On December 1st, the HS Winter Concert was held in the auditorium. We played four pieces, and our theme was Winter in Japan. Our first piece was It’s a Wonderful Life. This piece being very relaxed, I used long bowing, making sure that I use all of my bow, especially for my solo because I wanted to make sure that the audience can hear the beautiful intro. I was pleased to hear that my solo was quite audible, and my intonation was good. It was essential that my intonation was perfect, especially considering this piece was the first piece and thus I was determined to make sure that I did not miss the intonation, which can sometimes happen at concert despite practice. Most often, the starting note is not the best, especially if it’s the first piece of the repertoire, but my starting note was strong and the vibrato helped. I put thought into my solo, thinking of how I can make it expressive. I wanted to create a flow in the first two measures and so I used long bowing, and then slightly released pressure, creating a slight contrast and flow, including a bit of impromptu dynamics, despite the music sheet not having any change in dynamics. Additionally, Ms. Banahene and I discussed about the rallentando in class and we decided that the orchestra would follow my lead so I can be flexible and slow down as much as I want.. Through several practices during class, I was able to get the feel and get the rallentando down. Listening to the recording, I could have emphasized the rallentando slightly more at the concert, but I am quite satisfied at how it turned out. It is not too slow, so as not to break the flow of the piece but includes a bit of slowing down so as to create a flow and create a kind of space for anticipation before the whole orchestra joins in.
This piece was one of the pieces that required a lot of attention for intonation. As can be heard in the recording, the C# was definitely something we struggled in perfecting. We repeatedly practiced this note in class, both playing as group and also having individuals do the finger placement test. It was crucial to perfect the tone of this note, because it is the leading tone. Despite repeated practice during class, I knew that we would sound flat because some people in the ensemble were playing very flat, and a lot of people in the group were playing slightly flat and the flat sound accumulates. Therefore, I tried to play a bit sharp, to get everyone to play a bit sharper but listening to the recording, the note turned out to be flat as expected. I think that during class, I should have emphasized the importance of getting this note on point, or tell my classmates to play a bit sharper, which is better because it leads to the tonic of D. However, it is a fact that we improved quite a lot compared to the beginning, where I couldn’t help but cringe every time we played the note. I think that in the six measures following measure 5, we were constantly playing at mf and we forgot to make a distinction between mp and mf, and we could also have done better with the crescendos and decrescendos which were intentionally written in the music by the composer.
Regarding my second solo, I was slightly worried about the intonation, because the range is relatively high and I have to carefully think about finger placement unlike when I play in the middle range, where my fingers can find the right note without thinking due to experience and repetition. I had to really stretch my fingers for the high F and harmonic and a slight slide could be heard, but I think that my repeated practice of finger placement payed off and my intonation turned out better than expected. I know I should be having a more determined attitude and ensure that my perfect intonation is guaranteed, especially because I am playing the solo, but I was pleased overall.
…. I want to talk about other pieces, but my reflection on the first piece has already far exceeded the word count. However putting this aside, I believe the concert was a success because we really focused on expression, accuracy of rhythm and intonation, and I received a lot of congratulatory words, including “I could see hear the effort you put in including expression, rather than just reading the notes and your body language showed a lot too.”
Me smiling because concerts are always exciting!
First Violin Section
Polar Express, my favourite piece of the night
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