Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A long(est) layover in Minneapolis..

Hello everyone!

I was supposed to be back home tonight in Seattle, but alas, I find myself alone in Minneapolis for the night.
Though I am rather travel weary--my travels in the past two days have included a road trip from NJ to Boston, bus ride from Boston to NYC, public transportations from Penn Station to Laguardia, and an airplane ride half way across the country--and the last thing I would have wanted was to be delayed overnight in a city I do not know, I find that I am actually quite at peace, and very thankful 
for everything that has happened yesterday and today.

so here are my
travel musings.

road trip from NJ to Boston
1. Why didn't Tom and I ever hang out at Foulger?  We spent almost 6 hrs sitting next to each other during the road trip, and it was awesome.  I learned a lot about his farm--they farm with oxen! how cool is that?!
2. It's really confusing to navigate the NJ highway system. But it brought a lot of laughter to the beginning of our road trip because we kept getting so hopelessly lost  haha
3. I really like Boston.  and Cambridge.  
4. also, the people in it are pretty great.  miss them already.

bus ride from Boston to NYC
1. Thank you to the Boltbus guy for steering me away from the wrong bus--almost ended up in Albuquerque or something like that.  Whew!

public transportation from Penn Station to Laguardia
1. NYC subways have WWWAAYYY too many stairs...  especially if you are carrying 2 suitcases.
2. but thankfully, the people are really nice and will help you up multiple flights of stairs even if they were heading down them originally.  Thank you dear strangers!
3. Thank you to the NYC cop and his cutest German shepherd who led me to the right subway and decided to let me through the gate for free--especially since I don't think I had enough left on my metro card!
4. Thank you dear taxi driver for the comprehensive lesson on Indian music.  It was really fascinating!

1. thank you to the customer service person who tried so hard to find a different flight for me (my original flight got delayed and I was going to miss the connecting flight).  Though she didn't succeed and had to call her supervisor, she tried so hard for almost half an hour..
2. thank you supervisor for getting things sorted out in 5 min.  I don't think I could have stood there for much longer...
3. thanks Delta for providing me with a hotel and meal vouchers for the night when I missed the connecting flight in Minneapolis (2nd connecting flight missed of the day...) I thought it was a weather delay?  whatever. no complaints here  =)
4. so excited for my dinner at midnight--yay for 24 hr delivery restaurants!

It's a funny thing, really, being by myself in this quiet hotel room; 
I've been constantly surrounded by people for the past 4 weeks, and that's also how it is during the most of the year for me. I'm a rather social creature, and thus I find myself spending almost entirety of my waking hours with people.
And when I'm not with people, I'm usually working on something, or there's usually music playing, or a movie playing, etc.

So having this complete silence and being all by myself, doing absolutely nothing, is definitely a peculiar experience for me.
Perhaps because of that, my thoughts seem louder than normal.
but perhaps also running at a slower pace and therefore clearer...?
or maybe just more in the foreground rather than swarming around in the background.
or maybe it's just a byproduct of me being incredibly sleep deprived.

I would go to bed, but my sleeping cycle is... a bit off kilter at the moment  haha
also, the fact that I have to be up at 4:30 am is really putting a damper on my desire to sleep.
it would be much easier to stay up until then than to get up at that ungodly hour...

in the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy the best salad of my life.

Talk to you soon with the Lincoln Center update!
It'll be more coherent, I promise. haha!
Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Last Foulger Concert Marathon

Hello everyone!

I hope you are enjoying your weekend!
At Foulger, we have been incredibly busy preparing for, and performing in multiple concerts this weekend.
It all started on Thursday night with a student concert in which the Mendelssohn Octet performed.

With our coach, Andy Mark!
I thought it was a fine performance, and it was so fun to play with all of these wonderful musicians =)
We get another chance at performing tomorrow at the Lincoln Center!!!  woot! NYC here we come yet again!
The performance will be at 11 am, so if you are in NYC and would like to come hear us play, please drop by!  =)

The next night, on Friday, we had the final faculty concert, which I LOVED per usual.
It was a night of Barber string quartet (omg. slow movement. so beautiful..), Piazzolla Summer, Gershwin Porgy and Bess (played on viola instead of violin) and Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence.

the beautiful Barber adagio for strings!!

