making music is the way my soul sings...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Crazy Month of May!

This has been such a crazy month! I honestly don't remember the last time I've been so busy!
I feel so blessed to have had so many amazing opportunities lately, so I thought I would take a moment to share them with you.
At the end of April I was asked to lead the second violin section of the Dallas Chamber Symphony in their season finale.  The concert which took place in the new City Performance Hall included Beethoven's Coriolan Overture, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Brahms Symphony No. 4.  It was a wonderful concert and I got to perform with a few friends I hadn't seen in years as well as a bunch of new friends!

Later that week I played with the Dallas Symphony 2nd violin section for a very amusing family concert featuring Barbie!! We played a bunch of selections from Barbie's movies that actually feature many classical pieces such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Dvorak's New World Symphony, all while video played on a giant screen overhead.  The kids really enjoyed it!

Right after that concert I had to quickly head back to Houston to perform with Mercury Baroque! Correction, they now call themselves just Mercury as they have been expanding their repertoire to the classical period. Like for this concert - we performed Beethoven's Symphony No. 4 AND Beethoven's Symphony No. 5!! It was a lot of fun to play on gut strings again and to work with all of the members of Mercury! We performed two concerts, one on the HBU campus in Clear Lake, and the other in downtown Houston in the Wortham Center. They were a huge success!
The day after our second performance I drove back to Dallas to perform at the Ritz Carlton downtown for an international wine club.  The club had decided to feature some of Robert Rodriguez's music so he asked me and 3 other wonderful musicians to perform a couple of his pieces. I played for two of the pieces, "Semi-Suite" and "Tango di Tango". "Semi-Suite" was a 5 movement work featuring the violin accompanied by piano, clarinet and percussion. "Tango di Tango" was a one movement Tango for piano, violin and accordion. They were both a lot of fun and the club loved our performance!
The following weekend I had a very exciting performance! I was asked to solo with my former youth orchestra, the New Conservatory of Dallas, and I got to perform John William's version of Carlos Gardel's Tango "Por Una Cabeza"!  My youth orchestra is only strings so Bruce Patti made a wonderful string arrangement of the piece which was the grand finale of the Spring Overture Concert.  The concert was GREAT and I had so much fun! It was a real treat to play with NCD :) The performance is on YouTube - you can check it out here

The next week I played with the Dallas Symphony in the 2nd violin section for their performances of Carmina Burana! I absolutely love that piece, if you haven't heard if you should definitely check it out! It was a really busy week - we had 5 rehearsals and 4 performances. The last 2 performances were both on Saturday! Jaap van Sweden was conducting this concert - it was such an amazing experience, he is so incredibly inspiring! It's always really exciting to perform with the Dallas Symphony Choir and Children's Choir - they are so great!

In between the two concerts on Saturday, my mom and I went to the mall and I found my dress for my performance of Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 next week! It's black with roses and I think it's just stunning for the piece.
On Sunday, my mom had her student recital at the Pfamily Arts Center in Plano. She likes for me to perform something short at the end, so Kyle Orth and I played the Gardel Tango that John William's arranged for violin and piano. Kyle is one of my good friends and a truly incredible pianist! I'm always so happy to play with him :) Check out his website here!
Well, that about wraps up this month! I'd better get some rest for my photo shoot tomorrow, and then I need to get all of my students ready for their recital on Saturday before I drive to Missouri for some Shostakovich!! :D
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'm still here!

Hey guys! I promise I haven't fallen off of the face of the earth - I just got extremely busy with school and auditions and such.  But soon I'll have some time because Rice's spring semester ends this Friday!  I'm excited for a lot of violin related projects I have planned for this summer.  I think it's going to be a great one!  At some point I'll have to update you on my concerts in Knoxville, but for now I'm going to leave you with a picture of this awesome dress I bought for my future performance of the Shostakovich concerto - fitting, don't you think? :D

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New York City with the Astoria Symphony!

Hey everyone!

I’ve just finished my concert in New York City and on my way back to Houston.  I was the soloist for my dad’s (Kirk Trevor’s) conducting workshop for the International Conducting Institute, and at the end of the week, I performed the Beethoven concerto with the Astoria Symphony.  It was a really wonderful experience!  I got to NYC Tuesday night and was happy to make it to the Holiday Inn that I had a reservation at since the taxi driver seemed to have no clue where it was.  My dad had told me this would be a problem so I made sure to give him lots of information.  I wasn’t needed for rehearsal until 4 pm the next day so I had plenty of time to get settled and practice.  The hotel was really nice and very quiet!  No problems for practicing. 

