I made the trip over to JU yesterday morning, to observe the master class with The Jupiter String Quartet. It was enjoyable, and took me back to my college days 20 years ago. I remembered what it was like to attend master classes, but I also realized I had been away from my musical college experience as long as these kids had been living! Suddenly I felt kinda old! I wasn't sitting with the students this time, I was sitting among the gray hairs! (Which by the way, I found one when I got home!)
The class was constructed around performances by three student groups, a string quartet from UNF, a trio of violin, piano and cello from Douglass Anderson School of the Arts, and a string quartet from JU. Interestingly, the cello from DA was also the cellist that played with the JU "Honors" quartet. I guess he does double duty. Each group played a piece that they've been working on one time through. Then, the Jupiter members jumped into the scene and discussed parts of the piece. They broke it into small sections, asking the players where they thought the phrase was headed, or what was the peak of the phrase, or had they discussed what the mood of the piece was, things of this nature. I couldn't help reflecting back on my days as a student and thinking, they're most likely just aiming to get through it and play well! I was amazed how an area that sounded weak to start, after a few minutes of discussion could grow into such a strong part of the piece with little coaching. It was great to watch these kids grow in their performance, and remember what it was like to be where they were.
After the three groups played, we took a small intermission, then the group Jupiter String Quartet played a few pieces they were playing today at the Cummer. Watching them, I felt myself on the verge of giggling out loud. I was amused at the animation they displayed while playing, and thinking in retrospect, a string player that doesn't move, is not really a very good player typically. The better players are usually big swayers! They were playing a piece by Mendelsohn, and when written, the composer was a very young 17 years old! The piece, as they described it, had an inner urgency, as only a 17 year old could experience. Listening to the music, and watching them play, you could almost see the mood of the piece. I could actually imagine the music rolling around the inner lines of the quartet. As the music passed one particular phrase from one instrument to the other, as if a discussion, you could see the music moving from one instrument to the other. I wonder if it is with maturity of the last 20 years, that I can now see the intensity of the music.
After the class, I chatted a bit with Jeanne, the lady that was gracious enough to forward me information regarding this class. Jeanne is a violinist with the JSO, and holds a prelude chamber music summer camp at JU, and assists young players in the community find a match to play with. She had given me the contact information for Margie, the lady that conducts the JU Orchestra, and a few months ago I'd tried, as well as Jeanne tried on my behalf, to make a contact for me to begin playing with this group. Well, it turns out Margie had a death in the family, and the chaos that seems to follow for a month or so, and my correspondence fell to the wayside. Anyway, I asked Jeanne if she thought it would be appropriate for me to approach Margie today, and she said.. YES, talk to her! So, I made my way over to her, only to find a very rushed woman, who said, yes, she did remember my email, explained the last few months, and said she was really rushed at the moment, could I please send her another email. She also said, as a "formality" and to keep it "fair", she'd want an audition consisting of a prepared solo excerpt, such as a Bach piece, and maybe some sight reading. Okay, no problem...
No problem, until reality set in on the way home, and I realized it's been 20 years since I've had to do an audition. I haven't performed onstage with a group in 20 years. I haven't sat in an orchestra, and read through music in 20 years! These kids, that I'm going to be sitting among, are younger than it's been since I've played in this environment. I don't have a portfolio of pieces that I'm working on, I'll have to do some digging to find something I can play in a reasonably short period of time! I'm now that "old" person sitting within the orchestra filled with kids! I was talking to John last night in bed, and told him, the whole idea of it is exciting, but scares me to death! I used to crank out auditions like a robot! Didn't give them any thought. That's how these kids think. I haven't done this in forever, and it's a whole different game now. "Back then", I was 18 years old, no one in the world to think about but me, school was my job! I didn't have to worry about taking the only family vehicle, and leaving my husband and kids home alone to fend for themselves for dinner and bedtime, while I went to rehearsals. Performing was no big deal. It's what I did. Now, well, now it's different. I have to work practice time into my life, rather than practice time being my life! I have to work it around bath and bedtimes, fixing dinner for the family, and of course, working a full time job! It's something I have to embrace if I want to continue to grow my musical ability back to where it was 20 years ago, but I have to say, it's rather intimidating. Guess I'll have to grab that tiger by the tail!