Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Comic Relief for Paganini

Most people probably don't need comic relief from listening to Paganini compositions now and then however I know that our family would have appreciated this video a couple of years ago when Oldest Daughter was playing this concerto hours a day and into the night. Paganini's infamous works for violin are what I refer to as "hyper violin" and they are anything but soothing and relaxing. Though I enjoy listening to Oldest daughter play a Paganini caprice now and then--how fast those fingers move!-- I can say that this 'artist's' rendition of Paganini mirrored my inner emotions a couple of years ago as I listened to Oldest daughter play this over, and over, and over, and...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Auditions, the rest of the trip

And a grand trip it was! After Austin we spent 10 days in Houston, several before, and a few after Oldest Daughter's audition at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. We loved the Rice campus and the Shepherd School of music; the buildings and grounds are beautiful and all are situated on a well planned loop so it is easy to walk, bike, or shuttle bus to anyplace on campus.

Lovett Hall/Administration Building, Rice University

Rice's Shepherd School of music boasts a spacious, state of the art facility and a relatively small student body of about 300. While there we were able to observe some of the excellent musical activities that are taking place at the Shepherd School: a lovely faculty concert, an orchestra rehearsal, and a studio class in which students play for their teacher and each other.

Alice Pratt Building/Shepherd School of Music

Leaving behind warm weather and great friends in Houston, we next flew to Cleveland, Ohio and took a city bus, which was, thankfully, empty except for one other passenger, to Oberlin. We were quite a sight trying to manage all our luggage which was a bit excessive due to a number of books, a sleeping bag, and other miscellaneous things we had purchased to take back to Jordan. The bus driver remarked wryly to Oldest Daughter, "Don't you know that school is over in another three months." I told Oldest Daughter that she should have replied, "Oh, I'm just coming for four days."

Oberlin was such a contrast to Houston! The college and conservatory have only undergraduate students and they are located in a small town. The feel of the campus is old, beautiful, and a bit earthy in individual/hippie/liberal sort of way. The students we met were bright, articulate and involved.

Spending a lot of time in 'the Con' student lounge while Oldest Daughter practiced, I observed a lot of musical and creative energy. It became easy to pick out the voice majors--they were the ones who dressed particularly stunningly and/or sang scales as they walked down the hall.

The 'Con'~ Oberlin Conservatory

Immediately after her conservatory audition, Oldest Daughter auditioned for and was accepted into a summer chamber music festival begun by the head of the Con's string department. While not an acceptance to music school itself, it was an encouragement.

A spacious practice room with a view~ Oberlin Conservatory

Oldest Daughter was able to experience a variety of practice rooms, and while this may seem like a minor point of interest to some, to a performance major who spends four plus hours a day in one it is more than a passing consideration. Our unofficial practice room rating:

1. Shepherd School of Music (no question)
2. Oberlin Conservatory
3. and 4. We are in disagreement here. I say UT Austin is third and Eastman, easily fourth, but Oldest Daughter would put Eastman before UT Austin. Eastman is the only school where the practice rooms were, at times, all full.

Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York

Oldest Daughter loved the "feel" of Eastman. The urban location, the old building with wood trimmed everything, the beautiful concert halls, the student housing, and the impressive violin faculty, a few of them Russian, which felt familiar to her as her own training has been of Russian pedagogy.

While visiting Eastman we were privileged to stay with a long ago friend and her Eastman faculty husband. They graciously hosted us in their Perfect Accommodations condo located directly behind the school, generously sharing their home and lives with us while we were in Rochester.

Not sure if you can read the sign but Eastman seems to be getting a lot of mileage from a Kaplan/Newsweek quote naming them 'The Hottest Music School'. They obviously were not referring to Rochester's less than balmy winter weather.

A Post-Final-Audition-Celebratory Latte at Java's

I think Oldest Daughter looks very relieved and just a little tired in this post-final-audition photo. I wonder if I should mention that she has not take her violin from it's case for six days--though I believe it may be coming out tomorrow.

As we watched the presidential elections analysis ad naseum on television it occurred to us that having a CNN reporter shadow a music school candidate would make a great human interest story. A young cellist we met twice on the music school circuit was applying to eight schools; another violinist, to five, flying in and out of various locations each weekend. Her father asked me, "is your daughter falling behind in school? Mine is." Well, yes, but the fact that we homeschool and are 'flexible' means that we have until June before we have to acknowledge that we are behind and by then, hopefully we won't be. A teacher whose student was auditioning at one of the schools queried me at the financial aid session, "Is the tuition really that much??" Hopeful parents listening outside audition doors, keeping time with their children's music and parents sitting with their child inside a tiny practice rooms while their child practices before an audition. More stress then I like to experience on a daily basis. And though, while at UT Austin, I enjoyed a double bass solo more than I imagined I could ever enjoy a bass solo, I was daily thankful that my dear daughter had chosen the relatively small violin for her beloved instrument. Thanks for keeping it simple, dear ; ) What an adventure we have had!

Dead to Red 2008

Dashing Dudes '08

The Dashing Dudes '08 team hit the road today, running in the annual Dead Sea to Red Sea ultra, ultra marathon relay--250K. Oldest son ran the first 1 K leg; most members of the nine man team will run 1K legs, however one ambitious Dude will run double and one older Dude (Dear Husband) will run 1.5 K legs and run fewer times.

I spoke with younger son about an hour and a half into the race and he reported that they are in about the middle of the pack but hoping to overtake a couple of nearby teams at the hill. More race updates to come...Go Dashing Dudes!


The Dashing Dudes completed their Dead to Read Run earlier this morning, placing fifth of sixteen teams. This afternoon found many of the team luxuriating in the hotel hot tub, resting up for the the celebratory banquet at the Movenpick this evening. Congratulations, Dashing Dudes, on another great run!