Sunday, July 29, 2012

One more week of core camp... then what?

Every summer, one ensemble librarian stays for an extra two weeks after the main camp to work with the Adult Band Camp and Adult Chamber Music Camp. This year, that librarian is me! :) 

Adult Band Camp (ABC) is a six day experience. More than seventy adults come to Interlochen from all over the country, and many of them have been coming for years. Musicians will get to participate in master classes with the faculty, participate in chamber music rehearsals, and of course play in the full band. The full band rehearses every day, and concludes on the sixth day with a concert open to the public.

Adult Chamber Music Camp (ACM) is a week long program. Participants can choose one of two tracks: "Horizons," which allows participants to read a lot of music with many different players, or "Polestar," which allows participants to focus on a few pieces with the same group of musicians. This year's theme is "The Joy of Discovery." ACM permits up to two hundred musicians, which means that there are quite a few chamber groups. It will be a challenge to manage that much music, but it's nothing I can't handle! :)

There will be daily chamber music performances as well, featuring ACM faculty and the Enso String Quartet, the artists-in-residence. I'm really looking forward to getting such exposure to chamber music. I think it will be an amazing learning experience.

The last of the music for the core camp is out, so I've been able to get a head start on preparing music for the Adult Band Camp. There are seventeen pieces to prepare, so it's a lot of work...

For those of you counting, yes, there are more than seventeen carcasses of music there. The middle stack of five carcasses is all ONE piece, Johann de Meij's Lord of the Rings. It's one of my favorite band pieces ever and I love talking about it, so I will probably post more about it at a later time.

For now, though, it's back to work!

Friday, July 27, 2012

World Youth Wind Symphony Video

New video released today about the World Youth Wind Symphony:

It's a privilege to work with such great kids :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"A Little Minor Booze"

As an oboist, I've had an interesting relationship with jazz.

In my high school jazz band, I played first tenor saxophone. We went to four or five jazz festivals every spring, and we got to see the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and the Swing Machine, in which my high school band director played the trombone. I enjoyed it, and looked forward to it, even.

In college, jazz suddenly stopped appealing to me.

The jazz portion of my freshman year western music course? I quickly learned to raise my hand when everyone else did, and I did well in the class.

Jazz improvisation? Most embarrassing class of my life. I understood the theory, but the creativity and willingness to experiment just wasn't there.

Jazz concerts? I attended them all. It's sort of expected when you're dating a saxophone player. But mostly I just stared at the program and wished it would go by faster.

Maybe it was the intense focus on oboe and the all-too-time-consuming process of making reeds. Maybe it was the new teaching style that was the polar opposite fit for my learning style. But it just wasn't for me.

Here at Interlochen, I've been trying to broaden my horizons. I've gone to a cello recital, a percussion quartet  performance, and the Los Angeles Children's Choir recital. I went to the Shakespeare festival's production of A Misummer Night's Dream, and I have a ticket to see the high school repertory theater program's production of Midsummer/Jersey tomorrow night. I even went to see a piano concerto performed with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra.

If there's any place in the country to explore new things in the arts, it's here at Interlochen.

It therefore made perfect sense to attend the Faculty/Staff Big Band recital this evening. And, dare I say, I enjoyed it.

As the recital began, I found myself looking at the program, wondering if there would be a good place to duck out. In the middle of the second piece, "A Little Minor Booze" by Willie Maiden, though, I found myself thinking something during a jazz performance that I hadn't for a long time.

"Wow... that was really cool."

And I stayed for the entire recital.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm all of a sudden in love with jazz. But I'm intrigued once again :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

"What happened to your music?"

This is one of my favorite questions to ask when a student comes to me asking for a new part.

Common answers include:

"I forgot it in my cabin."
"I think I left it somewhere in the cafeteria."
"I left it somewhere and I came back and it was gone!"

