Flute/Light Project Video 1: Anna Meadors’ At Daybreak

Dissertation Recording Session No. 1, PC: Ben Singer.

Graduation. It’s coming, and time is flying as relentlessly as ever! In less than a month, I’ll be “commencing” post-degree life for a third time. And then, I’ll officially be able to put two letters in front of my name: D-R.

I’m feeling a bit sentimental, so I’m going to share what I’ve been working on for the last year and a half. Well, okay. Really, I’m just plain excited about what I’ve been doing, and I’m going to burst soon if I don’t share it.

Way back in middle school, tiny Krisztina was given her first taste of intermedia art. I’ve been addicted ever since. When the time came to ponder my dissertation topic, it was only natural for me to think: intermedia.

What’s intermedia art, you ask? A fine question! Very simply, it’s the integration of diverse artistic mediums. See my flute/light project intro video for a more thorough explanation, here!

Fast-forward through some life experience, performance opportunities, and research; and I had narrowed my field of study to two specific mediums: sound and light. Then, back in February 2016, I began my flute/light commission project.

Sound and light—both are manifestations of kinetic energy. A great deal can be observed about them: their frequencies, amplitudes, velocities. Their union is found in thunder and lighting, electricity, and even black holes. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a world without them! But Aristotelian questions remain: What is the essence of energy, sound, and light? This mystery fills me with tremulous wonder when I listen to a Brahms symphony or observe the stars; and I am compelled that it is this very mystery that lends sound and light their dramatic power in the arts.

This blog post is No. 1 in a series of five video releases that mark the culmination of my flute/light project! The first? Anna MeadorsAt Daybreak for flute, percussion, and lighting.

Anna’s piece is the origin story of light, as told by Italo Calvino in “At Daybreak” from Cosmicomics. The music and light work in synergy to portray a nebulous opening, followed by a condensing of the nebulous matter, the sudden creation of light, and its disappearance at nightfall. Because there is lighting throughout the piece, I always find myself anticipating the dramatic moment when THE light will burst into the story.

We were all burning in the fire. Or rather: we weren’t burning, we were immersed in it as in a dazzling forest; the flames shot high over the whole surface of the planet, a fiery air in which we could run and float and fly, and we were gripped with a new joy (Italo Calvino, from “At Daybreak”).

All video footage for At Daybreak was recorded in Brown Building Theatre at the University of North Carolina Greensboro on December 3, 2016. I was assisted by percussionist Erik Schmidt and lighting technician Katherine Ward. The cinematic video was created by audio and visual team Wayne Reich and Ben Singer. I can’t begin to say how thankful I am to each of them for their contributions to the project!

Wayne has published a blog post on his website about the video production of At Daybreak with cool pictures of the editing process! Check it out here.

Stay tuned for more videos, and thanks for reading!

Zoltán Kodály, “Song” from the Háry János Suite.

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With the Kodaly statue in Pecs, Hungary, during my studies at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.

Fifty years after his death, the name “Zoltán Kodály” has spread worldwide, conjuring up thoughts of music pedagogy and solfege. Many don’t realize that he was also a linguist, a philosopher, an ethnomusicologist—and a brilliant composer. One of the first CDs I ever owned included a piece that is still very dear to me: Kodály’s Dances from Marosszék (Marosszéki Táncok). Even then, I was captivated by the deeply lyrical quality of Kodály’s music, his colorful orchestrations, and the magical way his music evokes both longing and hope.

Back in 2010, I received a grant to arrange music for a small chamber ensemble with unconventional instrumentation. Hoping to familiarize more Westerners with Kodály’s music, I chose to arrange a movement from his Háry János Suite: “Song” (or, “Dal,” in Hungarian). Originally from Kodály’s Háry János, a singspiel about the tall-tales of a hussar, the lyrics of “Song” express Háry János’ tender longing to be home with those he loves.

