Thursday, April 28, 2005

Post-Recital Post

It's over. Two weeks ago was my recital, and it is now quite over. It was a very weird feeling at first. I didn't want to blog about it right away, and I didn't listen to the recording for about a week. It was such a huge thing for me, this recital. I played Brahms d minor sonata and Bruch Scottish Fantasy; it was hard repertoire and my first solo recital ever, and for so long I just had this heavy weight on my shoulders, and it was weird when it was suddenly lifted away. All the stress and worry and pressure just dissolved, and in a way, life has been so much nicer ever since, even though new pressures have of course replaced the recital worries since then.

At first, in the first few days after my recital, I hardly knew what to do with myself. Dr. O. told me that evening that I could skip practicing for three days, and do nothing but watch movies if I wanted to. Well that didn't quite work out since I had to play in Jon C's recital and then Sarah H's, but it was still a nice break to not have to really practice. I did watch a couple of movies, too, for the first time in what felt like ages. Sometimes even now I'll just sit in my room and stare at the wall and think how nice it is to not be frantically thinking I should be practicing, or having nightmares about the Bruch being a disaster.

(I'm probably not cut out to be a musician at all. I get so worked up over things, and so worried and nervous.)

So... my recital. That morning I kept crying as I was trying to practice. I had also been sick, which didn't help things; I had a very sore throat and a bit of congestion and a cough and stuff. I was basically in a panic. I practiced for about four hours that morning and skipped my class. My family arrived and then went out and about to find food and stuff to put together a reception for me. Around five I went up to my apartment and put on my recital outfit. I was feeling frantic and I prayed a lot, which really helped. I just laid it all out before God - that I knew I hadn't worked as hard as I could have, but that I also knew I had worked harder than I had ever worked before, and I asked that He would bless my efforts and let me play to the best of my ability and let me communicate the beauty of music to my audience, because really I just wanted them to love such beautiful pieces. I asked also that He would calm my nerves. The amazing thing is, He did just that! I went down to Chase and had Katharine do my hair, and then I went over to Phillips and had about a half hour to warm up again before my recital started at 7:30. By the time I walked out on stage, I felt surprisingly calm. It's not that I wasn't nervous (I was!), but it was like all the panicking had already been done and there was nothing left to do but do my best. My hands didn't shake or sweat, which was a relief, because that often happens and it makes things very difficult.

The Brahms went okay. Not perfect and not perfectly in tune but okay. My teacher and his wife were both pleased with what a big sound I have developed this semester. Then the Bruch, which was also okay. Not great, but okay. I had some memory slips in the third and the fourth movements, and that was disappointing. All that work, and then I just forgot some of the parts I never had problems with before. It's one of the worst and most panicky feelings ever to have a memory slip; it's like time is going both excruciatingly slowly and freakishly fast at the same time. At the time it seemed like I had forgotten 90% of the piece, but of course in retrospect it was only a few measures, and my wonderful wonderful pianist covered for me so that most people didn't even know it had happened. (Dr. O. told me afterwards that I was lucky to have a pianist who could cover for me like that; not everyone can do that so well. I thought to myself, "well then I'd better keep the one I have!")

Now, the day before my recital I had accidentally ripped the callous on my first finger and it had bled. It had formed a little scab on the side of my finger, and it hurt but it wasn't generally a problem. Then, during the last movement, on one of the fast arpeggios I caught the scab and it ripped off and my finger started to hurt SO much and bleed quite a bit. I didn't know what to do with it - wipe it on my clothes, suck on my finger, or just let it get on my fingerboard. During the next rest I decided to just wipe it on my clothes. Anyway, that was an interesting little bit of excitement to add to the last movement.

And then it was finally over.

All of my friends are wonderful; so many people came and encouraged me, and I got flowers from my family and from Cara and from the girls in my apartment and from my two little students, and I got some wonderful cards that are now all sitting on my desk where I look at them fondly from time to time, and I got one super cool sign from Sarah K. that said "Go Sarah!" which she cleverly affixed to the inside of the green room door to give me a boost of confidence each time I entered the recital hall. Also, Julia, a student of Mr. B's at NEC, sent me a mix CD of the Scottish tunes the Scottish Fantasy is based upon, and also a bar of chocolate and a good luck note. How nice is that? It was a nice feeling to have so many friends caring about me and supporting me by coming to my recital. Everyone said such nice things as they greeted me afterwards, and several people said I made them cry (!!!). My teacher and his wife seemed pleased and proud, I think. My parents and grandparents were very happy and proud I think, and my little brother keeps telling me again and again "you are so awesome at the violin!" Dr. B. and Mrs. D. adjudicated the recital, and they both told me I passed "with flying colors."

