Bumming around

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I don’t know what to do tonight. I’m so bored. I gave my bow to Cameron the other day so he could take it to Tanaka for a rehair, so I can’t practice tonight. There’s not much point in hacking on any software that I actually want to hack on since my new job sort of restricts me from hacking on it. Carolyn is in New York still. Cameron is over at Hyejin’s watching My Fair Lady, and I just have no interest in that.

I’m sitting here listening to a CD of Tatjana Masurenko, playing Brahms E-flat major sonata and Enesco Concertpiece. She is such a great violist. It’s too bad that she is virtually unknown in this country.

I’ve been waiting for like a month to get my copy of Maya 6. I ordered it from JourneyEd over a month ago, and I’ve been hounding them about it almost as long. Every time I called (except last time), they just blew me off and gave me some bullshit reason for why I haven’t gotten the software yet. The last guy I talked to was very helpful, and he actually seemed shocked at how long it had taken. The thing is, JourneyEd doesn’t ship Maya directly. They take the order, then they call Alias and tell them to ship it. Every other person I talked to sort of hid behind that, and they were all telling me that there was nothing they could do. The previous person said this was very typical of Alias. But when I asked this guy the same question he said it is not at all typical of Alias.. he said that stuff usually ships within a couple days. So while overall the service at JourneyEd was absolutely terrible (until the last guy), it’s hard to recommend against shopping there since it’s so damned cheap. I bought Maya 6 Unlimited for like $400, rather than $7000. That’s a significant enough discount to make it still worth dealing with terrible service.

Takács Quartet

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So, they came to Bass Hall in Fort Worth last week. Can you believe I missed them? I was so sad. Amela even had two tickets for us to go, but we had a quartet rehearsal that we couldn’t get out of so she gave the tickets to Josh and Glori. We felt almost ill at losing this opportunity.

But Josh and Glori went to the concert, and Josh said it was incredible. I was about to make a Bartók/Shostakovich joke (sort of an inside joke that I don’t want to explain on my public blog, but some of you guys reading this know what I’m talking about).

One of my students also went to the concert and she absolutely loved it! She’s a quiet little 8th grade student who doesn’t say much, but as soon as I asked her about the concert her face lit up and she was as close to excited as I’ve ever seen her.

They played Beethoven, Bartok, and Borodin. (sigh)


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We had a relatively very nice performance of Rossini’s Barber of Seville last night. I’ve been having problems with one person in the orchestra, and those problems aren’t going away.. but everyone around that person managed to ignore the Bad Things that were going on well enough to pull off a good performance. This is also an outdoor opera performance, and the weather was particularly in our favor last night. The instruments stayed in tune much better than they typically do. Since it’s an outdoor thing, I decided not to use VLA THE IMPALER, my beautiful Iizuka viola. It makes me sad not to play on that viola, but I would be more sad if something bad happened to it. :)

I think the cast of this opera is very good. In particular, I think Matt Boehler (Don Basilio) and Daniel Teadt (Figaro) are really excellent.

Ben’s new CD

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Ben Loeb’s new CD with Joseph Lin was just released on Naxos label recently. It’s a recording of the complete works of Erich Korngold for violin and piano. It was reviewed and chosen as CD of the month at MusicWeb UK. Since it’s a Naxos recording, it’ll be reasonably priced. Ben graduated from Peabody after my first year there, and is an absolutely fantastic pianist. I like what little I’ve heard of Korngold so far — mostly just his violin concerto and the Much Ado About Nothing suite (which is on this CD) — and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the disc.

Viola bow

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I’ve known for a long time that my viola bow sucks, but it really hit home a couple weeks ago. I’ve been teaching spiccato to my little 12 year old student and so I was going to demonstrate for her using her own instrument and bow, and I found that the spiccato was even easier for me than using my own bow. So then I tried on my viola, and it was great. Then I just played a few long bows and was horrified to find that my viola sounded 20% better. And this isn’t even her good bow.. that one broke earlier in the semester. This was her second bow! Pulls a better sound than my bow and has a better spiccato. How’s that for a kick in the crotch?

So I’ve been saving up to get a really nice bow, and I have been talking to a bow maker in Paris about getting one of his possibly. I’m very excited about this possibility, because I love his bows very much. He said if I order a bow, he can have one for me in October.

Symphony slack

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This Fort Worth Symphony concert is such a fscking joke. We’re doing Messiah, of course, and it contains these senza ripieni or ripieni tacent sections where only the first three violists play. And, since I’m the fourth violist I never get to play. In a way, it sort of pisses me off. I want to play it all.

The slacker in me says, “Rock on, man! You’re getting PAID to sit on your ass and do nothing!”

But, I’m not sure I like getting paid for doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m definitely a slacker and enjoy doing nothing very constructive from time to time. But I don’t like doing nothing when I’m being paid as though I were doing something.


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I did have a really damned awesome rehearsal with my string quartet today at SMU. For some reason when we performed last week, the first movement of Death and the Maiden was very, very slow. It was very uncomfortable to me, but the others seemed to like it. Personally, I like to think of the opening in 2, not in 4. So, today, we started out in 4 in our new, sucky slow tempo, and we played through the entire piece. The first thing our coach said was, “You guys are playing this way too slow. It should be much faster, about on the border of being in 2.” That was cool.

So, we do now have a coach. Mr. Iwasaki is just way too busy to teach us, and he is out of town quite often. This new teacher is a violin teacher, but I can’t think of his name now. He seems pretty cool.

So, we began next in the new, faster tempo. It wasn’t quite as fast as we originally learned the movement in. When we first learned it, we blazed through that movement at the speed of light. Then we slowed down, to somewere around the speed of a pregnant tortoise wading through mud on a rainy day in autumn, and now we’re back up near our original tempo, although a little slower, so about the speed of light through slightly murky water.

The speed of light through slightly murky water is a very good tempo for the first movement of Death and the Maiden.


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Tonight is the first rehearsal for Fort Worth Symphony’s Messiah concert. I’m actually looking forward to it, even though I’m really not all that big on the work.


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Thanks to Seth Nickell, aka herring on Gnome IRC, at Eazel, it looks very likely that the recital broadcast will happen.

The recital is on October 29 at 7:30pm (Central time). You can listen to it via streaming mp3 by pointing your browser to http://beauty.stanford.edu/.

Things are still not definite, but they are looking very good.


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So, our second violinist is back from Italy. She got to the semi-final round of her competition. That’s very good! I’m very happy for her. And so, our quartet meets finally tomorrow night. We’re scheduled to perform, I believe, on November 16 at Southern Methodist University. I’ll post more details about that.

On that topic, I bought a CD of the Alban Berg Quartet performing Death and the Maiden, which is what my quartet is working on. The first time I listened to it, I absolutely couldn’t stand it. Part of that, I realized, was that I listened to it the stereo in one of the classrooms at school that I practice in, and that stereo sucks, so the recording sounded really top-heavy. But now I put it on my CD player at home that has some concept of balance, and it sounds very nice. They take the entire piece much faster than my quartet does, and I’m not used to that. Plus, they seem to just follow repeated sections randomly in the second movement. But, otherwise, I think the recording is nice and it’s really growing on me.

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