The recording below features Asher Carlson (clarinet), Leonardo Ottoni do Rosario (violin), Emily Damrel (double bass), and Rachel AuBuchon (prepared piano). It was recorded on April 30, 2016, and edited by Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf, with additional help from Ben Singer.

 

 

Motivating Student Practice.

As important as Aristotle’s laws of motion are to the development of modern physics, somehow, they are humorous.  Newton’s first law of motion is merely a more precise restatement of Aristotle’s ideas: an object in a particular state of motion will continue in that state of motion unless an outside force influences it.  However, Aristotle called this altered status of motion “forced” or “violent;” moreover, he believed that all objects had inherent, measurable resistance to such forced motion.  Some of what Aristotle observed is now understood to be what is indeed called resistance, friction, and drag; but Aristotle’s language creates an amusing picture of inanimate objects with wills to remain inert, resisting motion until coerced.

We could say that this picture is a rather uncanny illustration of a type of student—the type that never seems to practice, despite their teacher’s best efforts.  These are unmotivated students who come to their lessons week after week, only prepared with excuses.  If we’re honest, however, we might admit that this metaphor could be used to describe anyone (including ourselves!) in a wide variety of situations.

Over the last year, I have spent some time seeking to better understand both the stimulation of self-motivation and the teacher-student relationship as it pertains to responsibility.  For now, I have concluded:

TEACHER’S RESPONSIBILITY: To guide the student into a cycle of work and achievement (related to attribution theory in psychology).
STUDENT’S RESPONSIBILITY: To implement the short-term goals assigned by the teacher.

My studies resulted in a “How to Practice” Workshop at the Community Music School of UNC School of the Arts (see the video below), as well as in a list of potential motivational methods that can be directly applied to practicing.

© 2016 Krisztina Dér.  All rights reserved.

The Absent-Minded Professor

It has happened.  In September, one IMG_6611of my professors passed my name along to the Chair of the Music Department at Guilford College.  The result: I have been working as a “Part-time Lecturer of Music, Flute” this semester.  My family’s prophesies destining me as a lovable (albeit soporific) Prof. have been fulfilled!  And that’s not even counting the times I have inadvertently mismatched my socks!

Other news includes competing at the semifinals of the inaugural Raleigh Area Flute Association’s (RAFA’s) Artist Competition.  They selected six semifinalists total; I was honored to be there, learned a thing or two about my repertoire choices, and look forward to applying again next year.  Recordings from the preliminary round are forthcoming!

In the upcoming months, I’ll be competing in the final round of UNCG’s Student Artist Competition, preparing for the second of my three doctoral recitals, teaching (UNCG secondaries, UNCSA CMS, and Guilford), playing in Fayetteville, studying for comprehensive exams, researching for the dissertation (more info on my research topic coming soon!), finishing up the majority of my classwork, and (I hope) breathing.  For now at least, in the interim between semesters, there’s a bit of time to catch my breath– so stay tuned for more updates, recordings, and musings!

 

[Throwbacks.] The 41st Annual National Flute Association Convention.

I feel duty-bound to write about my time NFA Convention Bookas Assistant Program Chair for the National Flute Association.  Yes, my time has been scarce; but that is not the only reason I have put it off for over two years.  Somehow, I haven’t known how to write about such an enormous undertaking, and, frankly, I still don’t have a clue how to go about it.

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Barthold Kuijken, flute, and Thomas Gerber, harpsichord.

Krewe of Pan

Kris Keith and the Krewe of Pan.

The NFA was what I lived and breathed for fifteen months. Somehow, I managed to get Christmas Day off.  Otherwise, I spent many hours a week staring at excel files and word docs, answering emails–and that was only the beginning.  There was mail to sort and organize.  An anonymous proposal-ranking panel needed to be managed; we listened to demos and read bios for hours. Thousands of notification emails were sent and questions were answered.  There were conference calls and diplomatic phone calls.  There was a speech to give first-time convention attenders.  A convention schedule needed to be created and, later, checked through at least a million times.  There were event descriptions to write and organize.  There were convention grids to be made for the convention managers and works performed lists to be compiled.  Magazine articles needed to be brainstormed, and someone needed to manage both the NFA Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Would anyone believe me if I dared claim this poor paragraph only described the tip of the iceberg?