Piazzolla!!!  I love Piazzolla!
and they were so great!

Porgy and Bess!!  perfect outfits right?
the hat really did it for me. couldn't stop laughing.
it was written for violin, and played on viola...  yup, she's a beast! so good!
Souvenir de Florence!
what a wonderful performance.
I could gush and gush about this concert, but I have already gushed and gushed about the amazing faculty concerts here and here  so I'll spare everyone any more gushing.  But let me just say.. it was INCREDIBLE!  ok. done.

Tonight, we had another student concert in which I played the first movement of the Prokofiev Violin Concerto 1 with the pianist Tae Kim, as well as the Beethoven Quartet Op.59 No. 1.

Photo cred: Christine Chen =)  thanks Christine!

Beethoven 59 1!!

Both of the works were put together in a rather short amount of time, which always makes me rather anxious, and anxiousness does not bode well in a performance situation.
However, I would choose to perform these works again under such constraints just for the chance to work with all of these wonderful musicians  =)
man.. I'm really going to miss playing with and just being around all of them..

Tomorrow, we are finishing up this wonderful experience at the Lincoln Center, and I can't think of a better ending for these amazing 4 weeks!  So excited!  =D
Please join us if you are able at the Lincoln Center for a wonderful day filled with music!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Salsa dancing in NYC

Hello everyone,

A couple of nights ago, we started salsa dancing randomly at Foulger, and though Timmay and I tried our best to show them the moves we knew, we knew it was nothing compared to what they would experience in a real salsa bar watching and dancing with real street salsa dancers.
(because there is a huge difference between street salsa dancers and ballroom salsa dancers. 
I, for example, am a ballroom salsa dancer, and I was completely lost when I was dancing with 
a street salsa dancer... all these crazy, cool, and rather fuzzy leading techniques)
So on Saturday night, we decided to try out our moves in NYC in a real salsa club.  
(It was definitely an impromptu decision, but we seem to thrive on these as a group...)
A couple of us had been to this bar before, Iguana,--as seen in this post--
so we led the rest of the crew to the same bar.  

getting food on our way to the salsa bar!!
hahaha Christine and Tae...
if Tae would smile, she wouldn't have to do that  ;)

What we didn't realize, however, was the fact that Saturday night in NYC and Sunday night in NYC
are completely different matters altogether.  
This was how it was Sunday night:
no bouncers, no carding, no lines, cover fee of $5.
This was how it was Saturday night:
2 intimidating bouncers, carding, looong lines, and cover fee of $12-20.
This was a problem since not all of us were over 21, and none of us felt like paying the cover fee,,,
so we decided to start our own again!

Homemade salsa dancing partay!

since I was dancing the whole time, I forgot to take pictures of the actual dancing,,
but it was a grand time   =D

Tae and his groupies.  he loves us  =p
and when we got tired of dancing, we played with the nerf guns.

battling it out.  western style.
5 steps, turn, shoot.
and we found that girls had better aim than guys  =p

and when we got tired and hungry from burning all those calories, we made some food and enjoyed it.
I'm not a huge fan of pancakes, but it seems the exercise and the company makes all the difference!

pancakes and strawberries!

and before we headed back to Foulger, we decided to stop by Ktown
to enjoy another Korean meal  =)
are we sad or glad to be heading back to Foulger?  haha
I can't believe that we are already in our 4th and last week of Foulger!
These 3 weeks have really flown by, and it's funny to think that I have grown so fond of these lovelies
in such a short amount of time.
It's almost as though summer music festivals are in a different dimension where time is expanded.
The time ticks by slower inside the festival than in the real world so that 
a week of festival time equals a couple of weeks in the real world...
This is the only way I can explain the amount of work we get done, 
as well as how much I've grown to love the friends I've met here.
It's a phenomenon I have witnessed ever since I started attending these summer festivals many years ago, and the contradiction of the weeks seemingly flying by much faster than usual, and the incredible amount of work and socializing we do (months and months' worth) that is compacted into that time 
has always boggled my mind.

