Easter Greetings: Festivals, Practicing, and Chamber Music, oh my!

For those of you readers who didn’t see my facebook status update (or I didn’t tell personally), I was accepted on Thursday into the Round Rock International Conducting Workshop!  It’s kind of an interesting story how all of this panned out.

On Tuesday or Wednesday (I believe Tuesday), I received an early e-mail from my conducting teacher Wes Kenney with a forwarded message about this workshop.  Apparently there were two last minute cancellations, so they were reopening up the applications for two more (the workshop wanted exactly 12 particpants, which it stated well before these cancellations).  Luckily, since e-mail is synced to my phone, I got the link almost instantly.  The workshop will take place May 16-22 in Austin, Texas.  The timing couldn’t be any more perfect – I arrive into Texas on May 14th, have a graduation at Angelo State University (my alma mater) on the 15th, and a church gig early morning on the 16th.  So I decided to apply.  I sent an e-mail to the info address with links to my website and youtube page.  They seem to have liked my stuff (the Corigliano was mentioned specifically), and I was told I’d be hearing back in a few days.

Thursday, I got the official e-mail (along with one other individual), and a notice to respond quickly because there was quite a waiting list behind me if I chose not to go.  In a non-competitive way, it’s always a great feeling to know that somebody higher up in your field appreciated what you did enough to give you the opportunity to work with them.  So, as soon as I come up with tuition money, I’ll be gearing up for what should be a wonderful week with Peter Bay (Austin Symphony), Silas Nathaniel Huff (Astoria Symphony and Manhattan School of Music), and the Round Rock Symphony.  The repertoire for the program will include Corilianus Overture (Beethoven), Die Zauberflöte Overture (Mozart), and Dvorak New World Symphony (No. 9, published as No. 5, referred to by Dvořák as no. 8….strange?).

A quick tangent, the numbering of certain symphonies is such a bizarre and complicated situation that it’s irrelevant to give numbers.  This can be really frustrating, particularly for those symphonies without common nicknames.  All right, moving forwad.  One more tangent: I can’t decide if it’s worth copying and pasting certain letters to get the correct diacritic markings or not.  More on this later.

Today’s practicing goals: memorizing a Bach prelude and fugue that I’ve been working on for about three weeks, starting the Schumann a minor piano concerto cadenza (first movement), and do some metronome work with Waldstein.

As far as chamber music goes, I think I was only going to comment on how chamber music as an entity is certainly a comparatively weak area of repertoire knowledge for me.  One of the greatest things about being at Colorado State is the abundance of chamber music recitals that occur here.  My knowledge of the repertoire has grown immensely in just one short year.  For example, my love for Schubert has grown exponentially this year, after being exposed to his chamber music (whereas previously I was familiar with his symphonic writings and lieder primarily).  The Bb Major Trio for violin, cello, and piano?  Heaven.  I hear Brahms in a slightly different light after being exposed to new works.  And so on.  I think chamber music repertory is an absolute must for any budding conductor, or musician for that matter.  As a conductor, it’s extremely noteworthy to see now chamber musicians utilize nonverbal communication without a gesture based system.  This can certainly be transferred over into the conducting idiom, offering yet another tool in our arsenal of nonverbal communications alongside with gesture-based phrasing and articulation.  Plus, it offers such a great alternative window of perspective of a composer in a more intimate setting.

All right, Happy Easter, Passover, or whatever suits you, everyone.  I’m off to practice.

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