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From left to right: Hubert Laws, Orlando “Maraca” Valle, and Jim Walker, jazzing up a storm.

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With two of my favorite teachers, Dr. Tadeu Coelho (left) and János Bálint (right).

In the fifteen months of life I gave to the NFA, I think I most enjoyed little
blessings that popped up unexpectedly along the way: like joking with Program Chair Tadeu Coelho about possible event titles.  At the convention itself, it was unreal to watch our schedule come to life.  I was excited to have János Bálint, my teacher from the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, attend and perform at the 2013 convention [check out a video here].  He is one of my favorite flutists, and one of the best teachers and mentors I’ve ever had.  There was a moment at the convention where, in explaining Hungarian folk music, he quickly
demonstrated by sweeping me up in a csárdás.  In the end, though I was responsible for helping make sure the events were running smoothly, the events weren’t what made the convention for me.  It was talking with Barthold Kuijken about Flemish politics, being remembered by Gary Schocker, conversing with Hubert Laws about cooking, working out an event room change with Marianne Gedigian, supplying Dr. Coelho with Cliff Bars, and other such memorable minutiae.

No, I may not have lived much those fifteen months; but I learned a mind-blowing amount in that time.  I may be crazy, but there is no way I can perfectly express how very thankful I am for the experience of being an NFA Assistant PC, not to mention how thankful I am to Dr. Coelho for his mentorship.

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[Throwbacks.] Tercets

Lago MaggioreBack in 2011, I had just come state-side from six months of study abroad in Budapest when I up and headed back across the Atlantic for a music festival in bella Italia: SoundSCAPE in Maccagno.  [I’ve mentioned SoundSCAPE before, in my post about Jane Rigler’s Two Seamingbut I don’t think I expressed just how beautiful Lago Maggiore is or how inspiring SoundSCAPE was.  If you like new music, don’t hesitate; just go!]

At any rate, I recently found a recording that resulted from a SoundSCAPE collaboration: the world premiere of Kyle Rowan‘s Tercets, expanding.  It was an exhilarating, hold-on-to-your-hats work to perform, and my colleagues Gleb Kanasevich and Joseph Tomasso were amazing musicians.  Kyle did such a fascinating job playing with textures between flute, clarinet, and alto saxophone; I love the way this piece simmers and percolates.  For a listen, check out Kyle’s SoundCloud here.

Tercets, expanding

Premiering Tercets, Expanding with Gleb and Joseph at SoundSCAPE, 2011.

A Seasoned Musician?

Amadeus

Wolfgang and his powdered wig conducting the FSO.

June has arrived, and my first season with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra has
come to a close.  Puns aside, it has been such a blast!  I have learned so much from my incredibly friendly woodwind and brass colleagues and have gotten to play amazing repertoire, to boot.  Some season highlights include: being part of a live production of
Amadeus
 in collaboration with the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, playing piccolo in Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, and my first ever performance of John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever–on Sousa’s 160th birthday.  For a little peek into what this year was like, check out this flattering review of our Season finale in April: “This performance [of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique] ranked among the best, live or on record.”  Wow!  In short, I feel incredibly blessed.

IMG_6213Meanwhile, in March, I was blessed to begin work at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ Community Music School.  My little studio has
taught me so very much in the last three months; I can’t wait to continue working with the students very soon!

Of course, my first year as a DMA student has also ended.  The end of the semester brought me two exciting multimedia experiences.  The first: performances of MAX patches written by members of the Greensboro Laptop Orkestra (GLOrk).

Second, Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf (composer of Coloured Inks) asked me to perform an excerpt of his work Gitanjali with three lovely dancers at UNCSA’s M3 Spree.  Flute, computer, and dance–what an incredible experience!

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“Of the Energies,” by Kate McFalls, at UNCSA’s M3 Spree.