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Lumina String Quartet

Festival Blog Archive 2010

Week 1

Week 1, Day 2 (Post by Jon)

Tuesday meant that it was private lesson day. During private lessons we are taught by a teacher/coach, working on certain difficult parts of our pieces. It’s also a great opportunity to work on solo and/or quartet music on your own while you are waiting for your turn. I had a lesson in the afternoon so I had plenty of time to practice on my own and find spots to work on with my teacher. I decided to practice with the cellist in my group since we both play the bottom lines of the quartet. We worked on different spots in the quartet before going to our respective lessons. I regret not bringing a solo piece to play as practicing the same piece for a couple hours can get quite tiring.

For lunch I ate with friends at the mall. There’s much to choose from at the mall so it was difficult deciding where to eat. We ended up eating pizza at the mall which was a bit pricy but still very good. I would save money and make my own lunches, but laziness usually wins.

We returned with a surprise, as our coach was waiting for us to rehearse. It wasn’t expected since he told us that he’d be at a rehearsal, but it turned out it was a bit later. We worked on the slow second movement of the Mozart quartet, making sure we get the dynamics and balance correct. While I seemed to remember them the other day, when we actually rehearsed it I forget to play the dynamics. I’ll blame the jetlag. At least my group in the nice air conditioned room unlike the years before where it was too humid to actually get any work done. Since the room was nice, we were able to fix the problems we had with the first two movements, without complaining because of the heat, so we can move on to the last movement tomorrow and see how that goes.

Week 1, Day 3 (Post by Jon)

We started today rehearsing the last movement of our piece. It’s a relatively fast movement so it was difficult to keep together. We were able to get through the movement with the help of our coach. I was still jetlagged so I didn’t perform up to standard, or I wasn’t use to the tempo and should’ve practiced at a higher tempo instead of keeping it slow for the notes. Either one works. I’ll make use of the private practice time tomorrow to get that movement up to speed. After somewhat getting through the last movement, we decided to run through the piece. That also didn’t go as planned since our coach decided to fix the mistakes made during the first movement. At least the second movement sounds pretty good.

For lunch my friends and I decided to return to the mall to try something different than before. Once again I was too lazy to make a real decision, so I ended up eating pizza again, but with different toppings. There’s plenty to choose from in the mall and I hope I won’t be as lazy tomorrow and try something new. The second movement sounds nice at least.

After lunch, we continued to rehearse the third movement trying to get up to performance tempo. There’s still work to do, but at least we got the basic feel of the tempo. After finally running through the piece we concluded that the second movement was the most in shape and the last movement needed the most work. Although there’s much to work on, having one movement in decent shape gives us the confidence needed to work through the other movements and get them in shape as well. Oh and did I mention that the second movement sound good?

Week 1, Day 3 (Post by Ricky)

Today was the third day of quartet camp. It was a very productive for my quartet, the only mishap being that I forgot my copy of the music at home. Luckily one of the coaches had a copy of my part that I could steal. The tempos are nearly up to speed and the concert is already looking good. Whenever we stop for a small break we can hear the quartet down the hall from us practicing hard ... ’cept for the time that they found a ball of fluff in one of the violins and took a break to remove it. Tomorrow we have another 4 hours or so to practice, I don’t know if I can fill all that time, but I certainly will try.

Week 1, Day 4 (Post by Jon)

Just like Tuesday we started the day with private practice and lessons. My friend and I arrived fairly early to get our spot from Tuesday. It’s a pretty large room with fairly nice acoustics so it’s not something we’d give up easily. I took the time getting the third movement up to speed and adjusting to the new fingerings I obtained from my teacher. It’s always good to ask a coach/teacher for an alternate way of playing a part especially if you have trouble with it.

Once again we went to the mall for lunch, but instead ate pretzels. It’s clearly still a healthy choice for lunch. With the time left we browsed around the mall finding many interesting stores...Personally I find the Apple store quite amusing with the many things to try out.