I met with the 12 conductors at 4:00 and we went over the Beethoven concerto one movement at a time.  They sang the orchestra part and we stopped various times so they could discuss technique for different things I did with the piece.  That was a workout in itself, but then at 6 pm, a few of the Astoria Symphony musicians came and we had a 4 hour rehearsal!  From 6-10 the conductors took turns conducting sections of the Beethoven concerto and Brahms Symphony No. 2 with a quintet of strings and a quintet of winds.  Things were a bit rocky at times but my dad helped them through it.  The real problem started about 7 pm when I suddenly was overcome by a wave of tiredness and felt like I could barely play anymore.  I took lots of breaks while they worked on Brahms and I managed to get through the rest of the conductors until they were done with me at 9:30.  I think the traveling and the New York weather really took it out of me.

On Thursday I was free again for most of the day until about 6 pm.  At 5:00 we took the metro to a church in Manhattan where we had a rehearsal with the full orchestra.  It was cramped but we managed!  There was another rehearsal from 6-10, but it was much more enjoyable playing with the full orchestra, and the conductors knew their parts better this time.  At 8:00 we had a break and Dominos pizza – yum!  It was hard having pizza without Coke though which I gave up for Lent last week.  Only thirty-something more days!  We worked mostly on the 3rd movement of the concerto during this session and I really got a thrill out of playing it with the orchestra.  The last 59 seconds of that piece has to be one of the most amazing things ever written.

That night was the last conducting session for the conducting students (the workshop had started a few days before I got there) so we all went out to a Cuban restaurant after to celebrate! My dad and I got these amazing strawberry-pineapple lemonades and shared chocolate empanadas.  It started to get really late and everyone was busy talking so I pulled out my computer and finished the rest of my homework that I sent to my teacher when we got back to the hotel.  Homework is the last thing I want to be worrying about when I’m performing!! 

Friday was a free day for me, everyone went to this great Greek restaurant for a farewell lunch and then I came back to the hotel to practice and iron my dress.  It took FOREVER!  The dress is 100% silk so I had to keep the iron on a really low setting and the wrinkles were just so stubborn!  After working on it for about an hour I finally stuck it in the bathroom with the shower on high heat.  I steamed it in there for about 45 minutes and then ironed it again – the wrinkles came out great.  At 9:30 my dad and I took a taxi to Manhattan where we had reservations at Serendipity 3.  My best friend finished her masters at NYU last year and told me this was a place I absolutely had to try while I was in New York.  It was such a cute restaurant!  Very much like an old-fashioned tea house but with a swanky upbeat feel to it.  My dad and I shared a cheeseburger and seafood fettuccini and then for dessert we got their famous Frozzzzen Hot Chocolate and the Coward’s Portion of their huge Banana Split.  The coward’s portion was still $13!! And it was ginormous!!! So good though.. I was really happy we went.  We had a lot of fun and my dad got me a t-shirt as a souvenir.

Saturday was the day of the concert but we didn’t have anything scheduled until 4:30 – or rather 4.  My dad’s schedule said 4:30 while the orchestra’s said 4.  Thankfully we were there before 4, but apparently the stage managers at the Frank Sinatra School had the same schedule as my dad and the stage was completely empty.  Everyone rushed around to find chairs and stands and we finally got started though a little bit late.  We rehearsed the Beethoven last but I started to get really worried around 5:30 because I was suddenly really tired again!  I always avoid caffeine the week before a performance to keep any extra performance jitters at bay, and at this point I really needed some.  After the rehearsal my dad and I stopped at Starbucks and I got some vanilla rooibos tea, which really seemed to help – whew!

At 8:15 I walked backstage to get ready to go on.  I was welcomed with warm applause from the audience and waited for the 5 timpani beats to start the piece.  The performance felt great.  I felt more and more secure as the piece went on – the first movement is always the hardest and I had two small slips that were annoying but didn’t throw me off.  The second and third movements went wonderfully though and I felt light and free in my cadenzas.  I received three curtain calls which was encouraging since the audience wasn’t actually that big, but they kept clapping!  I talked to some audience and orchestra members during intermission - the Astoria Symphony was so supportive it was really wonderful to play with them.  Then I went back to my room and changed before watching my dad conduct Brahms Symphony No. 2.  He’s really incredible onstage, I hope everyone that reads this has a chance to watch him at some point.