Also noteworthy is the cool fact that I had to go back out on stage for two more extra bows, and I got a standing ovation. *sheepish grin* And that like never happens at student recitals, at least not much. So I felt really amazingly flattered and honored and blessed by the people who came.

Also, my cute little students came with their father, and he told me "Laura tells me that your pinky did not stay on your bow all the time!" I laughed. Whoops, caught in the act.

Dustin took some pictures with his awesome camera during the recital (no flash, of course). I love them, and here are a few of them for your viewing enjoyment. I hope you like them.

And here is me afterward with my poor finger:

After it was all over I just crashed. I had been fighting off being sick, and as soon as all the stress was gone, I fell apart. I completely lost my voice that same night and started hacking up a lung. By the next morning I could barely squeak out words; it was completely pathetic and hilarious at the same time. I didn't even mind being sick because I was so relieved to not have to worry about playing that crazy Scottish Fantasy anymore. The only thing that was sad was that I couldn't go out and about with my family much that weekend because I was feeling so under the weather.

In summary, I am so glad it is over, and I really should change my major to something that doesn't require me to perform because I'm obviously not the sort of person who ought to perform because I get so stressed out about it. Also in summary, I am lucky, and oh-so-blessed. Also, I have a great best friend who is my wonderful accompanist as well as my FavoriteBoy, and he makes me happy.

Now this Sunday I will be playing the Bach double concerto with Melissa with our orchestra here. Come if you want to!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tomorrow is the big day.

Don't worry about your recital. Mom and I are just totally dazzled that you can even hold the thing right, much less play it so well. You've been given a lot of talent, so just hang in there, your recital is going to be great and Mom and I will be too proud for words. I just hope I don't embarrass you by blubbering like some wacko Dad out of 'The Music Man.'

Love you lots and lots,

I had a lesson tonight, and my teacher sat with his eyes shut and beamed from ear to ear while I played the Scottish Fantasy pretty much straight through. I feel somewhat unprepared, and there are parts that are still rough, but he said he's proud and it's the best work I've ever done so far, and he thinks I'm very well prepared to do a good job tomorrow. I sure hope he's right.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

My brother-in-law has posted the story of my nephew's arrival.

I am delighted to hear that your patient's age and profession make it possible, but by no means certain, that he will be called up for military service. We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.

Your affectionate Uncle,

I would like to confess a bit of very bad theology on my part. Here goes: I feel like God wants to make my recital a real disaster, to teach me a lesson because I haven't worked hard enough or practiced diligently enough. Daddy says that God blesses us most when we deserve it least, but I can't get over feeling like I'm so so lazy and God will punish me in a way, by making my recital dreadful. Anyway... this passage is interesting because my mind is filled with suspense and anxiety (and not just about my recital, either... about my future in many, many respects) about what will happen to me, but also about what I do. Practice, practice, practice... why am I not practicing right now? Because I came down with a dreadful sore throat yesterday and I'm taking it easy right now... but I should be practicing. Why am I so lazy? I need to be more in control of my life. I should be more organized and prepared. Or maybe I need to stop worrying about it and kick Wormwood and Screwtape right out of my mind and let Jesus in.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope;
His compassions fail not; they are new every morning.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Here is another poster I have made (with much help from FavoriteBoy) to spread the news of my recital. I go back and forth between wanting lots of people to come and wanting no one to come. Um, I'm nervous.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

I am officially an aunt! My neiphew has finally entered the world, and it is a he, and my neiphew is really my nephew! His name is Jonathan Phineas Moothart, and he was born in the wee hours of Friday morning, April 8, at 12:03 am. Mom called me at 3:30 my time (12:30 in CA) to tell me all about it. He's 6 lbs, 13.5 oz, and Mom says he's a beautiful baby. After Mom hung up, I cried because it suddenly became real that there's a very alive little baby boy out there in California, and he's my sister's son, and I won't get to see him until late May at the earliest. Then Libby posted pictures on her blog, and I got even more jealous! Anyway, today Mom sent me pictures, and sure enough, he's gorgeous and perfect. Here's one of the pictures that Mom sent me.