When we returned, our coach was there to see how much we progressed on the third movement with our time the other day. We still aren’t up to tempo but we still made major improvement from yesterday. I’m slightly disappointed in myself since I’m still struggling with the speed in the third movement. I had quite a bit of work to do tonight. I’m also very looking forward to Round Robin tomorrow and hopefully won’t be slightly disappointed like I was last year

Week 1, Day 5 (Post by Ricky)

Today was the 2nd to last day of this week of camp. I think that our quartet is in a very comfortable position for the concert on Sunday.

For lunch today I went with some friends to Katie’s Gourmet. It was really good, I got a pub burger it has a funky redish pink cheese but it was really good though.

We did round robin today which was a lot of fun. I got to read Shubert Cello Quintet, Debussy, and Shostakovich. It was really run. The Shosty was the hardest, followed by Debussy, and the Shubert was the easiest. Then again I only played the fast movement of the Shostakovich, only the first 2 pages of the Shubert, and all of the Debussy.

Week 1, Day 6 (Post by Jon)

Today was the Master Class/Dress Rehearsal where we perform a movement of our piece to all the coaches at the camp. I thought we would play the last movement since we had the most trouble with it, but our coach suggested we do the first one to get more musical and technical advice on it. Overall the performance went pretty well with only a few suggestions on musicality. Afterwards, we fixed up all the suggestions made and decided to take a break after all the hard work.

For lunch, we ate at Atlantic Pizza which we remember to have very good quality pizza. I forget how many topping we added, but I remember that it was pretty much covered in topping. After lunch, we came back early to doodle on the blackboard in our room. It was quite the masterpiece and I hope that our coach, who took a picture of it, will put it on the website with the rest of the pictures he took.

For the rest of the day we basically finalized everything in the piece and decided what worked needed to be done by our concert tomorrow. Personally, I think that everything is going really well and that we’ll sound really good tomorrow.

Week 1, Day 6 (Post by Ricky)

Today was the last day before the concert. We had the master class today and it went well. We played the first movement of the piece and the critiques that they gave us were minor to small concerns, nothing to be worried about.

Our coach is happy as to where we currently are in terms of preparation. We are playing 4th on the program out of seven. I am kind of sad to see the week end. It was fun being able to play with great musicians all of the time.

Week 1, Day 7 (Post by Jon)

Concert Day! Our one week of hard work gets paid off today. I woke up today energized and ready to perform. I was surprisingly not nervous and eager to perform in the Palace Theater. Unlike last year, the performance area was elevated and had a screen on the back of it making it sound a lot better. We got there early enough to get use to the stage before the concert started. We decided on our attire a few days ago, but our clarinetist seemed to have forgotten and came looking different than the rest of us. We all looked nice and professional but it would have been better to match more.

Before our turn, our clarinetist discovered a problem in his reed. I don’t really understand how a clarinet works so I can’t really explain the problem but it required careful decision making. He had the choice of either keeping his better sounding reed with the possibility of breaking or using a different not as great one. It later turned out well in the end as he decided to not take the risk and use another reed.

Our performance overall went really well. Although it wasn’t as good as we wanted to be it still sounded pretty good and we were glad to get it done with. No matter what the rest of my group members say, I still believe that it went extremely well and that they all did a great job. Hopefully next week will sound great as well!

Week 2

Week 2, Day 1 (Post by Jon)

Usually after a concert, one would enjoy the next day relaxed and carefree. Instead, I returned for my second week of quartet camp. It would’ve been nice to have a day off, but I know that’s impossible. This week I’m in an entirely new group, a younger group, but still a good variety of people. One thing I’m pleased with is that I get my spot back in the quartet as the week before the clarinetist sat in it. I had to adjust a bit, but I still like my spot better than sitting anywhere else, except maybe my spot in the Shubert cello quintet. I’m also pretty close to my coach this week as I’ve already had her as a coach at least four other times during my chamber music life time which means I’ll have a good time while working hard.

Our first day run through went pretty well with just a few minor mistakes and my inability to count correctly. I’ll fix that. A good run through the first day tells us what we need to work on and what parts we should practice on our own. I’ll be most likely spending my time working with a metronome so I can actually count properly.

