White Tiger

Winter into Spring in New England (that WHITE TIGER year, 2010)

The times in between A Far Cry's concert cycles, playing my violin still ends up being my number one activity. Though I don't yet have any serious students that I teach (although hoping one day I will), I go on concentrating on getting better at my craft and trying to perform as many great pieces of music as I can...A lot has gone on during our winter retreat in the gorgeous Green Mountains of Vermont, and like any other organization, with these kinds of opportunities, we make adjustments, come up with new ideas and reinvigorate ourselves with a renewed mission. And one of those new ideas (Implemented by our fabulous AD, Kelly Reed) was to start off our times during each occasion we come together since this retreat to bless our souls with beautiful and meditative words from such eloquent poets, as the illustrious New Englander, Stanley Kunitz. Here's one we started our morning's meeting (first one since Vermont, as we try to have them regularly, 2/month with all the Criers) with today.

First Love

At his incipient sun The ice of twenty winters broke, Crackling, in her eyes.

Her mirroring, still mind, That held the world (made double) calm, Went fluid, and it ran.

There was a stir of music, Mixed with flowers, in her blood; A swift impulsive balm

From obscure roots; Gold bees of clinging light Swarmed in her brow.

Her throat is full of songs, She hums, she is sensible of wings Growing on her heart.

She is a tree in spring Trembling with the hope of leaves, Of which the leaves are tongues.

Music is a funny energy. It comprises of the most fundamental elements of communication and has the ability to give words, their hues of color. Then rhythm adds its essence by dancing around the corners of the words where their syllabic gestures break into waves and are simultaneously controlled by the articulation of one's daft. But the most amazing part about it, aside from its sweet melodies, breaking beats, and the rock star charisma, is that its energy is perhaps one of the most honest mirrors to one's soul.

It feels great to be practicing and performing those tried & true works of art. It's like getting 20 hours sitting in front of the REAL Gustav Klimt's the Kiss, feeling the canvas, smelling the aged paint, watching and observing the golden shadows of its rays. Another Gustav, who was a giant in his own right during Klimt's time, was a composer and conductor of no equal. Mahler's 9th Symphony is some intense concentration of this historical figure's absolute, enduring genius. Playing this piece tonight with my colleagues in the Boston Philharmonic, I would have chills down my spine and goose pimples pulsating above my blood stream. The evidence of its greatness is witnessed in those moments during our mere mortal, imperfect attempts to craft it, and it still sends a warm message to one's spirit. It is ALL about life which encompasses both lightness and dark, profiles and shadows, aural colors of all the differently made sounds arranged into the likes of a story as grand as Tolkien's Return of the King. Ben Zander is a man who Loves & Adores the creations of Gustav Mahler. There is no doubt that he feels him like a kin and speaks his tongue. I don't care what anyone says, Ben knows Gustav personally. As if in his dreams, he goes back to that continual chess game with the ghost of Mahler, the kind that 2 old friends make one move every winter into spring when they come back to that same table in a cottage up in the Alps, and Ben asks a question about Gustav's markings while he ponders where to move his pawn, "What did you REALLY mean when you put those dots only in the 2nd beat and not any other beat in those measures in the 1st violins...You know, that little ditty in the 2nd movement..Obviously the whole measure should be played short, right??!!" 3 Performances of Mahler's 9th Symphony coming next week with the Boston Philharmonic on Thursday, February 25th (Sanders Theater), Saturday, the 27th (Jordan Hall) & Sunday the 28th (back in Sanders Theater).

Next on my plate right after the BPO cycle comes a concert titled "Strings Attached" with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project on the 6th of March at Jordan Hall. The concert features the esteemed violist and NEC professor (And Crier, Sarah Darling's teacher), Kim Kashkashian as soloist, performing Betty Olivero’s captivating “Neharot, Neharot". But also on this program is Béla Bartók's Divertimento for Strings, one of my favorite pieces of music written for string orchestra, and one of the first pieces A Far Cry had played in concert our very first year and performed it a bunch of times on our west coast tour back in 2008. Should be a fun program to play and listen to.

The following weekend after that (March 13-14th), I put on my hat as the violinist of the Radius Ensemble, and get to twice perform Johannes Brahms's 2nd Piano Quartet in A Major, op. 26 for the first time. I am forever in love with this piece and I don't want to disclose my level of elation getting a chance to perform it with friends (might end up jinxing my seriousness about the music..ahem). Brahms wrote 3 Piano Quartets, and all 3 are masterworks in the western chamber music literature, but I will go out on a limb and be dumb about it...the 2nd one is the best!!! Woo hoo!! Francis Poulenc's Sonata for Clarinet and Bassoon, plus Eric Ewazen's Roaring Fork for Wind Quintet make up the first half of the program. Come check it out these performances in Cambridge or Weston if you can!

So after these next few weeks of music making with other groups and different repertoire, I start rehearsing again for the next cycle, "Poet" with A Far Cry in the middle of March. I'm always amazed and humbled that there's so much music out there to play being a violinist and know that I won't even get to half of it in my lifetime. However like most things in life, it's not about the quantity, but the quality. Cliché perhaps, but truth is the truth.

”What counts is not the years in your life but the life in your years.” -Adlai E. Stevenson (1900-1965)