Posts Tagged ‘Brahms’

Dancing…with courage!

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
Noting a recital flier on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten

Noting a recital flier on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten

Walking onstage to play Brahms concerto in front of a full auditorium? Replacing a soloist on a recital series on one day’s notice? Having a string break in concert? All sound nightmarish–and indeed, the above are the subject of my nightmares. Having endured each, I thought I had been through it all. Enter this month’s dance competition…and a concert horror doesn’t register on the Richter scale.

Earlier in May, I danced in a charity competition called “Dancing With The Celebrities of Pittsburgh”, a regional spinoff of the ABC hit show “Dancing With The Stars”. Each week this spring, I performed a different concerto, recital program, or chamber music – and each paled next to preparing a 3 minute “Paso Doble” routine: a traditional Spanish Toreador (bullfighter) double step. When I met my partner, Sandra, things weren’t looking good. My busy tour schedule, possessing two left feet, and the difficulty of the routine paralyzed me with fear during each of the rehearsals. I don’t have stage fright when it comes to the Franck sonata or Tchaikovsky concerto, but a myriad of fears consumed me: will I look goofy? Will I let Sandra down? Could a dancing injury sideline my concerts? Fast forward to May. Several grueling rehearsals, a spray tan, and one paisley vest later, it was time for the competition. Faced with opening the competition (a position I dreaded), I commenced the routine with a bit of Hubay’s “Carmen Fantasie”, and then settled into the Zorro-type rhythms. After the exciting choreography, and overwhelmed with gratitude for the beautiful Sandra, I realized I had run towards something that had once terrified me…and didn’t fall flat on my face. Who knows – maybe the routine could one day be on the ABC network…but besides that pipe dream, I have a feeling of accomplishment – a feeling that is remarkably different from preparing a concerto.

On a different note, the 12/13 concert season is winding down, and I’m looking forward to this summer’s plans. Concerts this spring in Mississippi, New York City, DC, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Maarten, San Jose, Los Angeles, and others give way to summer festival in PA (The Renova Festival), the Fairbanks Music Festival, the Lakes Area Chamber Music Festival, trips to Chicago and northern Ontario, and perhaps a couple of surprises. On an eclectic note, the new-age CD that I recorded with Sean Dockery (Oprah Winfrey Network music producer) will be available on amazon.com and iTunes by June 1st. Exciting!

Stay cool, attend local symphony concerts this summer, and don’t forget to practice!

Getting bronzed just before taking the stage.

Getting bronzed just before taking the stage.

Life, or something like it…

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Tis the start of a new season – no, not an equinox, but a concert season. So much has happened already this calendar year that my mind is swirling trying to keep it organized. As I write this listening to Julia Fischer’s “Bach Concerti” album, I’m thankful for much that has happened. I had a myriad of touring – Mexico, Canada, eastern Europe, London, Alaska, Australia, and crisscrossing the United States. I played several new concerti (including the Brahms double and Schumann), worked with fantastic colleagues, and did some memorable interviews. One regret – I didn’t join my grandparents at the family home in Ontario this summer. You see, my grandfather died very suddenly on August 21st, following an exciting summer that included my grandparents touring Europe and vacationing at our favorite locale – Lake Penage.

Robert Sords – husband, father, and grandfather – was many things. Patriarch, strict, devoted, generous, sometimes ornery…those come to mind. What else comes to mind is a man who loved attending my concerts and seeing various successes. Bob, as I called him, taught me how to drive a boat, park a car, and be pretty persuasive in business. As the oldest of his eight grandchildren, I loved seeing the various relationships we all had with him – all pretty special, but none held a candle to the 62 years of marriage to my grandmother. They did everything together – the orchestra chorus, gardening, golf, meals out, vacations, and attending various athletic events, concerts, and graduations. I have some pretty spectacular memories of spending summers in Canada with them – bunking up in their room, sauna conversations, fishing, and puttering around the lake. Needless to say, of all of my performances this year, the most difficult one, no question, was playing two Ave Maria’s at his funeral (Caccini and Schubert). A special man – one minute stern, the next, chuckling. I miss him very much.

It’s amazing how as life progresses – priorities change, little things don’t matter as much, and the big picture comes into focus. Career-wise, that is certainly the case this season and with moving forward. I am grateful for being booked up for the next 24 months, for the wonderful colleagues I am privileged to collaborate with, and focusing on repertoire and venues that are important to me. It’s a newfound focus – certainly different from five years ago. Perhaps I will direct interviewers to this particular blog, and then most of their (pertinent and appropriate) questions would be answered.