After lunch, we had a guest speaker Fan Tao speak to us about the mechanics and physics behind how our instruments work. My family knows him pretty well as we live in the same town and he too is a musician who has played in the same orchestras as I have. He works for D’Addario Strings and specializes in making different style strings all used for different purposes. It’s nice to see him come every year and teach us about how our instruments work and about things we usually wouldn’t think of.

Although I’m worn out, it seems like Week 2 is starting off quite well (:

Week 2, Day 1 (Post by Michelle)

Today was the first day of the second week of the festival. Going from being the only violinist in a clarinet quartet to being second violin in a regular quartet was a big change. However, I really enjoyed my first rehearsal with the Debussy Quartet. We went through the first and second movements with our coach, Asya, and got more familiar with them. Later on, a lady from the Advocate came and asked us a couple of questions for the article she's doing on the Chamber Music Institute.

After rehearsal, my friends and I went to lunch at the mall where we ate at Sbarro which was wonderful and delicious (and also very needed as I had not been able to eat breakfast this morning). After lunch, we listened to our guest speakers, Fan Tao and , Lyris Hung from D'Addario Strings. They taught us about the differences between the different type of cores such as gut, steel and synthetic. They also went over things like the tension and gauge of the strings and how that affects the sound that they produce. It was all very interesting (and we got free strings and rosin, which was a nice bonus).

Afterwards, Asya went and coached Lynn's quartet as Lynn is not back from Japan yet. That left our quartet to rehearse on our own which we all thought was very beneficial because it allowed us to start making the piece our own.

Week 2, Day 2 (Post by Jon)

Like last week, the second day of camp is dedicated to private practice and lessons. It was nice to have a lesson today since I changed some fingering in my part and wondered if they actually could work. Having a teacher or coach with you to help you with the technicality of a piece allows you to work more on musicality and such. Afterwards, I spent most of my private practice time working with a metronome making sure I’m playing correctly. I’ll see tomorrow if I actually succeeded or not.

For lunch, since we decided to eat a bit late, we walked across the street to Maestro which is a sandwich place. There’s a ton of variety to eat there and I really enjoyed the freshness of my sandwich.

After lunch, I worked with my group without my coach since she was busy playing cello elsewhere. Although it took a while to get serious, we accomplished a bit and played through a couple movements. We made sure to get all the technical stuff and intonation right so that when we work with our coach tomorrow we can focus on musicality. Today I learned of the importance of having a coach work with us as an experienced musician. I also lost my voice. Didn’t expect that either.

Week 2, Day 2 (Post by Michelle)

Today was the first lesson/practice day at camp. Surprise! Practice doesn't end at 4:30. See you tomorrow.

Week 2, Day 3 (Post by Jon)

Today decided to take a kick at the very difficult last movement of our piece. Although we played it rather slowly, it still sounded pretty well. We fixed many problems with the movement and figured out what we individually needed to work on tomorrow during private practice time. Having forgotten to eat breakfast, I was rather distracted throughout rehearsal. This is why I’m glad that I’m literate. Although I don’t remember what I wrote down this morning, I at least have it somewhere on my music.

A very talented violin maker came in today to teach us about the many ways to change sound on an instrument. He fiddled with different parts of a violin, like the bridge and sound post, to show us how a minor change can affect the sound. He also looked at many of our instruments and made them sound better. I didn’t bring my instrument to show him as I already know it needs quite a bit work done on it.

For the rest of the day we rehearsed through the third movement with our coach until she had to leave. It’s a very tricky movement so it was good that the coach was there to guide us through it. We worked through the first movement after our coach left and fixed little problems there and there. Now that I know what I need to work on, I’ll be practicing quite a bit tomorrow during private practice.

Week 2, Day 3 (Post by Michelle)

Today was the third day of camp. We practiced the first and fourth movements this morning with our coach, Asya. We got a lot of work done and figured out how our parts went together. At lunch, my friends and I went across the street to the Sandwich Maestro and got sandwiches. I got a sandwich with turkey and lettuce and mayonnaise and mustard and cheese. I couldn't decide what type of cheese I wanted, so I told her to surprise me. She just gave me both, though. Disappointment.