The conductors and some symphony members all went out to Uno’s Pizza for celebratory drinks and I finally had dinner.  I’m always amazed at how much more relaxed and open I feel after a performance is over – I had a great time talking with everyone.

So that was my trip! I’m headed back to Houston now where I have a lot of teaching and rehearsing to catch up on.  One of my best friend’s, Lexi, is going to be coming to stay with me in a few days when the Shepherd School Orchestra performs her piece!  I can’t wait to see her!  Just one week back in Houston and then I’m headed to Knoxville for another performance of Beethoven.  More from me then!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Our World is Ever Changing..

No, no, I didn't fall off of the face of the earth, I've just been really busy with Dallas Symphony rehearsals lately.  We played 9 youth concerts over the past week and a half!  The program was John Lanchbery's The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin from The Tales of Beatrix Potter and Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf.  Squirrel Nutkin was originally a ballet so we had members of the Black Dance Academy come to perform it.  It was well done and extremely amusing - they really got into character!  Peter and the Wolf was fun although I'm always surprised at how long the piece seems every time I play it - especially since Prokofiev is my favorite composer of all time.

In addition to the youth concerts last week, we also performed the music of Billy Joel with Mark Cavanaugh.  There were 3 concerts and they were pretty entertaining.  This week we're doing the film music of George Fenton.  He's written scores for over 75 films, I can't believe I didn't know his name before!  He wrote the music for EverAfter, Sweet Home Alabama, Hitch, Planet Earth, and You've Got Mail to name just a few.  They're going to have clips of the films playing on a giant screen overhead during the concert.  I'm really interested to see how it turns out!  Our first concert is tomorrow night.

Rehearsals have kind of taken over my life right now.  I've also been doing some teaching and seeing a few friends here and there, along with doing homework and my project for my Professional Development for Musicians class.  I really want to be practicing more, I get in a little over an hour before rehearsals in the mornings but then I'm pretty exhausted for the rest of the day.  I'll have a lot of time to catch up next week though since it's Spring Break - if rehearsing with my Trio and doing make-up lessons for all of my students doesn't kill me.

I wrote a short response paper for my class tonight and it focuses on a lot of things I've been thinking about recently so I'll just share it here (please excuse the brain-dead writing):

I found the readings for this week extremely thought provoking.  Riche’s article on Demographics and the Dynamics of Change contained a wealth of information and statistics about our nation’s expansion in race, ethnicity and aging.  Just over the past fifty years the percentage of ethnic minorities has increased from 12 to 34 percent and is continuing to grow.  Minority groups that once occupied only particular demographics have now spread throughout the country.  To top it all off, because of advances in technology and healthcare, the population as a whole is living much longer and the number of people within each age group is becoming relatively the same.
Ben Cameron’s Keynote Address at the Performing Arts Exchange in 2007 touched on a subject that I believe a lot of musicians don’t like to think about.  That being the fact that classical music audiences are decreasing because of cultural and technological changes within our society.  The lives of our population as a whole are becoming increasingly fast-paced and stressful, and the effects are seen in how people are using their “downtime”.  Multiple age groups are staying at home to rest instead of going out at night and a lot of this has to do with the technological changes I mentioned.  With the recent advances in computers and the Internet, people can access nearly every form of entertainment with a click of a button.  Instead of paying tens or hundreds of dollars for a ticket to a concert, they can download a specialized concert for themselves at a mere 99 cents a track.  It is ironic that while the Internet has opened doors for social networking never seen before, people are actually becoming less socially involved as they sit in front of their computer screens at home. 
With all of these ideas in mind, what is the chamber music scene to do?  Audiences for chamber concerts are smaller to begin with, usually because they are made up of the older “white” population and music students.  Observing changes in our society, one might think that chamber music will eventually fade from existence.  However, I do not think this will happen.  Despite the population’s ever growing desire for loud, fast-paced, mind-numbing entertainment, I believe that there is still a strong part in all of us that longs for a more intimate, and intellectually stimulating world that chamber music captures so well. 
There will need to be some changes to help generate audiences; music will need to be much more ethnically diverse, performance venues will need to be more accessible and the artists will need to be more engaging and approachable.  There are some ensembles devoted to these ideals already, such as the Turtle Island String Quartet and the Kronos String Quartet.  That isn’t to say that traditional Romantic and Classical pieces can’t be performed in normal venues, but reaching out and engaging audiences is becoming more important now than ever.  The pages we read in Beyond Talent explain how to talk to audiences.  Even though many classical musicians think that their job is to play the music that the program notes describe, they don’t realize how much audiences enjoy feeling connected to the artist in a personal way.  Something people can’t get from on demand entertainment in their homes is personal interaction with the actual entertainment.  Engaging audiences in a personal manner creates an entirely different experience that people will return for over and over again. 
           If musicians can continue to take steps in these directions, no matter how our society evolves, classical music will always be right there alongside it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The semi-finals for the Shepherd School Concerto Competition were on Sunday afternoon.  I escaped the angst that usually accompanies the week of a competition by convincing myself I wasn't actually participating.  I was still in denial about it even as I put on my dress and make up and stood outside Stude Hall.  I really hate competitions.  I feel like I don't perform naturally and they stress me out beyond reason.  Lately I've been working really hard at adopting a new attitude towards competitions because I know they're going to be a part of the next 10 or so years of my life, and the way I've felt in competitions in the past, even when I've won, is something I don't want to continually experience.

