Our long awaited Comprehensive Seminar for Flutists at CSU, Summer Arts came to close last night. After an action packed two week residency at CSU, Monterey Bay, I am left feeling exhausted, exhilarated, and inspired more than words can express.
CSU, Summer Arts is a unique educational opportunity for students in the arts; visual art, such as painting and photography, creative writing, music performance and composition, theater … you name it. Right now, it lives each summer on the campus of CSU, Monterey Bay which is the site of the old Ft. Ord Army base. What an interesting back drop it is for a summer of all things artistic. The campus is a really cool and funky mixture of old and new; rows and rows of dilapidated barracks and other ancient structures, many of which must certainly date back to the early 1900’s, mixed with very new, modern buildings. In May, after a set with the Monterey Symphony, Steve and I paid a visit to the campus to see where I’d be living for two weeks this July. My first reaction to the old, spooky structures was less than favorable but I gotta say, they sort of grew on me in a “ghosts of drill sergeant’s past” sort of way.
Back in ’93 & ’95, while a grad student at CSULB, I attended CSU, Summer Arts as John Barcellona’s TA. Our back drop for those two summers was the beautiful, green, lush, CSU, Humboldt. Having only been in CA for a short time, this Detroit girl couldn’t believe a college campus and town could be so beautiful. Those two summers were fantastic. Between the enormous amount of information I took away, and the friendships I made – a handful of which I still hold very dear, I also had the incredible opportunity to work with the great Julius Baker, Michel Debost and Ervin Monroe. So, it’s easy to imagine what a shot in the arm it was to be invited back, this time as a guest artist. Being a part of this extraordinary team was pretty awesome, to say the least.
I had the opportunity to present the entire “What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body” six hour body mapping course. In addition to that, I also presented orchestral flute excerpt master classes with John as well as one on my own, devoted exclusively to piccolo orchestral excerpts. The students were such a delight to work with. They soaked it all up like sponges.
Many of the students approached me throughout the two weeks to tell me what a difference they were already noticing with their freedom of breath, or use of their arms, or how finding their AO joint has made a profound difference in their tone, or that their jaw tension was miraculously gone, or how discovering balance has made their technique easier because their arms feel so much lighter. I could go on and on … but I will simply say 🙂 !!!
I have always been a flute and string chamber music kinda gal. I mean, how could I not be, right? Of course I have performed a LOT of flute and piano repertoire over the years. One has to. And don’t get me wrong, I like the piano very much and we as flutists have a ton of great repertoire for flute and piano, however, at the risk of making an unpopular comment, it simply hasn’t been one of my favorite chamber ensembles to be a part of…until a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to perform my all-time favorite piece on our first guest artist recital; the Franck Sonata. This piece is dear to my heart for a few of reasons: one, it was the topic for my masters thesis, two, I performed it for Baker back in ’95 and then was selected to perform it as a featured student soloist for one of the recitals and three, the third movement was performed by a Linda Smith, a former DSO colleague of my Dad’s, at my Dad’s funeral in 1991. It totally took me out. I love the Franck and could seriously perform it on every recital I play for the rest of my life. Trouble is, it’s a bit lengthy and the piano part is a handful. Because of it’s epic length, John promptly vetoed my request to play the Franck on our first recital, so I chose another one of my all-time top 3: Gaubert A Major Sonata. Oh how I love this piece! (OK, so what was I just saying about flute and piano not being one of my favorite combos? Whatever. Nevermind.) I performed the Gaubert with the brilliant Bryan Pezzone and it was some of the most fun I have had performing in a recital ever. The other super cool thing about this performance is that I was able to pull from a recent lesson with Noa Kageyama and implement some of his suggested performing techniques. It worked. I mean, it REALLY worked. Noa, you are a genius. Bryan, you too.
Carol, John, Bryan and I also played the Moyse Trio on this recital. We had a blast. Just like one big moving triad. Naturally, I am looking forward to “Sticky Damper and the Moveable Triads” next big gig … whenever that is.
As for the costumed trio, John, Carol and Wendy did a very entertaining rendition of Doppler’s “La Sonnambula” which was positively hilarious. Wendy’s comedic timing, Carol’s pig tails, and John’s hat were a huge hit!
The second of the two guest artist recitals was a program featuring the work of Christopher Caliendo. There were two world premiers that night, one with Carol, John and Bryan performing Christopher’s “Angel Sonata” and the other with John, Carol, myself and Christopher performing “Forza,” … very high energy, a ton of notes, and very intricate rhythms, all packed into 4 minutes. Great fun! Carol and Wendy performed the sonata that Christopher wrote for Carol, the “Manhattan Sonata” which I think is my favorite of all of his flute sonatas. They played beautifully! Tutti Bravi!
Not being a student didn’t mean we as guest artists missed out on the opportunity for building new, life long friendships, finding new ways to do things, learning about ourselves and growing as musicians, or being inspired. Watching Carol teach was inspiring beyond words. Her love and dedication for what she does just blows me away. Presenting the full six hour body mapping course over several days was just as beneficial for me as it was for the students. Having the time to go back to my sweet suite and practice for the sole purpose of getting better was a luxury I rarely have. So often my practice is spent working on whatever I need to do next. But having that time to just sit and get stuff done without being a slave to the clock – wow. Playing chamber music with exceptional musicians such as these really and truly fed my soul and was a reminder of why I do what I do …because I love it.
Just like Humboldt in ’93 & ’95, I will look back upon these two weeks and cherish every moment. I’ll miss the late night gatherings that ran ’til the wee hours in “Club 228” … otherwise known as my enormous and well appointed dorm suite. Seriously, that dorm room was larger than a few of the places I have lived! And p.s., I think it’s going to take about a week to recover from the massive sleep deprivation. (Not complaining!)
To the flute students, thanks for a fun two weeks. You were all such a pleasure to work with. The progress you made was immeasurable. Waking up Saturday morning to find our dorm room doors covered in colorful paper hearts, filled with your sweet messages of thanks was more than just a nice surprise, it truly made our day! I will cherish those forever!
To our two generous and always available guest concierges Alexander and Erin, you guys rock. Thanks for carrying all of my crap to my car today to save my arm from even more misery! To the wonderful CSU, Summer Arts folks, THANK YOU for all that you do and let’s do this again … soon! And lastly, to my remarkable esteemed colleagues, thank you for two amazing weeks of music making and some really really good times. I love you all!