After lunch, we had a guest speaker who taught us about how just moving the soundpost a hair will change the entire sound of the instrument. He also looked at some of our instruments to adjust the bridges/soundposts.

Afterwards, our group went back to rehearsing with Asya. We went through the entire quartet which was a good experience. Now we really know where we stand in regards to how much we know the music (and how much we need to practice). Overall, today was a very productive day.

Week 2, Day 4 (Post by Jon)

Round Robin! Except that was later.

The day felt like forever before Round Robin (getting there extra early didn’t really help). It was on my mind all day which definitely did not help my playing throughout the day. In the morning rehearsal I would constantly have our coach repeat what she just said because I wasn’t paying attention and thinking about the afternoon. I barely remember what went on this morning but I remember writing important things down, which is a plus.

For lunch once again we ate at the Sandwich Maestro place. I ate a chicken sandwich which tasted pretty well. I don’t really mind, but it was amusing that the person who prepared my sandwich added cucumbers again when I said no when she asked if I wanted some. It was still a great sandwich. Later my friend and I went to the mall where they bought a rather adorable panda-pillow-stuffed thing. I don’t really know what to label it as.

Round Robin this week was quite a fun even having performed the piece the previous year. I got to play with my friends and it was fun for me remembering or attempting to remember my part. What was most amusing was that as the day went on, more people would join in and play in the Cello Quintet. We ended up having almost two people to a part and it was getting a bit stuffy playing with eight or so people in a small room. No matter what, Round Robin still to me is the best part of the camp.

Week 2, Day 4 (Post by Michelle)

Today, we had lessons and individual practice in the morning until one at which point we had lunch. I practiced really hard this morning, trying to really nail the hard parts. From what I heard outside of the coat closet I was in, other people were working hard also. My friends and I went back to the Sandwich Maestro for lunch only we got different things today.

After lunch, we had a talent show in which we had a surprise! Ada, Asya's niece, came and performed for us. She goes to Berkley where she can play all sorts of different types of music like jazz, bluegrass and classical. That was a really neat experience. It was even more exciting when Sam got up and he and Ada improvised music. Later on, two other guys got up and they all tried playing a jazz piece together. It was all very impressive.

After, the talent show we got back to work and went to rehearse with Asya. We went through the entire first movement and the beginning/end of the last movement. I've got a lot of work to do. Yay for lack of sleep.

Week 2, Day 4 (Post by Eloise)

What an interesting day at camp! Although the morning started off slowly (with storm clouds above the 923429 miles of traffic that I seemed to be stuck in), the afternoon turned out to be not only fun and exciting, but productive as well! After practicing the Beethoven quartet and having a lesson with Mioi, Jedrik and I ventured across the street to the Sandwich Maestro to pick up lunch. Though one might not think of crossing the road as a difficult task, we managed to almost get run over by a large truck before arriving back at the Palace Theater. However, the possible death was definitely worth it (in my opinion) because the sandwiches were SO good! Later, after Jon had finished his lesson and Michelle and Madi had taken a break from practicing, we went back to the sandwich shop and got brownies, this time being slightly more conscientious when crossing the street.

Once the lunch period gradually died down, people began to anticipate the upcoming "mystery visitor” (in Asya’s words), as well as the camp talent show. After I had been somewhat productive and had practiced some Beethoven, Asya suddenly came rushing into the main hallway, calling me and everybody else into the café area. As we made our way over we saw that the mystery person was Asya’s niece, Ada! When we all were seated Ada introduced herself and gave us some advice, where she urged everyone to stretch before practicing- something that I have not been doing… Afterwards Ada sang a song and accompanied herself, which was really impressive. Next she and Sam met for the first time, and they both began to improvise. Not only was their piece (that they MADE UP!) amazing, but they looked like they were having a lot of fun while they played which was really fun to watch. After Ari and Malachi had joined the two of them and had played a rendition of Amazing Grace, Ada played Czardas with her mom accompanying her. The truly astonishing thing was that Ada was able to play the piece really well after not looking at it for more than a year! I know that I was extremely impressed, and I’m sure others were as well.

