Posts Tagged dvorak

Home stretch

Revelations come in such an unexpected place, in front of the people you think it shouldn’t happen with…

We started our last day visiting a public grade school that was named after Grandma Cora’s father. Children, the first time for many, saw us with our instruments and rushed into the courtyard where we set up to play for them! They came out to see what we’d play (as well as Karen’s hair) with so much excitement… it was hard to take a smile of my face the whole time we were there. It’s easy to get caught up in our practice, rehearsals, and indulge in our own issues as musicians sometimes; made me pretty joyful to see these kids wanting so much to talk to us and ask us questions. It’s good to be grateful for what opportunities we have had to travel, to make music, to be life-long learners.

We left the school in a sea of little students clamoring for questions, pictures, and autographs on their notebooks, but alas, we had to leave. So what’s this revelation? Well, as we were playing for this easy-going crowd, there’d be talking, there’d be laughing. But more than any other time, I think I had the most fun playing movements of the Dvorak and Schubert! Being outside, we had to perk up our ears to each other, but boy, I wanted to entertain and show the kids and teachers watching us the fun, the emotion, the dialogue involved in our music making!

Because I had been so at ease… (here comes my technical viola playing commentary on myself) in an instance, my wrist loosened, the weight of my arm fell beautifully on the strings, fingers moving in ways I could only talk about for the last two years in my lessons. Whoa. What happened? Little spiccato notes just flying with rhythmic integrity and sonorous tonality? (Yes, Dvorak, fourth movement, with the second violin…) What-wait a minute… It’s working now that I’m playing for this group, huh? It was a good realization of the origin/cause/factors of why I do what I do, and why I don’t do other things (physiologically speaking). Well, here’s to a good rest of the summer practicing! (Viola technique geek-out concluded. You may return your attention.)

With the morning gone, we enjoyed our last lunch with Grandma Cora, grandpa, Gloria and her son, Eduardo. I’ll miss my own room with the afternoons of practice, Facebooking, endless blogging, and bug-bite paranoia. (Photo with Jeff and OJ: he never failed to finish the pitcher of fresh-squeezed juice. We counted on it. Just look at his face.)

The rest of the afternoon, the quartet met with the television cameraman to re-record the Dvorak part of the weekend’s concert. They failed to capture it somehow, so we did a one take performance for him. Yikes. It was difficult, mainly to get yourself in the moment (despite the trip almost ending, a tiring day of playing already, and packing to get done back at home). Reminded me of our quartet recording for an album of Elizabeth Rickman. Of course, we were all students in the room and just words of wisdom and advice from our prof, Mike,… was the need to give it that fresh ‘first-time’ energy, but on EVERY take. It’s not easy. But the audience or listener won’t have the asterisk on their program or album saying ‘they were tired’, nor will they necessarily see you. They’ll be listening though, and you had better play like it were your first. Something should go here about being emotionally prepared too, otherwise you have to act it out. I think it does take that sometimes. Just do it, you know?

The night finished with Ingrid helping a teacher do a Suzuki method class for a big group of young students and their parents… we left, again, with many photo ops, exchanges, goodbyes, hugs, you know.

Once we got home, our final duties were set before us in the for of five hundred-some certificates to be signed by the four of us! Fun… hone in those glitzy A’s and K’s… those curly E’s and Z’s… ok that’s enough.

Are these posts really just… LONG? I’m not sure what one is to do. It’s like how Karen packs for the road, really. Get what you need, then cut it in half. I suppose I could still cut it. Let me know 🙂

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A week later

Sunday, our sixth day on this Brazil trip, we gave another concert at the same church as the previous night. I think it was packed even tighter tonight, and the television people brought their camera this time!

I think we did superbly on this particular evening. Everything went pretty smoothly, especially having the camera there, as well as teachers and students that we had met in the last few days. We didn’t quite have our usual dinner as we left for this concert, but there was some nice things in store for us!

This is what I had been waiting for all week… a Brazilian-style pizzeria! The place was Hippo Pizza, and I don’t remember what we ordered, but it was a mix of cheese, chicken, artichoke, ham,… whole mess of stuff you normally wouldn’t find in the states. Dee-lish.

The important thing is, we had dessert pizza. It was between chocolate pizza and and a hot, banana-cinammon and mozarella pizza. The banana pizza is just… incomparable (see photo above)!

Following dinner, we were told by some of the locals (and Ingrid) that pizzerias in Brazil aren’t just… well… pizzas like they are at home. It’s definitely a gourmet setting, for occasions, a tad dressy even. Think California PIzza Kitchen but a titch nicer still. There ya go.

They also say there are three important things during any meal at a place like this. The pizza. The futebol match. The beer. Gourmet pizza and a cold Chopp definitely goes down well.

The next day was somewhat… not normal. Not bad, just unexpected. I think we were asked to go play at a corporate event. 50th anniversary of the area’s first diary-product factory, or something. Company name: Calu. I think I saw a slogan like “Calu, for you!” Anyway, when your day starts out by seeing a motorcyclist with an exhaust pipe for who-knows-what and everyone in the car has to take a picture, then something’s up.

