On Tuesday, May 31, I performed on the cello in public for the very first time. My teacher, the lovely Ms. Ronda Armstrong, orchestrated a charming little recital for her music students in the library of the Stratford Montessori School in Nashville's Donelson area. There were three very young piano students and two adult cello students who performed.
Before the recital started, we did a quick practice in Ms. Armstrongs music room, and I totally bombed on every piece. Thankfully, I've always accepted this as a good omen. I always wind up playing well when this happens. I guess I just needed to get all the nerves calmed down and ironed out.
After the practice, all five of us walked in singe-file line to the library. We sat in the back, and before too long, the show began. On the piano, all the kids that played were just adorable. Jordan Widener played "Donkey" and "It's Halloween". Sam Crow played "Minuet and Trio" and "I've Been Wishing". Later on, Bella Dobson performed "German Folk Song" and "Kangaroo Family". Watching them reminded me of a couple of piano recitals that I did when I was young. I hope all of them continue to perform music in one way or the other. It's just a fun skill to have even if you don't do it professionally.
Then, it was time for the cellists to play. I was on first and played two solo pieces ("Go Tell Aunt Rodie" and "May Song") while Ms. Ronda accompanied me on the piano. Here's a photo. (There's a look of determined Asian concentration on my face.)
Thankfully, I didn't bomb at all. Both pieces went smoothly. There were a couple of things I wanted to improve upon but aside from that I was pleased with what I did. Then, my friend and fellow cello student Caroline Cameron came up. She played "Andantino" and "The Happy Famer" splendidly.
At the very end, Caroline and I performed the beautiful "Rigadoon" together.
Overall it was a memorable experience. We all ate cookies and punch and chatted a good bit afterwards. My Mom and I treated ourselves to some yummy Mexican food after we left.
Of course, we took a group photo. Pictured below from left to right are The Asian, Caroline Cameron, Jordan Widener, Sam Crow, Ronda Armstrong, and Bella Dobson . . .
My teacher informed me afterwards that we will do another recital at some point in time. I hope to become an even better cellist until then, and someday, it will become a permanent fixture at my shows.
Someday . . .
It was one of the best shows I've EVER seen. One of my favorite music acts of all time performed their first show in Atlanta, and I was there to witness it at the Variety Playhouse in the Little Five Points district. This winter, they have embarked on a larger than usual US and European tour to promote the new album 'The Crying Light'. Here is the beautiful and haunting album cover: My friend Chris, who lives in Charlotte, NC, suggested back in December that we see this show the minute he saw the tour dates posted. I am a HUGE fan of Antony and the Johnsons. (You might even hear Antony's influence in my own music. ) Due to financial constraints, I don't usually plan big trips just to see a show, but this was different. I felt that this was something I would regret if I didn't do it. So, I saved up a little stash of cash and was able to head down to Atlanta, Georgia last Saturday morning. I didn't know then that I was in for one of the most amazing concert experiences of my life. Built on solid musicianship and the unmistakable voice and emotion of Antony, the performance was a subtle and understated tour de force in front of a full venue. (It gave me a template of how I hope to do my shows in the future.) There is no one out there even remotely like Antony and the Johnsons. Quite obviously, I love this band largely because their lead singer is also a piano player. He sat at a grand piano offering up delicate little flourishes the whole night--adding nuance, lightness, and grace to a lot of the darker themes in his heartfelt music. His band was equipped with two violinists, one cello, acoustic guitar, a horn player (I couldn't see what kind.), drums, bass, and a wind instrument of some sort. Antony gave such a stirring performance all the while leading his band of musicians to these euphoric and mournful places. It really was so enchanting. I think I also managed to get the best seat in the house. Front row, at the very left corner. My view was of Antony sitting at the piano directly in front of me at a distance of about 15 feet. This was an experience I will never forget. After the show, about thirty or so fans, myself included, waited by his tour bus and got to meet him. He was very friendly and willing to talk to everyone. I gave him a copy of my album "Seahorses" in exchange for an autograph on his cd . . . Here is a picture of Antony just a few feet away from me after the show: Here's a promo shot for a better idea of who I am talking about: I still can't believe I got to meet him. Life can be so extraordinary. Antony is a rare and delicate gem of an artist. What he does is just so uniquely beautiful--an exotic flavor that tastes strange at first but unleashes its richness in soft, undulating waves. Here is a youtube video with my favorite song off the new album (so far). I present to you 'Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground' . . . [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j688ELeNC3Y] Here is the new official video for another song from 'The Crying Light". It's called 'Epilepsy Is Dancing' . . . [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-leFj7DWn1Y] I need to sit with this new album a while longer, but I will give it a full review within the next couple of weeks. I love Antony and the Johnsons. If he is performing in a town near you, just go. It will be a show you will remember forever. My niece just woke up. She beckons. -g
Classical music concerts are one of my favorite places to think. It sounds weird, but classical music provides just enough stimulation to keep me from becoming distracted, but not enough stimulation to impact my thinking processes. I love being able to drift from absorbing and enjoying the music to going deep in thought without really even noticing.
My violin teacher (who's great, by the way, in case you're in SF and want to learn Violin) brought me to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music last week and told me that they had free concerts by the students all the time. Perfect. Despite really enjoying the music, I'm way too ignorant to be able to tell the difference between a good student and a professional symphony player, so these shows are really a great opportunity.
On Monday I went to Matthew Linaman's (http://www.youtube.com/user/cellolinaman) cello recital at the conservatory. Have you ever noticed that people often won't take front row seats if they haven't paid for a ticket? I've noticed this at a lot of talks and smaller concerts like this. Anyway, the point is that I got to sit in the very middle of the front, and this was a small enough hall that this seat was the best seat. Most of the front row seats remained empty.
Beyond his playing (which was fantastic, by the way), I kept thinking about his Cello, Cellos in general, and stringed instruments in general. Cellos last. They get better. The craftsmanship on a good Cello, probably even an okay cello, is remarkable. I have a violin that my sister gave me, and I find myself marveling at the curves of the wood, the perfect symmetry, and the invisible joints holding it all together. It's amazing, really.