Once she had finished, Ada said some last words of advice and then she sat down with us to watch the rest of the talent show. Together we all watched as Rayna did insanely difficult looking gymnastics flips around the floor. I think I was a little shocked that she was still alive after she did a series of back flips, so I can’t quite remember what talent came after her. There was a magic trick from Anna involving a disappearing coin, as well as some seriously professional hand clapping from Emily and Rayna, however I’m not sure if those talents could top the talent of the two best “livers” (as Asya put it), Michelle and Madi. They stood in front of us for around 2 minutes and half laughed-half breathed until their time was up, in which Michelle collapsed onto the floor…and appeared to die. (Obviously not actual death- she’s needed in the concert) Though these talents were all pretty spectacular, I think that the best talents came from Ari, who could not only improvise very well on his viola, but could also imitate different birds! He didn’t just stop with the birdcalls (which sounded extremely realistic), but he returned to the front of the room and “played” a popular song on his face by patting his cheeks with his hands! I think that the talent show was a definite success, and a nice break from the hard work that we’ve all been doing this week.

Week 2, Day 5 (Post by Michelle)

On Friday we really had to buckle down and work hard. I came in early because Asya had wanted me to talk with her to a reporter about the Chamber Music Institute. That went well, I thought. I said lots of wonderful things. (Phil owes me money.) :P

We worked a lot on the fourth movement in the morning and a little bit on the rest of the movements too. Then, after Asya went over everything she wanted to go over, she had us perform the entire quartet for her. However, we only got through the first two movements because Phil came in and told us that it was time to vacate the Palace Theater and head over to the church. So, we finished the second movement and then went to the church.

After we got to the church and set up our room, my friends and I went to lunch. We bought our lunch from the Sandwich Maestro (for the last time since they're closed on Saturday) and then went over to the mall to eat. Before we headed back to the church, though, Eloise and I bought Asya a panda pillow because she always puts a pillow on her chair to sit on and it was adorable. Maddy named him Demetri Claude Tchaikovsky. Awesome.

After lunch, we played the third and fourth movements which Asya then went back over and corrected. We then went out into the hall and performed all four movements for Asya on stage.

Week 2, Day 5 (Post by Eloise)

Apparently if you write one blog post you are supposed to carry on writing one each day…so here is a blog post for Friday.

Friday morning seemed like a blur- the reasons for my lack of remembrance could be due to these reasons:
1. My memory is failing me and I simply can’t remember anything that happens once the day has passed 2. I was still asleep for the first portion of the day thanks to my very reliant alarm clock that went off approximately 5 minutes before I was supposed to get into the car. 3. It was Friday the 13th.

Whatever the reasons were, it was obvious that I wasn’t the only member of my quartet who seemed to need more sleep that day. The first hours of rehearsal were pretty bleak. All the problems in my part that I had practiced the night before were still there. (Clearly I need to try some different practice techniques.) When 12:00 finally came around, it was time to relocate to the church. That’s when I discovered that I had forgotten my stand! (The day was going great). However, after my friends and I had eaten and I had regained some energy, I was feeling a little more hopeful about the afternoon rehearsal. I must admit that by the time our quartet had finished practicing for the day, Beethoven was sounding infinitely better- and was possibly performance acceptable! The next two hours of the day were the most amusing, because it was time for the round robin. Unlike the last session, (where I was accidentally placed in the Debussy group even though I had been working on Debussy the whole week), I was assigned a new piece, the Cello Schubert Quintet! Except it wasn’t entirely new since I had performed it before, playing second violin. Anyway, it was still incredibly fun because I got to play with my friends, and had Dan as a coach (which is always exciting). As the time passed, new round robin members would start to make their way into our room and join in on the fun. Eventually it got to the point where almost everybody was doubled up on a part, turning the Schubert Cello Quintet into the Schubert Cello Nonet. Although my day may have started off slowly, when it was time to catch the 5:45 train there was no question that I was sad to leave.

