Thursday, February 19, 2009

 

Lesson reports


Lesson #66 was simply frustrating; 'nuff said.

I don't think I'll be writing any more routine lesson reports unless there's something more useful to say.


All that is overshadowed by the sad news that our faithful dog, Maggie, is dwindling rapidly. We learned that her kidneys have almost completely failed and there's little hope for her. We discussed options with her vet that might prolong her life, but the odds at this stage aren't very good. She's not the kind of dog that would tolerate extensive medical treatments; and we don't want for her to spend her final days with any added stresses that would make her even more miserable. She stopped eating a few days ago... except for snow. Whenever she goes outside she immediately begins eating snow. The vet says it means the kidney failure has caused ulcers in the lining of her esophagus and stomach and the snow is soothing.

It appears we're going to have to make an awful decision in the morning...

Comments:
Oh Guanaco, I'm so sorry. Not about the lessons - who cares about the cello at a time like this? Have a good hug fest tonight. I'll be with you in spirit tomorrow.
 
I'm very sorry to hear the news about Maggie. That's such a delightful photograph of her!
 
Thanks GTGP and Jeff for your kind words. My son took that wonderful picture a few years ago.

She went peacefully this morning. Even though it was the right thing to do, it was hard nonetheless.
 
It's always sad to lose a member of one's family. Sorry to hear of your loss.
 
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Friday, February 13, 2009

 

Rosenthal does it all...


Paul Rosenthal once again brought his violin and the Sitka Summer Music Festival's Winter Concert series to town last night. Joining him were cellist Armen Ksajikian and pianist Arnulf Von Arnim. Arnulf and Armen have played here with the festival before, but not together. I was sure pleased to hear them again. Paul and Arnulf started off with Paul's composition "Bravura Variations on 'Alaska's Flag'" which he premiered 25 years ago in honor of our state's then 25th anniversary. This was followed by one of Mendelssohn's "Song Without Words: 'Sweet Remembrance'". Armen then joined them to present Beethoven's "Piano Trio in E-flat Major". The concert concluded with the intense "Piano Trio in G minor" by Bedrich Smetana. For an encore they were persuaded to play another short piece by Mendelssohn.

I really liked the intimate informal setting; and their relaxed banter with one another and even with the small-but-appreciative audience. What better way to celebrate the 200th birthday anniversary of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin* than to listen to this group celebrate the 200th anniversary of this particular Piano Trio by Beethoven?

I got a chance to talk with Armen for a few moments after the concert. Around his neck he wears a wooden carving with his initials, "AK", on a chain. He said it was given to him by the maker of his cello - it's from the same piece of wood; it can be also be used as a mute. I mentioned to Armen that I was a late-starting student of the cello, and that my trio partners had also been present. He said he doesn't get to meet very many cellists in the smaller towns on this tour, but was glad to hear there was even a trio here. He mentioned that we should arrange with the Festival people for him to sit in with us for a session next time he comes to town!! How cool would that be?




* I looked around on the internet - unsuccessfully - for some type of analysis comparing the impacts of these two giants of history who happened to share a birthday.

Comments:
Armen is a gem! He's a friend of mine (I'm an L.A. based cellist) and he's always got time for a joke or a hug.

And he's a *fantastic* musician - you should hear his Rachmaninoff sonata -- Oh...My...God!!

:-)
 
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

 

Too funny...


Yo-Yo Shreds at the Inauguration with Perlman et al. (Thanks to Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise.)


Comments:
Hee hee! Sounds like a video shoot, where we have to mime against a pre-recorded string section.


And re Armen K. on the next post, he is an awesome guy. He is always first call on all of the big studio dates, either principal or asst principal of LA Chamber, and generally is a gigging machine, and yet on his bio it says something like "Armen is one of the better cellists in eastern Eagle Rock", which is an area of, oh, about 3 city blocks. Every time I have a gig, I cross my fingers that I'll get to play with him.
 
Hilarious!
 
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Sunday, February 08, 2009

 

Winter blahs


The days are cold (ranging from 0 to -15) and clear (lately), but they are gradually getting longer. After a flurry of warnings we've gotten used to the constant Orange alert regarding Redoubt Volcano (see my masthead). It's still rumbling under there somewhere, but nothing has changed in two weeks. We bought a pack of dust masks and refreshed some of our food stockpiles, but other than that, there's not much we can do about it, but wait and see.

At last Thursday's lesson (#65), I started working on the third octave of the D Major scale, increasing my "fingerboard" range by two more notes, C# and D on the A-string. After getting used to this, I'll start the second octave of the G major scale on the D-string (F# and G), and so on with the other strings. We played through the Beethoven Minuet and the Breval Sonata. I'm still making slow, steady progress... I guess. Much of our discussion on these two pieces was about bow usage - planning when to be at the tip (or frog) in anticipation of full bow segments, etc.

In my practice work, I'm gradually progressing through the Percy Such "Position Etudes"; and today I realized that I've actually made some progress in Mooney "Double-Stops" as well. I'd almost given up on these, but as I explained to my teacher, I decided to lower my expectations (time-wise) and just keep plugging away. Vibrato and trill exercises are also progressing.

Chopping wood and carrying water.


On another note, I finished ripping 362 CDs to my iPod - in just three weeks [97 of these were cello-CDs]. It had taken me almost a year to convert 362 LPs. That totals 724 "albums" on my iPod - over 9,500 songs.


Our Cellocracy trio has been invited to play a short concert at a local elementary school at the end of the month as part of a segment on sound and vibrations. We're supposed to play for 15 minutes or so then answer questions and repeat the show for a second group in order to accomodate the whole school. It's challenging to find age-appropriate music from our limited repertoire.

Comments:
I couldn't understand most of this blog due to knowing next to nothing about music yet I enjoyed it immensely.
 
Many thanks for the link to that post. It means more to me personally than it does professionally. :)
 
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