Saturday, February 28, 2009

Road trip

So we’re finishing up a road trip – Corinne is riding shotgun, with not one but two small yellow note-pads, one for creating lists of lists of things that we are going to do next; the other with questions and agenda items from before. Our new PA, Cecile, has given us a list of questions about things we like, feel, hope for the group etc with which she is going to magically create a design strategy, for the website, other publicity materials etc etc.
We have just played (this morning) at the Southern Chapter conference of the College Music Society, held at UCF in Orlando. We played 2 movements of the Schoenfield Café-Music at the end of the performance session this morning. And were gratified that the audience had swollen from the 14 who were there at the beginning of the session. The conference was combined with Music Theory Southeast, and many of the presentations were by theorists – some of which we heard, and which were, well, over our heads a little… But heard some good things, met some interesting people, including a lady whose thing is Tangos – she is going to send us several of her arrangements, and we are looking forward to that.
Corinne had agreed to play on a composers’ concert last night, and liked the piece (by Jonathan McNair) – unfortunately the pianist she had rehearsed with took ill that afternoon, so she ended up playing with a very talented student from Miami, who learned it on the spot.
We are going to enjoy these road-trips it seems – we have pretty complementary personalities, and still all get on very well (oh the horror stories one hears!) We discovered the joys of Applebees dessert shooters – a smallish portion that give you a taste – in this case, of chocolate mousse, strawberry cheesecake, and key lime pie – have a taste, pass it on, that kind of thing. We went to a Mexican restaurant that was recommended to Greg by a guy at a bar…. Anyway, it was ok – we did enjoy the tableside guacamole. And lots of sorting out the problems of the world, new ideas for the trio etc!
Lots to do when we get back – not least, beginning to bullet-proof the new pieces we will play in NYC – Takemitsu and Zwilich. And of course lots of little absences from one and another of us, to keep the scheduling interesting 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Therapy without the co-pay!

Say it isn’t so – February?

Big discovery of the day? Learning new music, or 20th century pieces we don’t know, is like couples’ therapy – or maybe triples’ therapy I suppose one should say. We are working our way through the very beautiful Between Tides, aka piano trio from 1986 of Toru Takemitsu, that quixotic epigrammist; two weeks ago we took part in the biennial New Music Festival at FSU, playing a piece by Alan Anderson; and have started on Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s trio. Anyhoo – the process of learning these things together, rather than each learning and then combining (as we do with 18th or 19th century works, for instance) has been the best thing we have done in terms of forming the group. Turns out that we find very different priorities – all about communicating and feeling each other, rather than having our 3 (sometimes disparate) ideas about how it should go. What we have done recently of more traditional stuff has felt quite different. It’s like those couples’ exercises where you just practice communicating – mirroring, for instance, where Person 1 says what s/he feels and Person 2 does not react, but just listens, repeats it back (to check that they got the message, and to allow P 1 to feel that s/he has really been heard), and then maybe verbalizes how s/he imagines that must be from the other Person’s point of view. Surprisingly powerful and effective by the way. But I digress – in the trio this also has been developing skills we didn’t even know we lacked. Really can’t speak highly enough of how much it helps the level of communication, listening, showing and responding to what is most important (rather than the distracting “ideas” one gets when the notes aren’t so concentration-consuming!)

We are starting our second attempt at personal assistant – the first left town, which we knew would happen, but then realized that actually he wouldn’t have time to put into our needs… So her first priority is the long-overdue web page! We do have an email list to start with (sign up! -, but obviously need SO much more!!

We played a concert in Jacksonville, trying out part of our NYC program; repeated it in Tallahassee the following weekend – discovered that Babajanian actually would be a good closer! Many of the folk in Tally (who are more forthcoming with their opinions…) liked that one a lot. So we will start in NYC with Ghost, finish with Baba, and put Ellen Taaffe Zwilich ( and Takemitsu ( in between – something for everybody! More later about these choices.

Our next project, equipped with these superb intrapersonal skill will be Paul Schoenfield Café-music at a Faculty Showcase concert (or Faculty Show-off as one of my Chinese students called it) preceding an audition day at FSU, then again at the CMS conference in Orlando -- Sat 11.15 ( Fun fun, and a reward for the hours of therapy we’ve been in!