There really is something to be said for positive thinking.  Negative thoughts plague me during competitions and over the past week I had to consciously replace each one with something positive.  I actually think it helped, I felt a lot calmer during the day which even helped my nerves on stage!  That's the other reason I hate competitions.. nerves.  I usually don't get nervous when I'm performing for an audience, but competitions are a different story.  I'm sure many other people feel the same way.

When I stepped on stage to perform the Beethoven Concerto in this competition though I felt really different.  I felt confident and ready and when it was over I was happy with how I played!  That's another rare occurrence for me during competitions.

I was so relieved to receive the email saying I was one of the 4 finalists that is going to perform on Saturday!  And then that's the funny thing about competitions - if you don't advance you will most likely be upset yet relieved that you don't have to perform again, and if you do advance you'll be excited but then stressed about the next round! That's how it is for me at least :)  I'm personally trying not to stress; I'm trying to think of it just as another performance and not a competition.  I'm really excited though! Performing the whole concerto in that hall for an audience will be wonderful.

This week is really interesting though.  I'm subbing with the Dallas Symphony which means that I drove home last night after an entire day of teaching so I could be back in time for rehearsal at the Meyerson this morning.  The schedule for this week coincidentally lists Saturday as a free day which was why I accepted the sub offer, thinking I would be able to get back to Houston for the finals if I actually happened to pass the semis.  Now I really am in the finals and will have to drive back to Houston on Friday night for my performance Saturday afternoon.  Not something I'm really looking forward to! But my mom is going to come with me to watch me perform and help drive, so I can relax a little.

We have youth concerts in the morning and another rehearsal in the afternoon so I suppose I should get to bed!  Maybe I'll dream of the Beethoven concerto! Haha - I love this piece.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

More Mozart, Please!

The Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra performed its all-Mozart program tonight!  We played the Overture to Cosi fan Tutti, the bassoon concerto in B-flat Major and the all too well known G Minor Symphony No. 40.

I tried to get all of my students to come but I didn't see any of them there.  For some reason, the Chamber Orchestra concerts at Shepherd are never well attended while the Symphony Orchestra concerts are so packed that at least a hundred people end up watching the performance on the big screen TV in the lobby!  I've talked with a lot of people trying to figure out why this is.. no one seems to have the answer.  I for one believe that most audience members are under the false impression that the Chamber Orchestra is a "lesser" orchestra compared to the Symphony.  Maybe because the concerts are often shorter, and the orchestra is over 50% smaller which kind of looks like they're the "extras" that didn't "make it" into Symphony.

This is all speculation of course, I don't really know why generating an audience for the Chamber Orchestra concerts is so difficult.  But tonight we had a really wonderful crowd!!  The whole bottom of the auditorium was almost packed!  (Is it because people just really like Mozart..?) Let me tell you, it certainly makes a difference when you're playing on stage and there's more than 100 or so audience members randomly scattered around the hall.

I was principal second for this concert and I was so proud of my section!  They really handled everything beautifully and I felt that we were extremely together and energized for the most part. Great job guys!  I thought it was funny that my section this semester was entirely made up of girls.  Last night during the Shepherd Symphony Orchestra concert (which was amazing by the way!!!) I began counting girls versus guys in the sections.  In the violins there were 21 girls vs. 7 guys, cellos 8 girls vs. 5 guys and in the violas 10 girls vs. 2 guys!!!! How did I never notice this before??  Mr. Goldsmith wasn't kidding when he said the ratio for female applicants versus male applicants for music schools is 4:1!!! (Has anyone else noticed this at their school?)

