Thursday, July 26, 2012

Masterclass with Samuel Rhodes

Hello everyone,

I am playing the Mendelssohn Octet these last two weeks of Foulger, and we had the amazing
opportunity to play for Mr. Samuel Rhodes last Monday!  Mr. Rhodes is the violist of the 
Juilliard String Quartet, and I can't express just how excited all of us were to be able to play for him 
and get his input on the 3rd movement of the octet.

He listened to 2 of the viola students here before listening to the chamber groups, and since one of them was our 1st violist, Rachel, the whole octet went to support and cheer for her.
She played so well!!
Yup, that's our violist.

our violist!

And the next student was Linden, who played Bach.
I was blown away.
She is so young and so tiny, yet somehow she managed to maneuver around that large viola 
without any problem!!

Mr Rhodes playing the piano.  proving a point.  haha!
he was so great in teaching her  =)
Mr. Rhodes is such a great teacher, and he has a great sense of humor, 
which the audience very much so appreciated.  =)
but what I noticed the most was how incredible his sound was!
It was so beautiful, so warm...  it was like warm honey...
he wasn't even performing, only demonstrating his point, but every time he played, 
all of us were drooling over every single note he played..
it almost made me want to play the viola.. almost..  haha  ;)

Before our octet played the other groups performed, and though I didn't stay for the whole thing 
(our group had to go warm up) what I heard of it was really wonderful!!
Schumann Piano Quintet

Dvorak Piano Quintet

Our performance of the octet went pretty well.
It's always interesting trying to put a chamber work together in 1 week, 
and when the number of players in the group increases, the process slows exponentially.  
Octet is the biggest chamber group I have played in, and it always comes with 
so many more challenges than, say, a quartet.
First of all, it's pretty darn impossible to find a time when all of us are free to rehearse 
except for the allotted hour per day, and even then, because we have had injuries and other commitments, we only had 1-2 times when all 8 of us were together before this masterclass.

Also, more people means that many more conflicting ideas...
and as we are all strong musicians with just as strong opinions about how the piece should sound...
well, let's just say that there can be a healthy dose of tension during rehearsals  haha
but what is really wonderful about octet playing is that when we all agree on something and all of us are playing together, there is so much power!  It can really be exhilarating.  
Especially the last movement.  whoo!
Way to write that Mendelssohn!  Especially when you were 16 years old! 

Mendelssohn scherzos are famous for being difficult because we have to be playing extremely fast, 
yet also extremely light and quiet, and we were definitely struggling... 
I mean, in order to be quiet enough, we were almost not playing at all!  
Because there are 8 of us, it works out in the audience, but it's definitely a difficult concept to grasp on stage, especially when you can't hear yourself playing at all.
and this also makes playing extremely fast passages together that much more difficult..
Thankfully, Mr. Rhodes had wonderfully helpful things to say about it, 
and I really loved the imagery he provided of lightening bugs on a summer night.  =)

This experience was extremely special for me because last summer, I got to hear Mr. Rhodes play this exact octet as a part of the Juilliard Quartet along with the Chiara Quartet (my teachers!) 
at Greenwood (only the best place on earth!).

the Juilliard Quaret members in the green Greenwood sweaters and the Chiaras in white.

I remember being soo excited during their performance, and I hope that our group can bring as much excitement to the audience when we perform!
We will be closing tonight's concert at Enlow Recital Hall that starts at 7 pm, so if you'd like to hear us, tune into here and click the little Enlow picture  =)  
We'll probably perform around 9:30 pm!

Thanks for stopping by!