This week is going to be of no exception, I am sure.  
It will be perhaps one of the busiest weeks as we prepare for our performances at the Lincoln Center this Sunday, and because we don't want the festival to end and have to say bye to all of the friends we have made here, the time will seem to fly by even quicker than before.
Though I always get a little sad at the end, the nice thing about the music world is that it is so small that chances are very high that I will see these people again and again in the near future  =)

Thanks for stopping by, and happy Monday!!

Friday, July 20, 2012


hello everyone,

just a passing thought.  curse you insomnia!
but have you noticed that being upset takes about 100 times more energy than being happy?
i find it's quite exhausting, actually.
a killer headache also seems to tag along wherever it goes.
i don't know how people do it.

it is also rather counter productive as being upset takes up so much of your brain space that there's little left for anything else.
and when you get nothing done, you just feel that much worse about everything else.
what a vicious cycle.

so...  if i were to choose a more energy efficient and productive way of being...
then happiness it is!  =)

happy saturday!


Hello everyone!

Foulger is an amazing place to practice because,,, well, there really is not much else to do.  
However, it is by no means a dull place.  why?  because we are musicians, 
and therefore one creative bunch of folk, and we have no problem amusing ourselves  ;)

Here are some footages of the shenanigans that happen around here.

Being the music nerds that we are, even our shenanigans happen around musical instruments.
For example, have you ever watched a very theatrical version of a violinist playing the piano and milking every single note of a Chopin prelude?  
It is sure to have everyone in the room laughing.
If you add to that a man laying across the top of the piano? --not a woman, a man.
That is the recipe for everyone being on the floor rolling around and clutching their sides.

photo cred: jordan hamilton

Yesterday, right before this photo was taken, we even had 
an impromptu salsa/tango/argentine tango dancing session!  
You just never know what will happen when you put a bunch of musicians together  haha 

There's never a dull moment in musicians' company;
We even have fun with just a bathroom mirror, see?
--find the nearest musician near you--   haha  ;)

photo cred: timmay

I love them. seriously.  =D
Happy weekend!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Suite 205

Hello everyone!

I have been incredibly blessed to have really amazing group of people around me almost everywhere I go, and Foulger has been no exception.  Everyone in my chamber groups has been wonderful to work with, the large group of friends I have made and hang out with here constantly make me laugh, and I have the most amazing roomies ever!

These lovely ladies of the Suite 205 are Jean and Meredith.  Jean and I are actually rooming together, but since Meredith is an RA, she has a room to herself.  The three of us are very different in almost every aspect--personality, appearance, hobbies, fashion,,, you name it--yet we have so much fun together, and manage to get along extremely well. =)

So let me introduce them one by one.

This is Meredith--you can check her blog out here.
She's really into vintage clothing, and sometimes she seems to have popped out of some 1960-70's magazine.  (but a much skinnier version of the models because the models back then were rather curvacious and Meredith has got to be one of the skinniest people I know...)
This girl and I go waaaay back.  The first time I met her was during our Sophomore year of high school.  We were both at the Nebraska All-State, and I honesty don't remember much about our encounter other than the fact that she was playing Ziguenerweisen by Sarasate. haha
Since that obscure meeting, we have gotten to know each other much better as we spent the last 4 years together at UNL, last 3 years together in Julie's studio, last 2 summers attending same summer festivals--this year is our 3rd year attending the same festival together!!--and last year flying all over the United States taking lessons from prospective teachers and auditioning for graduate schools together.
We were given the 'Dynamic Duo' award at the last festival, and though we will be quite far away next year, I am sure we will run into each other quite often during the summers--the music world is quite tiny--and bring much brightness and giggles to the future summer festivals    ;)

see what I mean? skull necklace and a baggy sweater.  and that awesome skirt!

This is Jean!!!!
We met last summer at a festival, and I remember envying her sense of fashion the first time I saw her.
She has a really edgy, contemporary, yet really cute sense of style, and though I could never pull them off, I would still like to have her wardrobe  haha.  She can just throw on skull necklaces and baggy sweaters and make everything look so cool!
It's been so great getting to know her much better as we share a room together.  She is one of the sweetest people I have ever met, and she is an incredible friend and listener.  You know with some friends, you just feel really comfortable sharing just about anything because you know they won't be judging you?  well, I think that's the kind of person Jean is.