The event turned out to be quite alright with some fantastic dessert afterwards. We also got door prizes, you know, mugs and pencil sets. Great swag. We played the whole Dvorak in a warehouse-turned-party-room with fans fluttering and people muttering quite a bit, but they loved it at the end! It’s these little things that make performing it fun. The little mixer afterwards was fun, but awkward at times. (See photo below of bewildered Karen. I give it five stars.)

We finished the evening by going to one of the state universities to pick up an instrument. Walking into the recital hall, we heard a chamber orchestra playing Vivaldi, and couldn’t help but creep in! We peeked into the hall only find a nice welcome from some of the new friends we had made and a teacher who let us borrow a violin in the days prior.

I found it rather fun listening to another group perform after quite a while. Of the players, we saw Raphael and Isaac, a couple cellists we had seen at an earlier master class and evening performance, we met a few more violinist and violists who had mentioned they’d play for us the next day. People have been wonderfully welcoming and warm to us, perhaps our playing? Where we’re from? Anyway, they’re great.

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Big full day for us

Saturday was chock-full of events for us. We started our morning right with a nice breakfast and promptly headed to rehearse for the day’s performances. After lunch we went to another part of Uberlandia and visited a small local community center that held music classes for some of the kids.

We played a couple movements from the Dvorak for them and by the end of it, they were clapping and beaming with smiles! The only thing proving difficult was that this room was just concrete walls. Playing in a bathroom-sounding place is nice. But not with trying to listen to three other players and keeping it all good and stuff.

Then we switched. Four of the students got to play some Vivaldi for us as a quartet. Then we got a chance to give them advice and critique some of the playing. I got to see how excited it had made them to learn from us and apply it to their playing right away! Wow.

Out first performance followed in the evening with a pretty impressive crowd! The advertisement in the newspaper, on television, and of course the conservatory and music organizations associated with Grandma Cora had put up posters seemingly everywhere!

The church sounded wonderful, and it was small and intimate enough for the audience to appreciate, hopefully. Boy, I wish I could’ve heard it from out there and see what it was like.

Afterward the concert, we were greeted wonderfully by some of the audience members, teachers, string players, and students alike… then one of our new friends, Eduardo, took us out to a local hang-out spot. His mother, Gloria, is one of the assistants to Grandma Cora and also helps to manage a lot of administrative things with the music program here. (Which inadvertantly means driving us everywhere, picking things up, getting other things all week for us! Muito Obrigado!)

Much fun being had. Thanks for reading! Friends… feel free to COMMENT! I’m not desperate.

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We’re doing what?!

Ah, Brazil. Where the people are spicier than most of their food. We were met by a nice warm and muggy breeze Wednesday afternoon as we touched down in our final destination, Uberlandia, Brazil. First, let me introduce you (we’re all APUers) to the quartet:

Violin I – Ingrid

A junior at APU, she hails from Porto Alegre, Brazil. When bored, Ingrid enjoys smuggling knitting needles through airport security, and has been known to practice her Mandarin on unsuspecting Asians. Hmm… She wishes to pursue a life of religious fulfillment and practicing.

Violin II – Jeff

Aspiring composer and pyromaniac, Jeff, from Reedley, CA, enters his senior year. He enjoys making YouTube videos that feature a retarded overdubbing of Gandalf and Bilbo, and once in a while, picks up the fiddle between readings of L’Engle and Lewis to grace his quartet with fresh beats, sometimes fresh beets.

Cello – Karen

Usually mistaken for a good Swede, she is also a senior, majoring in cello performance. She continues her summer tour with a small group as Keyboard II, Tambourine, and also Cello. Watch out for her deadly dance moves and improvisatory skills on el guitar-o.

And of course, yours truly on Viola. So we’re here thanks to Ingrid’s connections. Since she’s from Brazil, her grandmother was extraordinary and paramount to us coming here. Through the music association of the state that she leads, they were able to pay our trip here have us do performances, classes, and recitals. Beyond that, she has graciously opened her home for our duration here and have prepared for us fantastic meals since the beginning!

We arrived at the house just in time to find out that we… well… had a television interview the next day, a newspaper and photographer the morning after that, and on Saturday, our first event: visiting a school and playing for them, then a full program recital in the evening. Whoa. Ok… Hair. Check. Teeth. Check. Nice Shirt. Check…and… oh right. The viola. Check.

With the change in humidity and climate down here, we need to be careful for our instruments. We already have a unfortunate fingerboard come detached, and we’re working on finding a decent cello to use in performance.

Our rep will include:

  • Dvorak Quartet in F, op. 96 “American”
  • Schubert Quartet in d minor, “Death and the Maiden”
  • We brought some Mozart and Beethoven quartets as well
  • If we can find a djembe player, then a contemporary quintet: “Strange Humors” by John Mackey

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