The concert went wonderfully though.  Cosi fan Tutti managed to pull itself together after some shaky rehearsals, Matthew McDonald was spectacular in the bassoon concerto, and the orchestra really came to life during the Symphony.  Of course, Larry is incredible with Mozart; he seems to feel it so much more intuitively than other conductors.  So all in all, this was a really fantastic Chamber Orchestra experience!

What are your opinions on Chamber Orchestras?  And for those who may not be musicians, why might you or might not choose to go to a chamber orchestra concert?  Maybe with your help I can come up with some ideas to boost attendance at the Shepherd School's Chamber Orchestra concerts!

Friday, February 11, 2011

After a very long day..

My whole performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto is officially on YouTube!  I don't know how many hoops I had to jump through to get the thing uploaded, but it's there!  Here's the cadenza from the first movement - the rest of the performance can be accessed from there:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's Going Public!

Well, it took me forever, but I finally got a movement of the Beethoven Concerto from my performance on Tuesday night uploaded to YouTube!  I only have the third movement, Rondo, right now, but I hope to have the rest soon. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chamber Music... or Cacophony?

Tonight three of my studio classmates and I went out for dinner and the conversation quickly took a turn towards chamber music.  I'm sure everyone has had their fair share of bad experiences with chamber music, but it never fails to amuse me when I hear stories of how rude people can be during rehearsals!

I have the utmost respect for professional chamber ensembles.  The fact that three or more people can spend hours together on a daily basis, and can be sincerely open to critiquing from the other members blows my mind away.  Whenever I'm in a quartet or trio rehearsal, I feel like I'm walking on eggshells so as to make sure I don't rub my fellow musicians the wrong way.  And I'm sure it's not all butterflies and daisies for the professional groups; one of my best friends is first violinist of the Aeolus Quartet and he's told me of the difficulties they (and every other quartet!) face during rehearsals. (And by the way, you should definitely check out their quartet - they are absolutely STUNNING!!!)

How do they do it??  I love playing chamber music, but feel that my full enjoyment is hindered by my constant worry that I'm doing something the other members don't like.  Maybe I'm just silly and paranoid..

What are your chamber music experiences?

Mind games?

I know I'm not the first person to find that the expectation of a lousy performance often brings about the opposite result.  I remember the first time that happened to me - I was in Riga, Latvia and had to perform Sarasate's Introduction and Tarantella with the flu.  I knew nothing good could come of the performance - I was exhausted and could barely even hear because of congestion.  But I remember playing on stage and being amazed at how well everything was going.  I was hitting notes that were usually "iffy" and didn't even feel the slightest bit nervous.

Our minds play ridiculous games with us as performers, I'm learning this more and more every day.  Tonight I had a performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in my studio's recital in Duncan Hall.  For the past few days my left hand has been feeling.. strange. "Twitchy", you might say.  Today it was horrible, I couldn't do anything without my hand shaking and my thumb involuntarily twitching every so often.  I thought, "there's no way I'm going to be able to get through this 40 minute concerto tonight."  But I knew I needed to do it, so I practiced a little in the afternoon, being careful not to overplay, and pulled myself together for the performance.

Even though I was worried about my hand, I wasn't nervous.  There was a sort of paradox going on with my thoughts.  I would think that worrying about my hand not feeling normal during a performance would make me more nervous.  Instead my focus shifted from "I have to give a perfect performance!" to, "my hand isn't feeling right, I can't expect a lot, so I'll just go out and do the best that I can."

The performance went wonderfully! It wasn't perfect, it never is, but I had no major problems and was really happy with how it all went.  During the first movement, I felt slightly like I was having to control the shaking of my hand.  It's really strange when a part of you is shaking and it's not from nervousness.  As the piece went on though, I felt more control over it and more at ease.  I still felt really shaky for about 20 minutes after I was finished, but now I'm typing and my hand feels almost normal.  It's certainly much better than it was over the past few days.

So what does that mean - it's all in my head?  I'm not sure.  Part of me hopes so (though that would be annoying), but most of me thinks it's some sort of small issue that's exacerbated by adrenaline preparing me for a performance.  My hand hasn't done that before though, so I need to go get it checked out in case there's a problem.  I can say for sure, I'm definitely taking a break from violin in the morning.

Who else has a story about strange physical phenomena before or during a performance?