But, occasionally, we get some interesting responses:

"I set it on the Pepsi cooler and it got a little damp."
"I wrote my shopping list on it."
"It fell in the lake."

And, my personal favorite...

"I threw it away."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Week Four

Another week down. Officially 2/3 of the way through core camp!

Being an even week, it was a lot of work. The last batch of WYWS folders went out yesterday afternoon, the juniors had a concert on Friday, and a new batch of juniors is arriving today and will begin rehearsals tomorrow.

The highlight of the week was a visit from my boyfriend! He even got a gold star from Alice because he drove seven hours to see me :)

We went to the staff recital in which some of the other librarians were performing, and then we went to the Styx concert. It was a great way to spend the evening!

The juniors had a great concert on Friday, and then WYWS performed on Saturday night. This week's program consisted of:

Saisei Fanfare - Brett William Dietz
Fantasia in G Major - Johann Sebastian Bach, transcribed by Richard Goldman and Robert Leist
Lost Vegas - Michael Daugherty
Folk Dances - Dmitri Shostakovich

My personal favorite was Lost Vegas. It was written by the same composer who wrote Bells for Stokowski, which WYWS played in their very first concert. I was unfamiliar with this composer prior to this summer, but I've loved both of his pieces that my band has performed. Listen to Lost Vegas here:

Today's my day off, which will be a nice, lazy day hanging around campus. I'm going to both the Interlochen Philharmonic and World Youth Symphony Orchestra concerts later today, and I also plan on doing a lot of reading. I just started a new book last night, and I'm already a third of the way through it and can't put it down :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mission Point

Most of the librarians have Monday afternoons off. We work incredibly hard, so this week we decided to do something special -- tour the wineries at Mission Point!

We began at the very tip of the point at the lighthouse and beach. The lake has receded over the last few years, leaving a "martian land" between the sand and the lake.

We then proceeded to visit five wineries:

2 Lads...

Chateau Chantal...

Bowers Harbor Vineyards...

Peninsula Cellars...

They have a wine called Detention, and their advertisement was writing lines on the board:
"I will only drink good wine!"
and Chateau Grand Traverse.

The entire area was absolutely gorgeous. Exploring was an amazing way to spend the afternoon.

And now... it's back to work. I have a stack of Copland parts calling my name :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Week Three

Another week down. Camp is officially halfway done!

Monday brought a new batch of juniors, and, with it, entirely different instrumentation. In the last session we had five trumpets and one flute, but this time we have five flutes and no trumpets! The differing enrollment is challenging to work with, but it's a great bunch of kids and the conductor is fantastic with them.

Week Three also brings Collage, which is advertised as a one hour sampler of all that Interlochen offers. Performances included a harp ensemble, scenes from theater and musical theater productions, the World Youth Wind Symphony and World Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Jazz Ensemble, creative writing readings, dance performances, and chamber groups. It's an incredibly busy few days, with the dress rehearsal on Monday night and the performance on Tuesday night, but the end result is fantastic. See for yourself:

On Friday, I worked the intermediate band and orchestra concert. The Intermediate Concert Orchestra librarian was out of the state for a wedding and job interview, so I stood in for her and collected the orchestra's music after the concert (which, if I may add, is much more difficult than it sounds!). Although I had been to the intermediate concerts many times, I had never actually worked with the group, so it was a new experience for me. 

Saturday was, of course, WYWS's weekly concert with ISB, which was to be webcast live. WYWS had another great program:

Riff Raff - Ryan George
Lauda - Steve Danyew
Traveler - David Maslanka

Sunday was my day off, and a wonderfully relaxing one. I started off the day in the library, breaking down ICO folders and doing a bit of organizational work. I then went on a hike with one of the music reference interns. We hiked around a lake, and it was gorgeous. We'll definitely be going back!

I ended the day by attending the Interlochen Philharmonic and World Youth Symphony Orchestra concerts. It was awesome for two reasons: 1) I had never been close enough to campus to make it to an IP concert before, and 2) WYSO played Firebird. It was the 1911 version of Firebird, too, which was incredible to see because it's not performed nearly as often as the 1919 version.

