As I said in a post at the beginning of my sabbatical, one of the goals I set for myself during this year was to find some groups to play music with. Over the summer I got back into playing my flute, which I hadn’t played in over 20 years, and also started practicing the piano again after a few years of being so crazy-busy with school and teaching that I hadn’t really played much at all.
Now that the semester has started at Loyola, I’ve started playing with the chamber ensemble, an enthusiastic–if small, and motley– group that gets together on Tuesday afternoons. It’s 6 students (3 flute players, a clarinet, a pianist, and a violist), me on the flute and piano, and Maria, from the advising office, playing the cello. You can imagine what this must be like. Half of us play the flute!! But this is not unusual. I’m not sure why so many girls end up playing the flute. Speaking for myself, I can only attribute my “choice” of instrument to my parents’–my dad’s, really–sexism. I loved my Dad but he definitely had ideas about what girls ought to be doing. Anyway, Emily, one of the young women in the ensemble, told me that they had six flute players last semester! Now that is just more flutes than anyone needs. Ever.
David, also a flutist, coaches the ensemble. Perhaps anticipating the surfeit of flute players, he mentioned to me that the students would get “first dibs” on parts–a plan I totally agreed with.
As a result, right now I am mostly playing the piano. But it’s really fun. Playing music by yourself is therapeutic and relaxing and all, but playing with other people gets the blood going. I guess this is why people sing in choir (or church, generally), and form rock bands in high school and college. Sharing music, listening to and working off one another, creating a sound by combining parts–it is a reminder that humans are social beings.
One thing I really like about David’s coaching is that he is not afraid to give us music that really pushes us–both technically and musically. Right now I am working most on a piece by a composer I’d never heard of before this semester, Bohuslav Martinú (1890-1959). He was a Czech composer, quite prolific, and apparently really well known … to those in the know, apparently! Anyway, Maria, a lovely flutist named Jillian, and I are playing the second movement (Adagio) of his Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano, H.300. It was kind of hard to figure out at first, but the more I play it, the more I love it. (This is often the case with contemporary classical music.) Here’s the George Crumb Trio playing the piece:
Martinú adopted an approach similar to that of Igor Stravinsky, so the music may strike you as rather atonal and difficult to follow. I am really growing to love this piece, though. We had our first rehearsal of the piece on Tuesday, and it is already starting to sound like something! We’ll see if we can pull it together for the end-of-semester recital.
I may also be playing the Debussy Sonata for Cello and Piano with Maria. Now that would be fun. She’s really good–I am so lucky to have found this common interest with a coworker. Again, here are some professional musicians playing the piece. (Note: I look nothing like the woman in the video when I play. I come from the non-demonstrative school of piano performance.)
Hope you enjoyed that music!
And an update on my research: I finished a draft of a chapter last week! Huzzah! To reward myself, I’m getting my piano tuned for the first time in two (or is that three?) years.
We’re getting the band back together!