Friday, October 14, 2011

City of Tomorrow Master Class

A couple of weeks ago, my piano Trio played for City of Tomorrow, last year's winner of the wind division of the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition.  It was a good experience.  They gave us feedback about a number useful things when playing chamber music.

We played the first movement of the Mozart Kegelstatt Trio for viola, clarinet and piano, and they had a number of comments to make about how we could improve our performance.  One thing was the turns that happen many times throughout the piece need to all be exactly the same no matter who is playing them.  They also talked a lot about the style of playing Mozart, and how it should be very even and very lyrical.  In a way Mozart can be harder than more complicated pieces, because everything has to be perfect or it really stands out.

They talked a lot about communication.  They said we should look at each other more, which, of course we know, but we don't always remember to do as much as we should.  They pointed out that we should look like we are enjoying each other's performance of their parts, as the audience will pick up on how we view each other.  That was something I haven't heard very often and a really good point.

Playing for City of Tomorrow was a great experience.  I hope shows in our performance on Sunday.

City of Tomorrow

The city of tomorrow is a wonderful woodwind quintet who were awarded the first prize of the wind division for the 2011 Fischoff National Chamber Competition.  The members consist of flutist Elise Blatchford, oboist Andrew Nogal, bassoonist Amanda Swain, clarinetist Camila Barientos, and hornist Leander Star.I saw them perform at MYA’s Music at the Fort Concert Series. It was an outstanding performance, one of the best chamber concerts I have ever seen. 
They opened with Summer Music by Samuel Barber.  They dominated the first part with their expressive playing.  I especially like the runs in the flute, clarinet, and bassoon.  They did not seem forced at all, just flowing out like it was the easiest thing in the world.  The transitions between the different sections in the piece was flawless.  It starts out very smooth and flowing.  The second section is repetitive and angry.  The third section is pure bliss, with hopping sixteenth notes everywhere.   There are many more sections and all of them have to be very played differently.  They didn’t enjoy this piece as much as they enjoyed other pieces but this was my personal favorite of all the pieces they played. 
The next piece they played was wind quintet number 4 for George Perle.  I didn’t like this piece as much as some of the others but the quintet did.  You could see in their faces and body movement that they liked this one the best.  It is an extremely modern piece with a muddle of the instruments in the first movement.  The second movement starts with the French horn playing quick notes and the clarinet comes in with a few notes here, a few notes there, nothing consistent.  The clarinet is soon followed by the rest of the group.
The last piece of the concert was David Maslanka’s third wind quintet.  This piece is supposedly based on themes Bach.  It was bewildering, how well they played together in all the pieces, but especially this one, I really noticed their communication.  I loved their musicality.  I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with their performance of this piece if I tried.  I hope I get a group which can play this well someday.  They finished the concert with this colossal performance.
This was an awe-inspiring chamber performance.  I am very happy that I got a chance to see the City of Tomorrow play.  I hope I get to see them again some day!