Saturday, June 26, 2010

 

YPSO


Last night the Central Peninsula Community Orchestra was invited to share the bill with the Young People's Symphony Orchestra. The YPSO, based in Berkeley, California, includes 105 musicians aged 13 to 22. I counted 16 cellists! Their presentation of two pieces by Dvorak and part of the Firebird Suite by Stravinsky was remarkable in its quality and professionalism. I sure am glad they included our community in their three-concert tour of Alaska. And it was free!  Too bad more people didn't know about it; our local paper doesn't seem to care much about this sort of thing - they're too busy writing the about which tourist caught the biggest salmon on the river this week to pay attention to something like this.

For our fifteen minutes of fame, we played four pieces including a Mozart medley and one of the Brandenburg concertos. We've come a long way in the last year. I missed a few notes here and there, but all-in-all I was really pleased with my part of the concert. 


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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

 

Bach for bears


Check out Armen Ksajikian playing his cello for a bunch of brown bears! Armen is a frequent visitor to Alaska, frequently playing with the Sitka Summer Music Festival [too bad Sitka is so far away]. We've been fortunate that he has also come to Soldotna several times, most recently last fall.

Many years ago Sitka resident Les Kinnear converted a giant former pulp mill clarifier (essentially a 3/4 acre open-top water tank) into a unique habitat for rescued bears, called the "Fortress of the Bear" sanctuary. During this year's festival, Armen hauled his cello out onto the viewing platform and presented a concert for the bears. The photos and story immediately hit the wires. For more details, go here.

Who else but Armen would think to entertain the bears?

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I think it's because Armen IS a bear. :)


PS: word verification is spershe. I think that's what I say when I sneeze.
 
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Saturday, June 12, 2010

 

It's cold


Nearly halfway through June and we've not seen one day above 60F since that brief period in mid-May when the temps actually broke 70F for a few days. Our ten-day forecast promises more clouds, showers, and more highs in the 50s. Right through the solstice! This is global warming?

I'm supposed to paint the house this summer. The first step is to power-wash several years of road dust and residual volcanic ash off of the siding and the deck. My 1996 power-washer still works great, but the rotary "super" nozzle tip is broken, and no parts are available. So I looked for a new wand. Unfortunately, sometime over the past 14 years all of the manufacturers changed the way they attach power-washer wands, so nothing fits my old system. I finally located a replacement nozzle on the internet - for $90(!!) plus at least $30 shipping to Alaska. I could buy a completely new power-washer for $175! Here's to planned obsolescence! I guess I'll first try power-washing everything with the original low-power nozzle.

I did get the scaffolding put up and I've calculated all the square-footage for siding, trim and deck paints. I guess I'll start washing this week, rain or shine.

Without the motivation of lessons since the end of April, I've slacked off a bit on practicing, skipping a day or so each week, and I usually quit after an hour to an hour and a half. But I am making progress. A few weeks ago, I began working on the last part of the Vivaldi piece (the second Allegro) in Suzuki 5 and I'm already making those higher position shifts fairly well - at slow tempos. My daily scales work seems to be helping me reach those higher positions on each string with reasonable accuracy. I'm also still working on speeding up the first two sections.

Meanwhile, I'm also plugging away at four or five etudes in my Percy Such book. After weeks and weeks of no apparent progress, I finally "broke through" on a couple of them this week. Weird how that works.

Our orchestra is playing a concert at the end of the month in conjunction with the "California Young People's Symphony Orchestra". We've worked pretty hard all year on the four pieces, and we sound pretty good.

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And we couldn't get below 100! Finally cooler here the last couple of days.
 
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