Monday, July 9, 2012

A Feast of Brahms

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had an amazing weekend!  As I mentioned in my last post, I was very excited about my weekend full of concerts, but I could not have imagined just how incredible the weekend turned out to be.

Saturday night was the student concert, and I was blown away by my fellow students at Foulger.
Of course, all of the student performers were incredibly talented, and it was fun to hear so many 
different student performers, but what I was really impressed by was the support we all showed for one another and the sense of camaraderie which has already developed.  
There is a very large range in age among the students, so some of the older students are in their 
upper 20s while some of the younger students are only 10 or 11.  
If you think about it, this is a very large gap, and I can't imagine many other circumstances 
when students with this large of an age gap can come together as a community.  
However, there we were, clapping enthusiastically after each performer, supporting our colleagues 
even when the concerts ran long, and goofing off together before and after the performances.

age gap:: upper 20's to teens.  Friends who musically goof off together, stay together?  haha
(violin lesson for Alex, the pianist)
Photo cred: Allison Eldredge  

And on Sunday, we had the 'Feast of Brahms' concert.
I can't tell you how incredible this day was.
Actually, the whole week of preparing for this day was incredible.
As I mentioned before, I was performing with two of the faculty, Allison Eldredge (Cello) and 
Hsin-Yun Huang (Viola), and a fellow fellow, Alex Beyer (Piano).
From the first rehearsal when I heard all of them play, I was in awe; they were so amazing!
I must admit, I was a little bit cowed at first, and felt rather inadequate in my own playing.  
I mean, how could I not when so much of the Brahms we were working on had duet work among the group members and I could so clearly hear the stark difference between the colors they were able to produce and the ones I was able to produce... sad...  
so I worked. and worked.  remember this post?  
now you know the reason behind my unusually intense practice regime.  haha  ;)

But actually, later in the week, as we neared our performance, what was hindering my performance 
during rehearsals was actually the very feeling of inadequacy which had driven me to practice so much 
earlier in the week.
The kind of character I feel most comfortable portraying is the robust, exciting, fiery, 
give-it-all-you've-got, kind of a character in music, and I knew I was in trouble when I was given 
comments like, "you need to give more, be more exciting." and "Lead more."
These were things I had never had to worry about before, and I knew I was not being fully myself in my playing.  I was trying to be more sensitive, which IS a comment I usually get, 
and I was obviously over-compensating.

It's a funny thing, this mental block we develop as musicians. 
Sometimes it's of the silliest things, yet it can be so detrimental to our playing!  And though my mental block was not silly--they really are so much better than I am--I knew that I had to get over it in order to give a great chamber music performance. 

As someone who lives by the motto 'mind over matter', I am ashamed to say that it took me an absurdly long time to break through this block.  Allison even told me to view her and Hsin-Yun as colleagues 
in this group rather than as faculty, and though I understood it completely, I was still unable to put it to action. 
What finally did work, was one of my friends at the dress rehearsal telling me I sounded like a pansy.
What?!  I NEVER sound like a Pansy!!!!

So by the time the concert came around, I was able to just let everything go, and really enjoy making music together with these amazing musicians.  The whole concert of all three Brahms Piano Quartets was wonderful, and though I can't necessarily put into words what the concert was like and do it justice, I think everyone, both on stage and in the audience, felt it.
It's definitely an experience I will treasure for many many years to come, and I feel extremely blessed to have been given such an incredible opportunity.

The whole Mary Foulger Institute.  Fellows and Faculty.

Our group!!!  

<3     =)

my fellow fellow!  we matched and everything  ;)

Mr. Kim, the Executive Director.
This would never have happened without him! yay!

I am so thankful for everyone involved who made this concert and the institute experience possible.
Though the Mary Foulger Institute is over, there are still 3 more weeks of the festival remaining, 
and I'm so excited to continue to grow and develop here.

Oh, and have I mentioned how awesome my fellow students are here? 
Stay tuned for more student-life related posts to come  ;)
Happy Monday!

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