Sunday, January 27, 2013

Auditions Sharpen Skill

Auditions are often viewed by many as a necessary evil to advancing oneself in the performing arts career. They are certainly no walk in the park, otherwise everyone and their mother would be doing them. They were perceived and described to be vital parts of one's career. No problems with that perspective. But they were so often regarded as hard, scary, stringent exercises in one's will to succeed regardless of the reception the one auditioning got from the panel of judges. Again, I don't disagree fully but perhaps they could be perceived slightly differently to benefit more the performer's efforts and career.

Recently I was listening to some motivational CDs. In the middle of one CD the man mentioned a crucial thought to improving one's career. He had been speaking about the necessity for employees to increase their own worth in the eye's of their boss. He said something like this: (paraphrase) Go take interviews as a way to sharpen your skills and continue learning and growing.

As a musician I equated this, of course, to the audition (really an interview but with a different name). Having recently taken an audition myself I began reflecting on my thought that I had improved since the last one. This could be a part in the perspective that I have been missing all along, making auditions a dreaded and fearsome experience for me?

Interviews, auditions in my case, can really be looked upon as exercises in improving skill, adapting to surroundings, finding out how to play better, what to do before hand, how to act while in the room with the judges, etc. Those auditions are meant to make me a better player and person. They aren't there only for me to win, as it were, but to sharpen my ability.

For me, it was a revelation to think of those feared moments in a new way. This paradigm shift has implications well beyond any audition but also to the career itself where we performing artists are seeking to hone our skill every day. The audition is just another tool in the kit.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Johann Gottlieb Graun

J.G. Graun (1703-1771)

Graun held a position of high esteem in the Prussian court as Konzertmeister to King Frederick's orchestra. He was composed at great deal especially after moving to Berlin where he was a particular favorite of the King. His concertos and chamber sonatas for flute were well received.  For his efforts he was paid handsomely, as King Frederick was an accomplished amateur flutist. The higher salary was much to Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach's consternation whose contributions were also substantial to the Prussian court. (More about C.P.E Bach later.)

Graun did have two brothers who were both musicians, but neither were as productive as composer as Johann. He wrote nearly 400 compositions in many genres including sonatas, concertos, overtures, and symphonies. His musical tree includes the great Italian violinist/composer Guiseppe Tartini.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Georg Christoph Wagenseil

The only know likeness of Wagenseil is this silhouette (1746?)
Wagenseil was a composer to the court in Vienna. His own composition teacher was Joseph Fux and was widely favored at the time. His operas were played in Italy and the rest of Europe. Composers such as J.C. Bach, W.A. Mozart, L.v. Beethoven were familiar with his works.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Johann Christian Bach: J.S. Bach's Youngest

I am currently reading a biography about J.S. Bach's youngest son, also a composer, by Heinz Gaertner. It is titled, John Christian Bach: Mozart's Friend and Mentor. This book has gotten me thinking. I'm half way through this veritable list of composers most have never heard of or heard only because of the music history courses offered through university. Try these names: Graun, Hasse, Martini, Abel, Wagenseil, Gassmann, et. al. Heard of them? Better yet, heard their music?!

Johann (John) Christian Bach

The youngest of Bach's sons is not known today as anything more than a son of the great Bach who composed a little and played keyboard. It's interesting that I picked this book up off my Dad's shelf and began to read simply because I knew nothing about him and thought that I could glean some more information about J.S. Bach via his son. It turns out that I found myself more interested in all the other composers mentioned in the biography who knew the Bachs in some way.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Richland Auditorium

The Richland Auditorium is one of those old turn of the 20th Century venues that are falling apart due to lack of funds and/or neglect. This place is like walking back into history about 50 or 60 years. The renovations done to the original building are so old that they are even crumbling. The theater seating is falling apart and looking up at the ceiling makes one wonder if there won't be some surprises dropping in on the audience.

Despite the state of disrepair the building is a fascinating acoustical space. It's played operas, plays, political events, women's suffrage rallies, classical concerts and even Liberace graced the "at that time" state of the art venue with his presence.

My Dad and I were asked to play for this fundraiser. Here is one video of just me playing Bach Suite No. 4 in E flat major, the Prelude. It was fun to play and basque in the reverberant acoustics of the Auditorium. I felt like I was playing for only myself and it came across not bad either.

It was recorded on an NEX 5 with only the internal microphone from the balcony.