Isn't he cute?

Thursday, April 7, 2005

One week from today will be the day of my junior recital. I have made posters and this is what they look like:

I hope you all like it.

P.S. Jeremy Begbie spoke in chapel and he is wonderful.

Monday, April 4, 2005

Okay, I'm finally posting something.

Let's see... I suppose an update is in order, since I haven't really written since before spring break and choir tour.

First item on the update list: Choir tour

Choir tour was pretty good. All the host homes I stayed in were really great - Betty from FavoriteBoy's church, the Coca-Cola family in Michigan, and the Wheaton family with two adorable little girls - and I ended up with pretty cool roommates, too - on various nights I was with Jaana, Cara, Holly, and Lindsey. Home stays were fun things, and lots of good conversations took place. (And I won't mention to anyone that Cara kicks in bed!! Haha!)

We went to FavoriteBoy's church in Erie, PA, and it's the most beautiful church EVER. I saw his dad again, and met his mom briefly. The concert that night was fun... but apparently people kept asking choir members, "which one is Nathan's girlfriend?"; I felt a little awkward. Heh.

Bus rides were fun, but very long. Being a person who needs time alone, I'd say the tour was a little difficult in that respect. But I did enjoy spending time with people. I hung out with Nathan most of the time (of course), and also spent some quality time with Cara and Gregg. One day of the tour Nathan and I went on the van with the brass players, and that was an experience! It was really, really fun. We laughed a lot and sang a lot of Sunday School songs and had a great time.

We were at College Church in Wheaton, and I had about an hour of free time, during which of course I walked through the Wheaton campus again. It was bittersweet. FavoriteBoy came with me, and listened to me ramble about all my memories from Wheaton. A lot of things were just as I remembered them, but there were new things, too - the Beamer center, of course, and a new plaza thing near Saga. Everything was locked up for Spring break; I wished I could have walked into Saga and the Conservatory, just for old times' sake.

We went to Chicago for an afternoon. We mostly just wandered around a lot. I went to the Gap with Cara and Nathan, and to the Chicago Symphony store, where I bought Jaana a cute magnet of a trombone. That evening we all ate at Burghoff's - music department's treat! Fun times. My dinner was dee-li-shus!! Another night we went to Cracker Barrell for dinner, and that was pretty great, too. So all in all, tour was fun. Our concerts were pretty good, and we did some workshops in schools that were really enjoyable. Bus rides were long, hotel stays on the way back were alternately creepy and fun, and having to stop for coffee for the addicts every few hours was very annoying. And that is the summary of Spring Choir Tour 2005.

Second item on the update list: You learn something new every day...

...and shortly after returning from choir tour, I learned that drinking three martinis and half a beer in one night can make you feel a little bit, well... different.

Third item on the update list: Tenebrae

The whole Tenebrae was disorganized craziness. Well, whatever... we all survived, and it's over. In the midst of all the insanity, it was meaningful, too. A little blonde girl read the following poem:

Brier: Good Friday

Because, dear Christ, your tender, wounded arm
Bends back the brier that edges life's long way,
That no hurt comes to heart, to soul no harm,
I do not feel the thorns so much to-day.
Because I never knew your care to tire,
Your hand to weary guiding me aright,
Because you walk before and crush the brier,
It does not pierce my feet so much to-night.
Because so often you have hearkened to
My selfish prayers, I ask but one thing now,
That these harsh hands of mine add not unto
The crown of thorns upon your bleeding brow.

E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913)

(I cried. Both nights. I also cried when the chamber singers sang O Sacred Head Now Wounded. It was beautiful.)

And in the end, I realized that the real problem I felt with the composition we premiered was just this: there seemed to be no concept of text-painting in the music itself. It was cool to use the seven modes for the seven interlocking stanzas by Donne, and it was cool to go from darkest to brightest mode as the narrator comes to a new understanding of the line: "Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise." However, the music itself didn't fit with the poetry of Donne at all, at least not to my ear. That said, I suppose I appreciate the intellectual basis behind the work to some degree.

