"If they give you ruled paper, write the other way." -Juan Ramon Jiminez

Friday, November 12, 2004

the conservatory

i went to jersey city college today for a strings symposium, where people worked with us on perfecting our audition pieces for regions and allstate orchestra. after the tutorials, the winners of some string competition performed for us, the students and teachers who attended the seminar, as well as a few judges who would pick the grand prize winner (there is no real 'grand prize' unless you choose to count the title). of the four people who performed, we only saw two, because the bus had come to take us back to phs. i only needed to see the first girl perform, to have her performance trigger some questions in me.

the first person who played was a ten-year-old asian girl. she performed on violin a concerto by saint-saens, which is a piece difficult in maturity. the first few chords she played stunned the audience; here was a tiny little girl who could play better than most of the people sitting in that room. we have a tendency of labeling a musician 'more' of a prodigy as the years go lower. had she been twice her age, the general reaction would have been a "whoo." she was almost flawless in mechanics, hitting the higher registers with speed and accuracy. however, she didn't stun me, like she did everyone else, it seems. not trying to sound all disdainful of her skills and whatnot, but maybe it's because i was once like that...again, not trying to brag...that makes me look at her performance twice and criticize. the piece she was performing was not suited for her at all. music is more than notes and rhythms and dynamics, it's the soul you put into the piece. saint-saens was mature, in his thirties when he wrote that particular concerto, unlike mozart, for example, who did most of his in his early teens. the difference could be discerned easily; mozart's pieces are bright and predictable, saint-saens is understand. even more difficult to interpret with one's own signature. at the age of ten, few are truly mature enough in musical interpretation to pull off a piece like that. she did not capture the soul of the piece; everything was too mechanical, likely under strict direction from her private teacher and forceful practice set by her parents. in her i saw me when i was young, and it was not all too pleasing. but then again, i did mozart concertos at the age of ten. then again, it was written by mozart when he was in his teens.

watching her and sleep-thinking on the bus ride home back me think twice about myself at age sixteen. that maybe the stuff i do for myself is stuff i'm not ready to undertake. that maybe i want to grow up faster than nature intended.


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