Photobucket      Photobucket      Photobucket       Photobucket

Sunday, June 05, 2011

NOI, Day 3

Today was our first octet coaching, with NOI faculty member Kathleen Winkler. We loved her and she definitely helped us get going with a more clear idea of how to work on the piece. We worked on articulation and stroke for the most part, but she said one thing I particularly liked:

"Music is like Jell-O. You know when you take it out of a mold and put it on a plate, the bottom sticks to the plate and stays in place but the top wiggles and jiggles? Counting is good, and rhythm is important, but above that solid base you have to listen to each other and be open to some wiggling."

Meeting new people and making new friends is always fun. With new shared experiences come many conversations, and lots of laughs. Here's just one conversation:

Me: Do you ever get that feeling that you were really worried about something, but you can't remember what it is, and then you worry because you've forgotten something you were supposed to be worrying about?

Brooke: No, but sometimes I get a fleeting happy feeling and then I can't remember what I'm happy about... that's kind of the same!

Me: Oh, I suddenly feel like such a negative person.

As for the laughter, there's been lots of it, but you can't compete with a viola joke for a good laugh. How about two living viola jokes?

1) After playing the frenetic final movement of Ligeti's Romanian Concerto, the principal violist announced with a grin - only half serious of course - "I missed all of that!"

[Want to listen to the movement? It's cool.]

2) A double bassist from the National Symphony Orchestra told us, "My sister used to play viola, and now she's a teacher of the deaf. So that's like a viola joke right there."

NOI Goal #3: to improve my off-the-string bow stroke and use less wrist and hand and more forearm, and to get that chromatic passage in the Mendelssohn Octet in tune.


  1. We really enjoyed the Romanian Concerto video you embedded! Gregory described it as "first it sounded like piano and fiddle and then the big booms were like big rocking, rolling drums - huge drums! and then it was really really fast and..." then he went on about the big booms some more. He was quite intrigued and excited about it all.

  2. What a fun comment to read... thanks, Amber! I like Gregory's description. He's right, there's a prominent percussion part, including some big bass drum moments.

    After the trumpet introduction, all those winding, scratchy-sounding chromatic lines that get passed through the string sections are "ponticello," which means the string players play with their bows almost on top of the bridge instead of an inch or so away from it... it produces a sort of creepy effect!

    After that, the solo violin line enters and is really fun... definitely "really fast" like Gregory said, kind of bohemian/gypsy sounding.

  3. What is an "off the string bow stroke"?