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!

IMG_6148

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

Hired! and other updates.

IMG_5695Time sure does seem to fly when you’re having fun, and the last months have been quite the whirlwind!  I auditioned for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra‘s second flute opening in May 2014 and still am wildly ecstatic to have been selected for the job.   I played my first concert with the FSO in September, beginning my professional orchestra career with good old Beethoven 5.  While this year is still a probational period for me, it has been such an honor and privilege to perform with such fine musicians!  Check out my profile with the symphony here.

After three amazing weeks in China over the summer, I came back to compete at the Rosen-Schaffel competition in Boone, NC, where I finally proved to myself that I can play from memory.

In November, my good friend Elizabeth Milligan and I performed I Dream of Coloured Inks on a recital featuring compositions by Michael S. Rothkopf at UNCSA’s Watson Hall.  It was amazing to be on a program with some of my former professors.

And now?  I’m working hard at learning Max/MSP, not to mention researching potential dissertation topics.

Remember that time Sir James Galway came to hear a few UNC School of the Arts students play in a masterclass?  I found out, much later, he mentioned us in his blog!  “…the students play to a very high level.”  What a compliment!

I Dream of Coloured Inks.

IMG_4321
IMG_4312Once upon a time, I was given the opportunity to perform a work called Improvisation for Flute and Computer by Dr. Michael S. Rothkopf.  [You can read about that multimedia experience and listen to a recording here.]

Since then, Dr. Rothkopf kindly composed me a work  for two flutes and computer.  His source of inspiration: the Hungarian poem “Mostan színes tintákról álmodom” (“I Dream of Coloured Inks”) by Kosztolányi Dezső.  As theIMG_4317 work evolved, the opportunity arose for the piece to become multimedia artwork with the
addition of a visual component!  A lighting program (influenced by the artwork of James Turrell) was generated by four Design & Production students at UNCSA, with the help of their lighting instructor Norman Coates.

In a performance of Improvisation or Coloured Inks, the computer (Max/MSP) listens to six elements of the sound being generated by the two flutes and makes decisions pertaining to how it will respond musically. Now, however, with the addition of the lighting program in Coloured Inks, the computer also responds visually.

The work was premiered on April 30, 2014 at UNCSA and received a second performance at UMBC in May 2014.  Because the lighting program is being further developed, a link to the work will be available after a third performance late this year.

IMG_4344

Musician vs. Technology.

Krisztina and ComputerIn July, I was honored to perform a revised version of  Michael Rothkopf‘s Improvisation for Flute and Computer.  Dr. Rothkopf, a composition and music technology professor at UNC School of the Arts, created a complex computer program which analyzes six elements of sound being produced by the performer (frequency, amplitude, etcetera), proceeds to make quick decisions with regards to how it ought to respond to those six elements (similarly, or in contrast?), and generates sounds of its own.  I imagine that, in a way, performing the piece was something like playing chess with Deep Blue.  There is always an element of the unexpected.

Click here to listen to a recording of the live performance.

Some opportunities come once in a lifetime.

GalwayI played for Sir James Galway.  It’s sort of hard to wrap my head around something so big, but–there it is.  I have been blessed with the experience of playing for a living legend.  I’m so glad he was able to come and teach a masterclass at UNCSA, and excited my studio was able to raise the money to get him to come.

Sir Jame’s advice?  Practice scales, practice embouchure, practice diminuendos, practice hand and finger technique.  Never forget the big picture.

Why music?

french music “You’re going to major in music?” Upon my high school graduation, my extended family (great aunts and second cousins alike) all seemed to have been crouching in anticipation, ready to pounce me with the question.  “Why?  We thought you were smarter than that.”  Why, indeed.
     I had a roommate who was applying to schools for a graduate degree in chemistry at the same time I was applying for a MM.  The schools not only offered to pay all her tuition and give her a generous stipend.  They paid for her to visit the schools: hotel, food, airfare.  She raised her eyebrows, genuinely wondering: “Why go to grad school–for music?”  Why, indeed.
     Why have I chosen something as difficult and relatively unrewarding as classical music as my vocation?  Why didn’t I choose microbiology, English, or ophthalmology?  I would have been capable of any of those things.
     Some of the reasoning behind my pursuit of music as a career comes, of course, from my love for the art.  It would be madness to pursue music as a career if there was no pleasure to be had in it.  However, much of it has had to do with opportunity.  I have a family background of individuals who pursued music seriously as amateurs.  My parents listened to little other than classical music.  It was natural–and expected–that I should study music.  Then, when I decided I would try competing and auditioning, the doors to a career in music welcomed me, and so have, since.  I take my life a step at a time, growing deeper in my love for an art form that is so abstractly beautiful, knowing that, whatever it is I do to earn my living, music will always be an integral part of me.
     Zoltán Kodály seemed to believe that music was innate to peoples of all the world, seeking to train the ears of the masses to enjoy classical music by implementing his Kodály method, which brings the listener to an understanding of music, beginning with the music which results from his native language–folk music.  Do people want to understand classical music, however?
     The masses say: Classical music is not culturally relevant.  If people mean it’s not new enough for them, what about all of the composers hailed as “too intellectual” in the last fifty to sixty years?  What I believe most individuals mean by this is “abstract music is boring.”
     My response: Yes, and that’s because, in this materialistic, fast-paced, over-stimulated, entertainment-demanding culture, it takes too much thought and time to comprehend, to learn to enjoy.
     Reading that statement again, I realize it sounds woefully arrogant.  I do believe that all musics are valid forms of expression.  I simply think that some express themselves in a more sophisticated manner than others, and that, were more people to take the time to understand classical music, it would achieve greater success.
     That being said, does success in the world give something its value?  I should hope not!  If it were, many beautiful and useful things would be worthless.  Classical music, I believe, is an expression of the pursuit of the infinitely beautiful–something the soul innately longs for.  Giving individuals a taste of the beautiful, encouraging them to wonder and enter the realm of the metaphysical–this is what makes music valuable.  This is why I am a musician.

My Metronome’s Name is Sauron (apparently).

And so Metronome, enemy of rubato-loving peoples of the Earth, was defeated.  The Battery passed to the Trash Can, who had this one chance to spontaneously combust and destroy evil forever.
But the hearts of trash cans are easily corrupted, and the Battery of Power has a will of its own.  It betrayed the trash can–to his death.  And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.  History became legend.  Legend became myth.  And for a time and a half, the battery passed out of all knowledge.  Until, when chance came, it ensnared another bearer.
It came to the creature Charger, who took it deep into the tunnels of the AC Socket.  And there, it consumed him.  Uncertainty crept back into the ticking of the time-keeping world.  Rumor grew of a shadow, whispers of a nameless fear, and the Battery of Power perceived its time had come.  It abandoned Charger, but then something happened that the Battery did not intend.  It was found by the most unlikely person imaginable: a singer.
For the time will soon come when singers will shape the time-keeping fortunes of all.