Week 2, Day 6 (Post by Michelle)

Today was the last day of rehearsal before the concert. This morning we figured out the order for the concert and had the master class. My quartet played the fourth movement of the Debussy. That was probably the best time we had played it up until that point. Asya, at least, had seemed pleased (which, let's be honest, is all that REALLY matters). :)

Then we went to the mall for the lunch. I got Sierra Mist and it was gross (it tasted like it was 3/4 water, 1/4 sierra mist) so I went back and asked them to give me something else, which they were actually very nice about.

After lunch, Asya went over the fourth movement with us. She then quickly went over any last things she wanted in the other three movements. She then had us perform the entire quartet for her. It went very well. The end.

Just kidding, the concert's tomorrow.

Week 2, Day 6 (Post by Jon)

Not much to say about today. We played decently well at the Master Class and worked hard throughout the rest of the day. Although I felt a bit unsure at first, I now feel that my group will sound pretty good during tomorrow’s concert. We really worked hard this week and it will definitely show at the concert tomorrow. Although I’ve been at this camp for quite a while (Frankly, I do not remember how long I’ve been here), this week, brought many different experiences for me and I look forward to coming again next summer.

Week 2, Day 7 (Post by Michelle)

Today was the day of the concert. Yay! Everyone got to the Palace Theater sometime around noon and the different quartets took turns practicing on stage (to get a feel of how it sounds). At about 2:15, Anna Leunis was awarded a scholarship from the Stamford Center for the Arts . Afterwards, she performed Tchaikovsky's A Song Without Words with Asya. Then, the concert started.

My quartet was performing last and so we went downstairs to the stage to rehearse/practice/etc. before we had to go on stage. We had a very long time to wait, though, because it takes a long time for six quartets to perform.

We finally performed and I think it went very well. We all managed not to make any awful, horrendous mistakes and Asya was pleased. A+ work, guys. I'll miss you.

Week 2, Day 7 (Post by Eloise)

After a week of hard work, new friendships, and many trips to the Sandwich Maestro, the day of the final concert had arrived. I think my subconscious knew that the day had been coming, as I had experienced many anxiety dreams the nights before... Anyway, I woke up and began to practice the Beethoven String Quartet for one last time. After several hours I came to the sudden realization that I had absolutely nothing to wear, sending me into a brief state of panic. Thankfully I was able to pull something out of my hugely disorganized closet, and after gathering all my things, I set off to the Palace Theater. My group and I rehearsed before the concert, in attempts to fix any last minute imperfections, and then when it was time for the concert to start we all headed downstairs to wait. After the group before us had played their final notes and had exited the stage, we all nervously began to make our way up to the front. The performance was definitely interesting. Though I didn’t play my best, there certainly weren’t any huge disasters (thankfully). Once we had finished, we stood up and bowed. At this point, I was supposed to say something about the past week and our piece. However, being pretty unprepared I ended up saying the most random jumble of thoughts that came into my mind at the time. So I apologize to those who were victims of my public speaking skills. (Maybe next time I’ll write something out.) The rest of the concert was great, with groups playing impressive music at impressive levels of musicianship. After the long concert, the audience members and performers were definitely hungry. I know this because as soon as I had gone downstairs to collect my things and returned back to the main hall, 90% the food seemed to magically disappear. But maybe I’m just a very slow walker… Finally, after saying last goodbyes, I left the Palace Theater for the final time this summer.

Though there were moments of camp where I may have felt discouraged, or questioned my abilities, I ultimately would not take back these last two weeks for anything. I think that the Chamber Music Institute for Young Musicians not only helps improve the musicianship of its participants, but also allows them to experience great music in a wonderful and caring environment. Each coach is genuinely invested in helping their groups learn new things, and I definitely have gained so much musical knowledge and information this summer. In addition to becoming a better and more self assured chamber music musician, I also have made great friends and have had many fun (and sometimes strange) experiences that I know I’ll never forget.

Not only has the camp coming to an end, but my blogging for this summer is now over as well… However, I know I’ll be back in the summer of 2011, writing more blogs on another great year at camp!!!

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