Bethany Q. ’21 - French Horn
Horn Concerto No. 1, Allegro by Richard Strauss
The piece I'm playing is Horn Concerto No. 1, Allegro by Richard Strauss. I've wanted to play this piece for a while because it’s a classic piece in the horn repertoire. The call at the beginning is iconic, and every horn player who plays this piece has their own signature call. It is a concerto and since I don’t have an accompanist, there will be a few breaks in my playing where normally a pianist or an orchestra would be playing.
This year, I found more time to practice by using free time while I was at school, and I got to be a part of many great groups and performances. One of my favorite things I got to do was attend New York State Summer School of the Arts, School of Orchestral Studies. I learned about how to blend with others in chamber and full orchestra groups, and especially how to blend within my own section. It was difficult at times because I had never played in an ensemble of that level before, and I often felt behind the other musicians. However, the experience was great overall, and I definitely grew as a musician.
I get very nervous when I perform, but I didn't realize how much of a problem it could be until I botched a solo during an orchestra concert. The solo was not challenging, but I got so scared that I started on the wrong partial. I think it was an important moment because I learned that I needed to change how I dealt with my nerves.
Next year, I look forward to auditioning for the next season with Empire State Youth Orchestra (ESYO) and being back with the orchestras when ESYO starts again. ESYO is one of my favorite parts of playing horn because for me playing in an orchestra is one of the best things about being a musician. One of the things I’m missing most right now is being able to play with my orchestra.
Ivyann S. ’23 - Piano
Reflets dans' l'eau by Claude Debussy
I have been studying piano for eight years. Before I came to Emma, piano playing could get lonely—it involved just me, my teacher for an hour a week, and a random audience once in a while. Through the Emma Artist Program, however, I have been surrounded by a wonderful community that includes the most encouraging audience and many peer musicians to cheer each other on. Thank you, Emma Artists, for the stage, mentorship, and camaraderie, and for making my daily practices more meaningful and fulfilling.
Reflets dans' l'eau means "Reflections in the water" in French, and that is exactly what Debussy conveys. I love the impressionistic ambiance, which reminds me of a Monet painting. The shimmery notes are sparkly and deliciously colorful. It is a technically challenging piece because of the chords and octave jumps, therefore requiring a lot of slow practice. I encourage you to listen specifically to the left hand "pings" in the theme. They are like raindrops, or the occasional "tidal waves." Expect to hear the sound of water, in undulating forms.
This year I was happy to tackle some very characteristically different pieces, like the wistful and romantic Chopin Barcarolle, the wild Vers La Flamme by Scriabin, and the grim and dramatic Concerto in d minor by Mozart. Some challenges I faced included technical difficulties like continuous trills and fast chords. I also had to learn to use my whole body to create big sounds without being harsh. Keeping up energy can also be hard, but I think I am building my stamina.
Through solo practice time, I gained more insight about composers and their unique styles. Through the Emma Artist recitals and occasional performances outside of school, I learned to better connect with my audience and gained more confidence as a performer.
I was just beginning to learn Chopin’s Ballade no. 2 when it dawned on me that, despite beginning the piece peacefully in a major key, Chopin dropped several hints of the upcoming minor key, through the recurrence of just one note that gives an unsettling feel, preparing listeners for what comes next. I hope to look for these kinds of subtleties in other music I study—it is definitely worth paying attention to.
I look forward to hearing my friends at Emma Artist Day. I am so glad that our show goes on despite the pandemic. I am proud to be a part of it!
Ruoqi Katie Y. ’22 - Piano and Mezzo Soprano
Music For A While by Henry Purcell
My piece is Music For A While by Henry Purcell. I just started working on this piece, but this is the only up-tempo song that I have learned this year. It requires more techniques to maintain the clarity of the song, and better breath-control. I need to pay special attention to the emotions of this song, because the melody is more melancholic while the feeling that this song is trying to convey is different.
For piano this year, I worked on a Grieg Sonata and a Chopin Valse. The two pieces are very distinctive. The sonata is up-tempo, the melody of the song changes a lot, and the mood of the song is powerful. While the waltz is more subdued, Chopin uses interesting chords throughout the entire piece, conveying the emotion really well.
My challenge this year was that I had to work on my time management while pressure on academic life gets heavier.I tried songs with different languages, such as French and Italian, and played some pieces by composers whom I rarely know the style of. I am a mezzo soprano but I started trying songs in different voice ranges that challenged me. I look forward to trying new styles in both piano and voice. I'm mainly working with classical pieces, and I hope to try styles such as modern or pop.
Leave a Note of Encouragement!