Saturday, May 30, 2009

2009 NCSSM Orchestra Concerto Concert

Tomorrow afternoon, Sunday, May 31, at 2:00 PM, the NCSSM Orchestra will present its 2nd annual Concerto Concert. This year our line up features a single movement of the following pieces:
Adam Collins, Cello Concerto, Mvt 1, Elgar
Audrey Chang, Piano Concerto No 2, Mvt 1, op 18, Rachmaninoff
Connie Zhu, Flute, Poem, Griffes
Darren Zhu, 2nd Piano Concerto, Chopin
Mindy Yuan, Piano Concerto in G, Ravel

I am so pleased that a concerto concert is now part of the NCSSM routine and tradition. These types of concerts are so important for an orchestra community for a variety of reasons.
1.They feature the excellent soloists in a community and provide them with what may be a "once in a lifetime" experience. Other soloists will use this as a stepping stone possibly to a career of soloing with orchestras.
2.They expose section players to literature that they would never otherwise encounter in a school-orchestra setting. (Trust me - the Griffes and Ravel that we are doing hadn't even hit my radar until they were programed on this concert!)
3. They provide excellent opportunities for lessons in expression, following a conductor(who is following a soloist), and interpretation that are invaluable to an orchestra.
4. They invariably feature literature from a variety of style-periods which also provides superior opportunities for teaching broad concepts to young musicians.
5. They are just downright fun! (Have you played the last 16 bars of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No 2 lately? Trust me - it is just about as fun as any roller-coaster ride you could go on.) My students get so pumped to support excellent soloists and to be part of this wonderful format.

I am really looking forward to the performance. We have one last run-through tonight at 6:00 and then it is all over but the shouting. If you are around the Triangle, come on out tomorrow. It is sure to be a blast. If not, watch my blog for video posts over the next few weeks. I will try to feature some of the performances right here.


Monday, May 18, 2009

I'm Bored

It is a strange statement, isn't it? I'm bored. It is especially strange for me to hear this from my students at NCSSM. Our school is arguably one of the most academically rigorous in the United States and our students are perpetually busy. The students that are involved in the arts here have to really carve out time for it. Many students simply don't have enough hours in the day to get everything done and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. But, as soon as crunch time of exams or a term is over, I frequently hear those words: "I'm bored."

What is it about our culture that causes this. I am as guilty as the next guy. We are addicted to being busy. We run so hard day after day and never give ourselves a break. The weird thing is that we are busy, but often busy for busy's sake. We are busy, but do we really have purpose?

I really believe that true purpose leads us to fulfillment. What does busyness lead to? Exhaustion? Lethargy? Or worse - apathy and sloth?

My experience is that being perpetually busy just wears me out. (If you don't believe me, just look at my previous blog-post. I was there a few days ago.) It wears me out mentally and physically. I lose my sense of purpose. I actually get apathetic and lethargic. As I go, I believe that our society goes. We are all too busy and many getting apathetic.

I had a brief conversation about this yesterday with a friend whom I really respect. He suggested to me that this is an especially large problem within academic communities. We value accomplishments. Hard work leads to great things. But does the academic community ever really discuss purpose? Not enough in my opinion. I'll say it again: PURPOSE leads to fulfillment. Busyness for busyness sake leads to apathy.

So, today as you contemplate this post, I encourage you to consider your purpose. Consider what you are placed on this earth to do. Who are you here to impact? As you find that purpose, every thing you do will have more meaning. Your work will have more meaning. Your play, study, friendships, relaxation, and socialization will all have more meaning. Please know that I write all of this as much for me as for you. I need to hear these words as much as anyone. As I reflected on my last blog post and considered all of this yesterday, I felt like this is exactly where I found myself. Somewhere close to apathy. And I know that is not me. I am the opposite of apathy. I really care about the purpose in my life. But, sometimes in the midst of extreme business, we can lose track of the purpose. Time for me to reset my mindset.

What is your purpose? Think about it today. And, try to incorporate it into EVERYTHING that you do. You won't ever be bored again!


Saturday, May 16, 2009

End of school year

Hi all -
I have to admit, I have been feeling pretty guilty lately about not posting much to the my blog. It's not that I don't want to post. Or that I don't think about it. Really, I just haven't had much to say. So, I have been thinking about it a fair amount and I have come to the conclusion that this is natural and I shouldn't fight it.

Let's look at the facts. We have been pushing hard all school-year. we have opened up school, met a whole new slew of students, put on a variety of performances, prepared a ton of music, dealt with the standard issues that come with every school year, seen budgets cut, seen a state employee furlough enacted, watched health care costs rise, sat on boards and task forces, and more. The fact is - teachers are all tired at this time of year. I, for the time being, am out of stuff. My philosophical edge is a little dull at this point of the year.

Realistically, I still have a little way to go. We still have a concerto concert to present on May 31 and my orchestra and soloists are nothing short of fantastic. The strings will be performing at our Annual Sr. Awards Ceremony in early June. And then, of course, there is commencement. We still have a ton of music to prepare and to perform. And we will. With joy and energy. After all, that is what we do.

But, if the blog is a little dull for the next few weeks, please be patient. I will get my mojo back. It just might take 2 or 3 weeks of summer, cycling, camping, family, and life outside of academia for me to get back into the philosophical groove. I am a little spent right now. Spent, but happy. It has been a great year. One that I will never forget. And, always, I am so psyched for the next one!!

Hang in there gang!!