The title is a reference to "the long 19th century," which points out the more natural boundaries of 1789 (the French Revolution) and 1914 (the start of WWI). My long October begins with 9/22 and ends on 11/3. Those dates are, respectively, when I decided to audition for the concertmaster opening of the Louisville Orchestra, and the day I arrived home from Louisville. Spoiler alert: LO still does not have a concertmaster. HOWEVER, looking back at this crazy month, I'm still proud of what I accomplished. If you read to the end of this, maybe you'll agree.
9/22 was the day that I received a message from Nick Finch, principal cellist of LO, telling me about the upcoming concertmaster audition. Unbeknownst to Nick, I was aware of the opening and had in fact submitted my resume--but had also decided that October was just too busy. If I have a weakness, it is that I am too easily convinced to take on more work, and Nick's message pushed me back toward the audition.
At the time, I was on tour with the ambient electronic drone music duo (is that enough qualifiers?) Stars of the Lid. That was a somewhat new experience itself: traveling in a van, playing for screaming crowds, and being almost deafened by enormous amps. Although I can't say that my technical chops were challenged, I did find that focusing on the long, sustained notes almost meditative. In that sense, their music bore a similarity to Somei Satoh's music.
Did I mention that my dissertation (on Somei's music) was due this month? More on that later.
As soon as I returned home from that tour, I had to resume practicing Giacinto Scelsi's Anahit. I couldn't practice the piece on tour, because it required not only an unusually tuned violin, but a violin with two A-strings. Bottom to top, the strings were tuned G G B D (for those familiar with scientific notation, G3 G4 B4 D5.) Therefore I needed two violins, if I wanted to practice/perform non-Anahit repertoire. Luckily, Klaus Grumpelt, a contemporary German luthier, happened to have loaned me one of his violins this summer. Thanks, Klaus!
While my initial attempts at Anahit drove Nana up the wall, I had actually grown to like the music by the time of the first rehearsal on 10/2. It was great to work once more with maestro Jeffrey Milarsky, with whom I premiered Sayo Kosugi's Lilac Nova in 2013--and great to see Sayo again, who just happened to be in New York! (She currently resides in Tokyo.) It is always a thrill to play onstage with a group of Juilliard musicians supporting you, and also rather nice to have a dressing room all to yourself!
I try to keep myself in good shape for performances, especially when it comes to sleep. After the AXIOM concert on 10/10, sleep went out the window. The deadline for the first draft of my dissertation was 10/16, and there were still 3 pieces that I needed to analyze. Unfortunately, I had also booked that week full of gigs, rehearsals, and even a photo shoot! And did I mention that I was preparing for an audition? Dissertation work began around midnight, and ended around 5 or 6am, at which point I would grab as many hours of sleep before I had to be at school at 9 or 10am that same day.
Rehearsals for American Gothic had been on-and-off since August, but they were on in earnest starting 10/12. We had rehearsal almost every day, culminating in three performances, on 10/21, 22, and 23. I actually missed the 10/16 deadline of my dissertation, though with Joel Sachs's blessing--he preferred me to take a little longer, and submit a higher quality work. I finally got a copy of it to him on 10/23. Also that day: my first Baroque violin lesson with Robert Mealy.
10/24: Day 1 of hardcore orchestra audition prep. A little late? Yep. It's not like I had completely neglected the repertoire, but you can see that I wasn't exactly focused on it for most of October. Nevertheless, I told Nana that I probably wouldn't be home until late, every night until I left for Louisville.
From 10/24-31, I was completely focused on audition prep. Except for recording Nana's concert on 10/25, teaching a music history class on madrigals on 10/27 (the teaching doesn't take long, but the prep does), and another Baroque lesson on 10/28. Plus my usual responsibilities of TF-ing, tutoring, and MAP-ing. I usually got home around 10 or 11pm, and then was back at school at 9 or 10am because that's when my responsibilities begin. The one break I took was on Friday, 10/30--my left hand grew tired from too much Schumann and Adams, so I broke off the practicing at 9pm to hang out with Jeff and Janice (my brother and his girlfriend.)
Stay tuned for Part II!