Jean, Janny, and Meredith.   Suite 205.

Yay!  So that's our suite.
It is full of giggles, late night talks, and lots of stuff strewn about in an organized chaos kind of a way.  'tis the best. =)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The night 4 friends acted out a scene from an action movie

Hello everyone!

On Sunday, Foulger unleashed almost all of its students in NYC--imagine the start of the Boston Marathon, and that's kind of how it was I think.  Poor New Yorkers, they didn't know what hit them  haha

It was truly a wonderful day that ended with an epic episode that highly resembled a scene from an action movie.  But before we get to that part, here are the other wonderful aspects of our trip.

First and foremost, we had to go eat Korean food.  Remember this post?  It was a necessity. 
yay food!
The Koreans (on the left side) all had Sulungtang, and Alice and Fahad had Mandooguk and Bibimbab respectively.  It was kind of funny that all of us got such hot dishes when it was also incredibly hot and humid outside, but perhaps because of that, when we came out, we didn't think the weather was so unbearable! =)

And we were so proud of Fahad!  He ate the whole meal using chopsticks!  no forks for this manly man!

and then began the shopping...
lots and lots of it.
too much of it.

but we enjoyed the beginning of it very much!
We first entered Chanel and tried on ridiculously expensive shoes.  I mean, why is it necessary that a sandal that is made of the sole and a thin piece of leather costs as much as a computer?  It isn't.  
but we had fun trying them on anyway.
And Burberry had really nice smelling perfumes..

But those smells were nothing compared to this place!
Porto Rico Importing Co.!
oh the smell of amazing coffee!!!

And they had the best names: Vienna Sumatra Mandheling.  so exotic!

at probably another ridiculously expensive shop...  we went to so many of them that I can't keep track...

Now this place.  This place was really something.
Do not be fooled by such an innocent looking banner of this shop. (is it innocent looking? hmm can't tell)
Alice and I were talking, not paying much attention to where we were going, and letting the boys lead.  Perhaps that was the mistake?   haha
Anyway, we walked into the shop, still very much so deeply in conversation, when we noticed the much darker lighting and a rather strong smell of some sort of (apparently it's supposed to be seductive) perfume.
It was a lingerie shop (with extra... things).  A very high class one apparently.
They had really nice chairs, and by this point, that was all we wanted in a store, so we thought about staying.
However, we left pretty quickly as the store workers kept asking us if we needed any help... multiple times...

We definitely had fun, but man!  Shopping is really tiring!  Especially when you do it for 5 hours!

 After eating sushi for dinner, we decided to try a salsa bar.  
Things were not looking great at this point because it had started pouring in NYC
and none of us had umbrellas.  
When we got to the salsa bar 8 blocks away from the subway station, drenched and tired, 
we found out that the bar was closed.

At this point, the little Foulger group of 10 or so people decided to split up, and 
Jean, Fahad, Tonya, and I ventured out on our own. 
Initially, our plan was to just go back to Foulger, but we had left at an odd time for us to catch the train, 
so we decided to find something fun to do for an hour until we could catch the next train.  
As we were contemplating getting something to eat at a pastry shop (definition of fun = eating. haha) 
we struck up a conversation with the clerk there who gave us some napkins
--we were drenched, and must have looked quite the pitiful bunch--
and informed us of another salsa bar right around the corner from the pastry shop!
We arrived completely soaked, but the amazing dancers at the bar didn't seem to care, and we all danced the night away.

The guy wasn't a very good photographer..

This girl's got moves!!

Unfortunately our dancing was cut short at 10:45 when we realized we had to get back to the Penn station to catch the 11:07 train. 

We quickly left the bar, but the urgency was completely forgotten as soon as Jean mentioned 'pastries'.
Jean had gotten them from Korean Town earlier, and we spent a couple of blissful minutes passing them around.
I have never tasted better pastries!


We were about to buy more when we realized that we had forgotten about the train, and this is when the scene from an action movie began to take place.

