Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Perlman Music Paradise

So after one amazing and exhausting summer, we are back in Austin, TX! Well except for Greg, he's in Finland, but that's another story... the three of us here in the Lone Star State are enjoying our first real quartet break of the summer by seeing old friends, going to the beach (Alan), wakeboarding (me??), frantically completing quartet applications (Nick), and reminiscing about the incredible experiences we've had in the past couple months.

Our two weeks on Shelter Island, NY at the Perlman Music Program were the perfect way to wrap up the summer. Imagine your favorite childhood summer camp, including cookouts, bonfires on the beach, and pickup soccer games, and add to it an artist faculty of some of the most beloved musicians performing today. And the "campers" are all dedicated chamber musicians in their twenties/thirties. This uniquely supportive and inspiring atmosphere led to plenty of recreational late night chamber music reading with new friends and the faculty even after countless hours of rehearsal with our main groups. It also led to several more surprising collaborative endeavors - like the time Don Weilerstein schooled EVERYONE in basketball at the Perlmans' house. Which just goes to show that if you've mastered your coordination and timing enough to be the first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet, everything after that is cake :) Another fond memory from the Perlmans' house would be Mr. P himself manning the computer, taking us on a guided Youtube tour of Horowitz, Kreisler, Ella Fitzgerald... and this kid -

We were lucky enough to work specifically with Itzhak Perlman and Don Weilerstein during our stay at PMP. Mr. P was exacting in what he wanted, and hilarious in the way he explained it to us. Early on he recounted the story of a cruel teacher who once belittled his student by saying, "Every day you sound worse. So why today do you sound like the day after tomorrow?" From this point forth, Mr. P endeavored to assess our progress (or lack thereof) by gleefully announcing "this sounds like next Friday" or, if we were fortunate, "that could have been yesterday."

Mr. Weilerstein's description of sound production and sympathetic vibration, and the necessity of awareness of sound through our bodies (including the all-important sitbones), completely revolutionized the way we played the second movement of Beethoven 18/1.

And in perhaps the best news of the summer, PMP had its own private beach. And dock.

This is the other best news of the summer. The incredible Toby Perlman, who created PMP through her vision of bringing together like-minded young musicians in a safe and supportive environment. What they are keeping us safe from, I have no idea, but we love it and we're not complaining...

Ok and this is beyond the best. Merry Peckham, founder of the Chamber Music Workshop at PMP, and our mentor and inspiration from our days back in Cleveland!

Another highlight of the program was a series of concerts called Tutti Suonare. For a couple hours every day in the first week, we got a break from our regular quartet members and rehearsed with groups comprised of a random mix of players, each including one faculty artist. I performed the first movement of the Dvorak piano quintet with the wonderful Roger Tapping (and Christel, Yundu, and Karen!!!)

A view of PMP from the beach. I told you it looks like summer camp...

Among the many friends we made at PMP were the fabulous Ariel Quartet. We have 3/4 of them here, I don't know where Serge is, but check them out if you ever have the chance! Also check out the Linden, Vinca, and Bryant Park Quartets. They all rock.

Everything we've been hauling around since June. Packing credit to Alan.

Wow this is a long post. Thanks for reading and checking in with us :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What I did this summer

Many of you possibly don't know it, but Nick is the one who did 90% of the work on our webpage. If you ask him about it he'll say that it was a joint effort, but really most of it is to his credit, and I think it looks pretty good. It was the product of many, many sleepless nights on his own part in Aspen last summer, and at the end of most of those nights all he had to show for it was some empty bags of Boulder Canyon potato chips.

He slugged through it, though, and we're very happy he did. The other 10% of the webpage credit goes to me, but for the most part all I can do at this point is some updating and repair work - all that we really need a second tech-savvy person to do, I suppose. I did develop a new respect for Nick's patience with Photoshop and Dreamweaver as I tried desperately to update our homepage to reflect our temporary personnel change over the summer. Here is the fruit of my labor.

Not bad. Despite my best efforts, though, I couldn't find a way to get her head to go black and white like the rest of ours. There are a lot of fancy buttons in Photoshop, but the one very simple button I had trouble finding was the "Turn thingie black and white" button. Three months of searching just wasn't enough to find it.

I never drew up the courage to put that on the homepage of our website - in your head you get the idea that the second you do something like that, some concert presenter will log on in blatant witness to your brazen lack of professionalism.

Playing with Michelle was wonderful, but it's also very good to have you back, Nick. Do show me that button when you get a chance.