Yes, this blog was more somber and vulnerable than is my norm – and perhaps reveals some of the craziness that has ensued this year. I am a firm believer in life experiences guiding art and the creative process. If that is to be believed – then the curveballs thrown this year only serve to illuminate the future with more clarity.

Musings from a Modern Troubadour

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Here we are – 2012. The Mayan calendar has created quite a bit of apprehension regarding this year, but I’m excited for what it will bring. I look forward to connecting and meeting with new orchestras, audiences, and fans – and of course, becoming more familiar with different food and cultures (a resolution of mine).

2011 was an invigorating year, musically and otherwise. Some highlights: I began the year in Jacksonville on the EMMA Recital Series with the lovely Anita Pontremoli; spent a week in Austin performing with two orchestras; returned to the Caribbean to perform on the stunning island of Anguilla; made my Toronto concerto debut with Mozart’s “Turkish” concerto; performed the Schumann sonata cycle in recital; made my D.C. recital debut; ¬†was interviewed on “The Derek and Romaine Show” (twice), OUT Pittsburgh, Nevada Public Radio, and numerous other outlets; made further debuts in Atlanta, Virginia, Minnesota, and Mexico; made return appearances to Florida, Carson City, Minneapolis, and Cleveland; and was inspired by several Broadway shows and memorable concerts (including Patti LuPone, Julia Fischer, “Book of Mormon”, and the venerable Cleveland Orchestra). Whew. Certainly, a very memorable year. For further details, you will have to wait for the memoirs!

Currently, I’m on a bit of a hiatus until performing the Brahms double concerto in MN at the end of this month, followed by a Toronto recital and performances of the Brahms concerto in Oakland, Cleveland, and Poland. I will be doing some yoga, continuing my sushi addiction, and getting through the stack of a dozen books on my nightstand. Any suggestions to add to my reading list? Celebrity biographies seem to be the genre du jour. Perhaps I should throw the Sonatas and Partitas into that mix…

I look forward to meeting new fans in the coming weeks, learning new music, and, especially, returning to the Bay Area. I will spend a week in mid-March performing the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Oakland East Bay Symphony and Maestro Morgan, as well as my first performances of the Schumann violin concerto (in its original version) with the Saratoga Symphony. Coincidental putting those two friends on the same weekend? I think not. :)

Happy New Year, and my very best to a healthy, safe and prosperous 2012.

Change is coming…yet, revisiting the new…

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

It has been a very long time since I last blogged – this little thing called violin and career have gotten in the way. As the season winds down to a close, I wanted to check in and write about future plans and the most recent concert year.

And what a year it has been! Since the New Year, I have been in Jacksonville, New York City, Toronto, Austin, Anguilla, central Ohio, Carson City, St. Augustine, Atlanta, western Virginia, Kansas City, and everywhere in between. Next month, I’m in Arkansas and Texas, and will play chamber music in Minnesota at the end of the summer. Many frequent flier miles later, I will be able to sleep in, read celebrity autobiographies, and PLAN NEW REPERTOIRE. Yes, you heard me. During the 2012/13 season, I am committing myself to new repertoire by Prokofiev, Barber, Schumann, Suk, Shostakovich, Korngold, and others. After several seasons of the “standards”, “classics”, “warhorses”, and other such adjectives thrown about by venues, I am expanding my repertoire and growth on this instrument. Anyone disappointed? Probably not. :)

Next season, I will be making several international debuts, as well as revisiting orchestras with whom I’ve already played. Next year will mark the 100th orchestra I have performed with…and I feel very blessed that I have maintained relationships with nearly all of them. The 2011/12 schedule will be posted sometime this summer…but I can reveal that the Brahms violin concerto and Schumann sonata cycle are dominating the season.

This summer, I will be taking much needed vacations – one to Canada and another to New England. Some bonding with nature and R&R shall do the body (and violin) good! Perhaps I be back out on the tennis courts and swimming pool – but not if we have another 12 days of consecutive rain here in Cleveland. You’d think I live in Seattle. Anyway, I digress…

Hope all of you have having a terrific spring, and I look forward to seeing you at concerts next season! Stay tuned for concert dates, repertoire, and more frequently updated blogs! Til then…