Fourth item on the update list: Easter

Okay, readers... get ready to laugh. I went to FavoriteBoy's house for Easter. Unfortunately, I woke up on Good Friday, the morning we were to leave for his house... and I was throwing up. I called FavoriteBoy, but he insisted that I come anyway, since he and his mom could take care of me, and I'd probably feel better the next day, and I shouldn't spend Easter alone in my room. After throwing up about three more times, I made my way through the shower and the final stages of packing and ventured out of my room and into the outside world, still sick to my stomach and feeling dreadful. I threw up in Andrew's car on the way to the airport. I threw up in the airport terminal at least three times (in the bathroom of the airport, I mean!), I threw up on the plane about five times, I threw up in the airport when we arrived in Cleveland, and I threw up in Dustin's family's van on the way to Erie. All the while, FavoriteBoy was sitting beside me holding the bucket into which I barfed. As my brother said, "that's devotion." And every time I puked in the airplane, he'd get up and wash out the bucket and come back to my side again. I was so grateful. Anyway, the best part is yet to come. As I said, Dustin's family picked us up in Cleveland and drove us to Erie. We pulled up in FavoriteBoy's driveway, I stepped out of the van, his parents came to the door to say hello and welcome... and I grabbed the bucket from Nathan and puked in their driveway.

Yes, this really happened. Can you possibly imagine a worse meet-the-parents experience? Anyway, they were very kind and gracious and wonderful, and helped me settle into the guest room, where Nathan sat with me for the rest of the day, being wonderful... which is what he does best, of course. When I felt up to it, I called my mom to relay the horror of the whole dreadful experience, and she promised me that someday I'd be able to laugh about it. At the time I felt so embarassed I only wanted to cry... but she was right... it's just a few weeks later, and I already do feel like it was pretty funny, really.

But the best part of Easter was Easter itself. I was better, and we went to church, and it was the most beautiful church I've ever been to. The whole front of the church was covered in daffodils and Easter Lilies, and the church choir plus youth choir plus handbell choir plus a brass ensemble plus organ did Christ the Lord is Risen Today (well, their hymnal has Jesus Christ is Risen Today, actually, but it was still great) and I was so perfect that I was just all choked up with love for my Savior and the joy of Easter. And at the end of the service, they did the Hallelujah chorus with members of the congregation invited to go up front and sing, so naturally FavoriteBoy and I went up to sing it, and it was glorious. FavoriteBoy's church is the coolest church EVER.

Fifth item on the update list: roommate

Well, I've had at least five different offers and opportunities for roommate/apartment situations for next year, but I've finally settled on the one that I think will be best for me. I'll be roomming with Cara, my friend and fellow violinist! We'll be living in Chase, which is a dorm... so it'll be weird to go from my apartment this year back to a dorm, but I'm actually excited about the whole thing. We'll have fun times. Yay!

Final item on the update list: my recital

April 14. 7:30 pm. Phillips Recital Hall. April 14 is really soon. And I'm really scared. Tonight FavoriteBoy helped me start making some posters. He also videotaped me playing so that I can finish up my application to Credo. I'm not ready for my recital at all. When I even think about it, I have this scared, panicked feeling in my tummy. Lately I feel this way a lot - I can play the violin okay, but when I think about it, I realize that I don't really know how in the heck I play that thing. It's so difficult... how do I know, really know, where my fingers go? I mean, when it comes right down to it, I could get nervous, my muscle memory could fail me completely, and I'd be left standing on the stage, holding this piece of wood and this second piece of wood with some horsehair strung across it, and not knowing what in the heck to do with it. I don't have this cognitive grasp of playing the violin completely within my grasp. It's a scary thought, thinking that I know how to do something, but at a certain point, I'm not sure how I know how to do it.

Also, I can't play all my repertoire yet. And yes, I am terrified.

Speaking of music, in other news, my teacher has been in rare form lately. In chamber music last week, he was saying the most hilarious things... "I was sitting next to someone playing the largest viola in captivity..." Haha!

Also, when my teacher and I recently talked about future plans such as grad school, he told me that I have the capability to be a "convincing and engaging performer" - or something like that. I wish I could remember his exact words, because they made me really happy. Oh well. The point is, he doesn't think I suck!

Also, I finally got my bow rehaired. Yay!

And finally, I've had good times with FavoriteBoy lately. He helps me practice for my recital. I'm so blessed... and I don't deserve it even a teeny bit.