July 5, 2011

Brass Alley

I guess I haven't really talked about trumpet much in a while, but I'm glad to report that it seems to be going rather well these days. I leave for AIMS (the Austrian music festival I'll be attending) in less than a week now and with the initial part-assignment audition and the first concert of the festival (which includes Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra) looming in the not-too-distant future, I've stuck to my guns and maintained a fairly demanding practice schedule even though the beauty of the finger lakes region, the attentions of my boyfriend, and the complete Star Trek TNG television series just released on Netflix have all conspired to distract me from my task.

Some mornings I head over to the village park that's just across the street from Rob's complex. It's far enough away from any residences that I feel fine playing out full volume without worrying that I'm driving the neighbors up the wall with my occasionally repetitive routine. And then whenever I take practice breaks I can wander around watching the bugs and the birds and the occasional deer as they go about their morning rituals as well.

Today the lawn was wet with dew and I noticed a number of glistening spider webs draped heavily around blades of recently cut grass...

Here I was actually able to catch a glimpse of the web's architect despite his being very effectively camouflaged within the surrounding vegetation. If you look closely you should see him as well (click on the picture to enlarge it and he's sitting toward the top left corner...slight and gray and nicely hidden)...

About 3 seconds after I took this shot, a little green aphid vaulted in from nowhere and landed in the web. Within moments the spider had it in his grasp and dragged the unfortunate creature into his lair where I'm sure he is still dining happily as we speak.

A few weeks before coming out here I got in touch with the trumpet professor at Ithaca College to inquire about the use of practice rooms at the school. He assured me that if the building was open and the room available, I'd be more than welcome to play there to my heart's content. I also asked if he could put me in touch with any IC students who'd still be in the area for the summer and might be interested in playing some duets/orchestral parts so I'd be able to keep up my "playing together" chops. As a result I've been able to play almost daily with Ethan Urtz, a recent graduate of the college.

When I first learned of IC's existence, I assumed it was just a small community-college-type institution and didn't think any music program there would have much substance. BOY was I wrong! IC's college of music is big, lively, and has a stellar reputation for churning out some truly world class musicians. When I met him a week ago, Ethan introduced me to "Brass Alley"...

...a hallway of primarily large-size chamber-music rooms that the IC brass players have commandeered for the majority of their practicing (If this seems selfish, try to imagine how your head might feel after hours of blasting away in a tiny little room that reflects all that sound straight back at your face...and you're right...it's a little less than pleasant...I think you'd go for the big rooms as well). Ethan and I meet in the alley, snag a room, and for about an hour and a half every day read through a variety of duets, on a variety of trumpets, in a variety of transpositions. He's an excellent player: where my sound and articulation might be a bit more clean, some of his reading and technical abilities surpass mine. It's these kind of complimentary skill sets that make for a satisfyingly challenging and educational duet session. So far were both having a fun and worthwhile time of it!

In addition to all the regular duets, we've also played through some of the rep I'm going to be performing in Graz. In these cases he always plays the 2nd part and I have to step up my game and play like a principal. In all likelihood I'll probably be playing mostly section parts while at AIMS, but it's good practice for me anyway to finally learn the difficult high parts I so typically try to avoid.

Here's a view of the tip of Cayuga Lake from one of the windows in the IC music building...

If you zoom in you can see how thrilled everyone is to be off from work and out sailing in the sunshine.

1 comment:

  1. Great!!!! I'm getting anxious for your trip to Austria. I'm so glad you have such nice facilities and people at your hand to help you! LOVE YOU and miss you SO MUCH!!!!!