To have us repeat the days of the week, my Italian prof was going around the table, asking us what we did on various days, during random periods of the day. As it happened, whatever time and day she posed to me, I answered "suono la mia viola" -- I am playing my viola. Sabato mattina? --si. Giovedi sera? --si. Lunedi pomeriggio? --si. Sempre.
Allora, what do I do with this all?Vignettes:
I have been playing viola since I was in fifth grade, but only started practicing in tenth.
Come summer, I play Bach and Mozart on the street with my friend Laura. We get strange looks and spare change, which we use to buy mango smoothies from the fruit-shake cart opposite the shade of the music library, in which alcove we've set up shop, clothespins gripping the pages of bach to the blue wire stands. We try to get through a Brandenburg concerto without one of the stands falling over, and without having to both drop out in the middle to readjust blowing pages. We tire of hard music and a vagrant audience, and play many Mozart duets, reading as we go. Now and then a cello suite, an appreciative passerby who will drop five clams into the green-velvet case we have open.
My quartet arrives to play a wedding. I have been very cautious about the preparations, so I discover with great chagrin that I have left my music in my dorm. I quietly scream for a few seconds, and then settle down. We do everything I know already -- Brandenburg three, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik -- with no mishaps; apparently i know them from memory. In the processional when I can't remember Handel's stately Gavotte, I read the cello line. Hurrah for bass clef.
I am majoring in music at Swarthmore (with a double in Computer Science for the time being -- I like it for its integration of language and math, and my mom likes it for its pragmatic aspect). I have taken Music 11 and 12, the first-year theory courses, and intend to continue. You must take five or so rep tests to pass. Much work left to do.
I sleep on the floor of the Lang Concert Hall, curled up like a cat in the sunshine. When the panels are open (the back wall is a huge window of glass, which can be obscured by opaque sliding panels) and it is afternoon, when our quartet has done rehearsing, I drag the cover from the Steinway into the center of the rays slanting into the hall and lie on it, trying to perform some version of photosynthesis.
I take lessons from Joseph de Pasquale, this 80-year old curmudgeon who, despite his temperment, teaches me lots of useful things. Right now I'm working on Sevcik études (WARNING: May induce deep sleep!), the Eccles g minor sonata, and the third cello suite. He says listen to Casals for the music. I will, and don't need to be told twice.
I am taking Basic Piano lessons with Marcantonio Barone! I had six or seven years when I was little, but somehow over the years all of that Yamaha training fell out of my head and fingers and now I'm happily plunking out cadential six-fours and one-seven chords (my two favorites so far) under the scathing and omniscient gaze of Tony. It's great fun. Bartók provides lovely atonalities with his Mikrokosmos, which everybody else here seems to hate, but I love it.
Yes, this is me. I have finally become the viola. Three hours a day of practice is my goal, but on top of that I play in about seven ensembles (though I've really stopped keeping track--that takes more work than it's worth, given the ongoing flux of myriad orchestra concerts in combination with gigs here and there). An incomplete list is below.
- the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra
- the Swarthmore College Orchestra
- the Midnight Quintett (and its concomitant quartet)
- the pit orchestra for Swarthmore College's Drama Board's production of Damn Yankees (actually finished today)
- Alyson Jones' chamber orchestra at Swarthmore College
- Orchestra 2001, the professional orchestra-in-residence here at Swat (when Jim Freeman lets me)
- Viola lessons with Joseph de Pasquale
- Basic piano lessons with Tony Barone
The Midnight Quintett!