We instantly started running for the subway station, but in the middle of running, I heard Jean say "go on! go without me! I'll catch up with you guys later!"
We hesitated for a couple of seconds, but at another urging from Jean, we began to run again.
The problem was that the only person who knew NYC was Jean.
Fahad, Tonya, and I stood outside of a subway station, running in place, watching the clock ticking by.

By the time Jean caught up to us, it was 10:57.
Because we knew we wouldn't make it to the Penn station in 10 minutes via subway, we hailed a cab.
The first one was out of service.
The second one agreed to take us, but said it would be impossible to get to the station in 5 minutes.

At 11:03 the taxi was stalled in the middle of the road about 2 1/2 blocks from the station.
We all jumped out of the cab in the middle of the street, ran through the cars, got onto the sidewalk, and started sprinting as fast as we could to the station.

I hope it resembled something like this.  ;)  haha
Matt Damon = us.  Motorcycle = the taxi.

We never stopped running, even when we got to the station, and somehow Fahad and Jean were able to read that our train would be departing from Track 1.

We ran all the way up and down the stairs--seriously. so many stairs!--to the Track 1 to find...

that the train would be leaving in 1 minute!

We made it!    Like champs.   With a whole minute to spare!
We were so high on adrenaline for the rest of that train ride!

We sat there in a nearly empty train, eating some pork buns Tonya had bought from China town,
bonding over the food and the epic race of the night.

I hope you had an amazing weekend as well!
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Faculty Concert Take Two

Hello everyone!

On Friday night we witnessed the 2nd ever faculty concert of the Foulger International Festival! It was a concert of Schubert, Strauss, and Schoenberg, and yet again, I feel so incredibly blessed to have the chance to work with such amazing musicians.

It's been so great for me because both weeks, I have been able to see the teacher I have worked with during the week perform in these faculty concerts.  Last week it was Miranda Cuckson, and this week it was Nicholas Kitchen, who performed in two of the pieces (Strauss violin sonata, and Schoenberg Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night).  

Mr. Kitchen playing the Struass
I love getting to see my teachers performing because it's a great way to witness the things I am working on in lessons come to life.  This week, I have been working a lot on sound production and fiddling around with playing without a shoulder rest.  At the moment, it's really difficult for me because I have never played without it before, but I'm willing to try it out for awhile.  Perhaps I will decide that's how I want to play, perhaps I won't, but I think it will be beneficial either way since I can hear that the sound really changes when I play without it.  

Mr. Kitchen always plays without the shoulder rest, and oh man. his sound...  it's so captivating.  The first piece he played was the Strauss violin sonata with Mr. Levinson, and I have fallen head over heels in love.  The gorgeous 2nd movement, the exhilarating last movement... I just want to play it all!  It was an incredibly exciting performance, and the audience was more than appreciative.  3 rounds of bows and a standing ovation!

see what I mean?  haha

I also found it fascinating that he plays off of a computer!  I mean, we have been playing off of a computer during our sight reading sessions as mentioned here, but in a performance!?  It's really cool though because he has this foot pedal that scrolls up or down which makes page turning effortless.  He also said that usually when he performs, he puts the score on a projector so that the audience can follow along.  How cool is that??

And then they played the Schoenberg.  All through music history classes, I had never been a fan of Schoenberg.  It sounds just so. weird.  When I think of Schoenberg, the first piece that comes to mind is the Pierrot Lunaire, and I think many will agree with me in saying that the adjective 'beautiful' is the exact opposite of what we think of during most of that piece.  But this piece, Verklarte Nacht?  So. Incredibly. Beautiful.   And they really captured the characters and the emotions of the piece.

What an emotional roller coaster of a night.  It's really amazing what great music can do to one's emotions in such a short amount of time.  I am usually not the most emotional of people, and my friends at the concert and also Abro (because I called her during intermission. My heart was just so full of.. everything after the Strauss, and I had to inform her that was the next sonata we will be working on together haha) can attest to how dazed I was by the end of the concert--I don't take emotional roller coasters very well apparently haha.  

I cannot wait for the next two faculty concerts!  yay!

Mr. Kitchen and I

Thanks for reading!