Well, this past Thursday was my recital. The few weeks leading up to it were brutal. I've never dealt with so much stress. I remember feeling... well, rather, I remember not feeling anything during those last two weeks or so. It was like I just didn't have room in my schedule to have emotions! All I had time to do was focus and practice.
Unfortunately, this past Monday (three days before my recital), my tendinitis flared up again in my right hand. It's still bothering me, although the massage and day off I enjoyed yesterday has helped a lot. If it had happened a month earlier, I would've had to stop playing... but my recital was so soon, I knew it would stay in the acute stage if I just barreled through it and went to therapy as soon as possible. Which is what I did.
But despite all of the negative energy prior to my performance, I really feel my recital was a huge success. It was a little scary in the beginning, though! My program was as follows:
And Legions Will Rise
...And Points North
Stuart Saunders Smith
Dances of Earth and Fire
(Movement 1: Con Brio)
Improvisation for Solo Vibraphone
Encore: Village Burial with Fire
Those of you familiar with the canon of contemporary percussion music might be thinking "wait, Village Burial was an encore? Are you kidding?" I will say, that was similar to what went through my head when my teacher suggested it. For an encore piece, it was by far the largest and most difficult setup we had to do.
Vic is following orders from behind a tremendous Village Burial setup.
While Village Burial took up pretty much the entire stage, I was setting up the actual bulk of my recital program on the floor. The marimba and vibraphone (as well as the electronics rig) was positioned stage left on the floor, which is where I played Electric Counterpoint, And Legions Will Rise, Omar I, and Dances of Earth and Fire. The rest of the floor was occupied by ...And Points North.
About 1/3rd of my ...And Points North setup.
...And Points North had quite a few technical difficulties, to say the least... Aside from my wind chime tree deciding it didn't want to stand anymore, the wind chimes got all tangled up in the process of transporting them to Peabody. I actually had a team that was dedicated to just untangling as many of them as possible while everyone else was setting up.
Kate (my violinist for And Legions Will Rise) and mom do their best to make these guys work.
Eventually, everything fell into place, and we were able to begin my recital at 8:40 pm, as opposed to 8:00 pm. While backstage, Bob (my teacher) and I decided to scratch the second movement of Dances of Earth and Fire from my program. As much as I wanted to play it, not only would I have been super exhausted by that point, but my recital would have gone on for way too long. We also removed the path of leaves from my ...And Points North setup for the same reason. It would've been really cool, but the cleanup would've added about 20 minutes to my program. I was very lucky to have not only a good sized audience, but a large audience that was willing to wait for all of this to get put together!
Overall, I was very pleased with how everything went! I was especially happy with Electric Counterpoint and ...And Points North. With both of these, I really felt I was completely attached to the music. ...And Points North was an experience I've never felt before--I felt like I had total control over the audience, and that they were just as involved with the piece as I was. I wish I had played parts of And Legions Will Rise better, especially considering the composer, Kevin Puts, was sitting in the audience. However, it was definitely the most emotionally satisfying performance we've had thus far. I'm really fortunate to have had the opportunity to play with the musicians who accompanied me (Kathryn Kilian on violin, Gleb Kanasevich on clarinet)--they are both super gifted and super dedicated.
I had a bit of a mallet mix-up before Omar I--I had put some of my mallets that I needed for it in my Village Burial setup. I let the audience know what was wrong, got my proper mallets, and played the piece fine. By this point I was beginning to get exhausted, so I was glad I was honest with the audience. If I had tried to play that piece with the wrong mallets, bad things would have happened, I'm sure.
I do wish my first movement of Dances of Earth and Fire had gone better. I was very glad I didn't play the second movement, though--if I was making as many mistakes as I was playing the first movement, the second would've been a nightmare. By this point, my brain was almost as taxed as my arms were. If I hadn't had a tendinitis flare-up, I might have been able to play the second movement. I was so mentally exhausted, however, I tend to believe it wouldn't have made much of a difference.
I ended my program with a free-form improvisation on vibraphone (in C minor-ish, of course) which, according to my cousin (and extraordinary camera man) Nick Piegari, sounded like a summary of my experience at Peabody. This is what I was hoping would happen, but I wasn't thinking about it at the time so it's pretty cool that it did for somebody.
Finally, Village Burial happened. And that's about all I'll say about it... it happened. It was a pretty casual performance--Bob invited the audience up to the stage to stand around it and watch it up close, and it was good practice for us before we have to play it for the Peabody Percussion Group concert tomorrow. A lot of things went wrong...but it was good that we got to have a "practice performance" of sorts.
And after that was done, I did this:
and then I did this:
My parents threw a pretty sweet reception for my at my apartment afterwards. They got me an awesome cake!
Artwork done years ago by the ever-talented Doug B. Horak.
And now, I'm done. Well, technically I'm not done... I have the Peabody Percussion Group concert tomorrow at 4 pm, I have a Peabody Concert Orchestra concert on April 30th, I have to play on Crystal's recital on May 3rd... but as far as I'm concerned, I'm done. The PPG concert is the only thing I really need to use my arms a lot for (I'm playing on the Lou Harrison Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra, as well as playing And Legions will Rise and Village Burial with Fire again). After that, I just need to rest, do the little bit of playing I need to do, and try to see my wonderful physical therapist David Schulman as much as I can (who is extra awesome for coming to my recital).
Oh yeah, this post has been long enough, but I'll close by letting you all know: I'm not going to Yale next year. I'm going to the University of Kansas to study with Ji Hye Jung, as well as work for both her and jazz department director Dan Gailey as a graduate teaching assistant. Not only is it full scholarship and teaching experience, but I'll be getting paid by the school too. This literally came out of nowhere, and was too good of a deal for me to pass up. Getting paid to go to grad school... that's pretty cool. At least, until I audition for Yale again.