Each week seems to be getting better and better, and Week Four is already off to a fantastic start. I'll post again soon about the adventures from yesterday's afternoon off :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lessons from Young Oboists

Working with the Junior Band, I've gotten the opportunity to observe several young oboists, all of whom have been playing for a year or less. While their playing is at a higher level than I expected, there are three bad habits that I noticed right away:

1) Not pushing the reed in all the way. Well-meaning band directors will often tell students to "push in" or "push out" when tuning individuals. Young oboists, upon hearing this, will sometimes pull the reed out of the oboe, not realizing that pitch is actually changed with the embouchure and amount of reed in the mouth, rather than the amount of reed in the instrument itself. The staple (or tube) of an oboe reed is an extension of the instrument itself, and pulling it out affects the sound of the instrument.

2) Not soaking the reed. Soaking a reed in water, rather than spit, is very important. First of all, soaking the reed in water allows it to become equally wet on the inside and outside of the reed, which will make the reed more consistent, require less soaking as the rehearsal goes on, and even improve the reed's response and opening. Secondly, soaking the reed in water actually extends its life. Our saliva breaks down the molecules in a reed and slowly kills it over time. Soaking a reed in spit speeds up this process.

3) Leaving the reed on the oboe all the time. When there is a break in rehearsal, directors will tell students to set their instruments on their chair. Young oboists do so, not thinking of the danger in which they are placing their reeds. It may take an accident leading to the death of a reed for young oboists to realize the need to protect their reeds. During breaks, the reed should always be removed from the oboe and placed either in the student's reed case or on the student's stand.

I think the most interesting thing about these observations is that none of them involve how these students actually play the oboe. These are minor bad habits that are easily fixed once students are aware of them. Raise awareness!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Week Two

Week Two was quite a bit busier than the first week, mostly due to the switching of juniors and the preparation of new WYWS music.

I have Monday afternoons off. After attending my morning rehearsals and packing up the rental pieces from the first concert, I headed to the Sleeping Bear Dunes with one of the other ensemble librarians. Making the climb was more difficult than it looks (especially if, like me, you're not at all used to walking in sand!), but I'm proud to say I made it to the top :)

Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty ordinary and I followed my normal schedule.

On Thursday, things began to get interesting. Junior Band was joined in rehearsal by members of the Intermediate Wind Symphony. Junior Band has pretty sporadic enrollment, so sometimes we end up with odd instrumentation. This session, we had only one flute player and no low brass players! Some of the intermediates join the juniors in concert so that all parts are covered. New players of course means extra music, but preparing and distributing it went very smoothly. The intermediates handled the situation extremely well, which of course helped!

On Thursday night, I was able to attend the Shakespeare Festival's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I had read this particular play multiple times in school, but it was my first time seeing a Shakespeare play live and it made all the difference. I really enjoyed the performance and I'm glad that I got a new experience :)

Friday was the day of the junior concert. Junior Band joined the three other junior ensembles for a final concert. Each ensemble performed very well, and it was encouraging to see young kids performing at that level. Also, adorable!

Saturday was an incredibly busy day. Students in WYWS receive two weeks of music at a time so that they can practice farther in advance, and Saturday was the day new music was to be distributed. For Weeks Three and Four, WYWS has about a dozen pieces, so preparing all of that music and booking those folders was quite the adventure!

On Saturday night, WYWS again had a concert along with ISB. It was another great program, consisting of Avelynn's Lullaby by Joel Puckett (composer in residence) and an arrangement of Respighi's Pines of Rome.

I have always loved Pines of Rome, particularly the last movement (Pines of the Appian Way), so I was very excited when I found out that it was on my band's program. I'd highly recommend giving this arrangement a listen!

