampa campus!  We’ll be playing the Beethoven Triple Concerto, featuring our esteemed professors Carolyn Stuart, violin; Scott Kluksdahl, cello; and Svetozar Ivanov, piano; the world premiere of Geoff Sheil’s Islands; and ending with Walton’s Symphony no. 2.

Hope to see you there!


More Performances to See!

Hi all!

I just wanted to give an updated version of all the recitals I will be playing in for the month of November (as listed on the right-hand menu column):

November 13, 2011 @ 7pm:
Now there are 2 chances to see my solo recital program!  This one is in Sun City Center, FL at the Sun City Center United Methodist Church, and I will be accompanied by Jeff Jordan, piano.  My program consists of the Hoffmeister Viola Concerto, Bruch Romanze and Schubert “Arpeggione” Sonata. Free admission.

November 14, 2011 @ 5:30pm:
This will be the same program as the night before, but at the USF Barness Recital Hall, located at the USF School of Music. Pianist Jana Cheteleva will be accompanying me for this performance. Admission is free and there will be refreshments to follow the performance.

November 16, 2011 @ 7pm:
This night will include all the members of Kathie Aagaard and JT Posadas’ viola studios performing viola solo and viola ensemble pieces.  I will be playing Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 6 with Nicole Kootz and pianist Aza Torshkhova. Free admission.

November 18, 2011 @ 8pm:
Scott Moore’s Composition Recital features original pieces composed by Scott Moore himself, and I will be performing on a piece called Vapor Trails, scored for alto voice, english horn, clarinet, bassoon, viola, cello and bass. Free admission.

November 20, 2011 @ 2pm:
This is the USF Symphony Orchestra performing Walton’s Symphony no. 2, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and an original piece written by USF graduate composition student Geoff Sheil called Islands. This performance is ticketed, check out USF’s School of Music website for more information: http://music.arts.usf.edu/

 

Hope to see you at some, if not all, of these performances!