Today, I got the opportunity to attend the Cherry Festival in Traverse City, see the air show, look through the crafts fair, and explore downtown. We headed back to campus in time to see WYSO perform Pictures at an Exhibition. It was the perfect way to spend my day off!

New music is ready for the session of Junior Band beginning tomorrow, a new conductor is arriving to work with WYWS tomorrow, and I have finally unearthed my desk because all of the music that was strewn all over it is prepared and distributed. Looking forward to a fantastic Week Three!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ensemble Library Olympics

In honor of the summer Olympics, the ensemble librarians have spent some time over the last few days creating our own version!

The Library Olympics will feature various tasks that we complete on a daily basis, competing for both time and accuracy.

To determine events, we looked at each of our strengths.


Wagon running...




And more!

The event in my honor?

Communication. In other words, figuring out what the conductor/manager/musician really wants :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sharp or Flat?

One of the ensembles that I work with is the Junior Band, which consists of students who have just completed grades 3-6. It's an amazing educational opportunity. Even though I did not pursue a degree in music education, I am still frequently found in situations in which I must teach private lessons and lead sectionals. Additionally, I have never had the opportunity to work with beginning students before. It's an entirely different ballgame because, well, it's been a long time since I was in their shoes :)

One thing that struck me the other day was the conductor's explanation of how to remember what to do when you're sharp or flat. Some conductors merely say "push in" or "push out," and as you get older, it's almost automatic.

This conductor, however, launched into an explanation that sharp meant that a student's pitch was too high and that flat meant that a student's pitch was too low. He then explained how to fix it with the help of our "magic pencil sharpener."

At the beginning of the session, every student was given a "magic pencil." The pencil was magic because if it was used, no more mistakes would be made. To sharpen these magic pencils, students use the magic pencil sharpener.

If a pencil is flat, you'll want to push it in to the pencil sharpener to sharpen it and release its magic.

If a pencil is sharp, then you'll want to pull it out of the pencil sharpener because it's ready to be used.

I never learned any helpful little tricks like this when I was just beginning band, and it would have helped a lot. It's very enlightening to revisit this time in young musicians' development, especially after completing the first year of my master's degree in performance. It's really bringing me back to the basics in my own way of thinking, and I have already learned many new, creative ways to get a lot of information to the students in a short amount of time (and in ways that they'll remember!).

It has been great seeing how much the kids have improved in just a week and a half, and I can't wait to see how much they will grow in their last few days here. They have their final concert on Friday, and then they will leave camp. It will be sad to see them go, but a new session with new students and new repertoire will start on Monday :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Week One

Well, the first week is over!

Students arrived last Saturday, auditioned on Sunday, and began classes and rehearsals on Monday.

On a typical day, I spend two hours at Junior Band rehearsal and three hours at World Youth Wind Symphony rehearsal. When I am not in rehearsal, I’m mostly likely to be found in the library, working on music for the next concert.

On Saturday nights, my band shares a concert with the second high school band, the Interlochen Symphony Band.

Last night was WYWS’s first concert, and the program consisted of:

Smetana Fanfare – Karel Husa
Lullaby for Kirsten – Leslie Bassett
Rose Variations, featuring trumpet soloist John Aley – Robert Russell Bennett
Bells for Stokowski – Michael Daugherty
“The BSO Forever” March from Divertimento – Leonard Bernstein, arr. Clare Grundman

It was NOT an easy program, but the kids managed to knock it out of the park. They received standing ovations at three different points in the program (after the Bennett, after the Daugherty, and at the very end).

My favorite piece on the program was the Daugherty.

It was a new piece to me, and really challenging for the kids. They all did a fantastic job, but the brass especially got a lot of positive feedback at the conclusion of the concert. Some of their features (such as 12:45) actually gave me goosebumps. It was incredible.

I couldn’t be more proud of what the kids were able to accomplish in only six rehearsals, and I’m looking forward to watching them continue to grow as musicians over the next five weeks.