Is it really 2014? Crap…

Accepting my Bluejacket of the Quarter commendation letter
Accepting my Bluejacket of the Quarter commendation letter in July

Well, another year in the books.  This year went by very fast!  I think its true, that the older you get, the faster time goes.  I kind of wish that it was the other way around.  Not that I hated my childhood, I just think that adulthood is way more fun.

Receiving my Bluejacket of the Year commendation letter a few weeks ago.
Receiving my Bluejacket of the Year commendation letter a few weeks ago.

Lets see, what happened in 2013?  Well, I started really excelling at work, getting Bluejacket of the Quarter for the 2nd quarter of 2013, and coming away with Bluejacket of the Year for 2013!  Now if only I can get promoted…

I did some pretty cool gigs this year too…going on the road and playing a concert with the woodwind quintet in South Carolina, the Tattoo in April, being on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor on NPR, a couple of ship commissionings, and the christening of the newest aircraft carrier, to name a few.  Wow, my job is cool!

I just had to take a picture of the sign out side Mr. Keillor's dressing room, haha.
I just had to take a picture of the sign out side Mr. Keillor’s dressing room, haha.

Ben and I also celebrated 5 years of marriage this year, now talk about time going by fast!  Its crazy.  We celebrated by running a race…well race for me, and races for him.  It was this race in Williamsburg.  We both ran the 8k on Saturday and he ran the 1/2 marathon on Sunday.  It’s pretty cool to see how much each of us has changed in five years…neither of us would have dreamed that this is how we would celebrate our fifth anniversary!

Ben and I after the 8k, celebrating our anniversary.
Ben and I after the 8k, celebrating our anniversary.

Speaking of running, I completed my 2nd half marathon in September, bouncing back from an injury that kept me from running for the first half of the year.

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Enjoying my well deserved beer after running 13.1 miles in just about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

2013 also saw one of my best friends finally tie the knot.  It was wonderful to be able to go home to Colorado to be there!  Not only did I see the guy

that was in my bridal party (yes, I had a brides-man) finally marry the girl of his dreams, but I also reconnected with many old friends.  You know when you have good friends when a large amount of time passes between seeing each other, but it feels like no time has passed.  I consider myself extremely lucky to have so many people like that in my life.

I also was able to dive back into chamber music, being a member of the WWQ at work, and playing the Reinecke Horn/clarinet trio for a  chamber music recital with a friend.  It’s that sort of stuff that reminds me of why I do what I do, and why I work so hard at it.  I have a recording of our performance of the Reinecke up on the audio section of my media page.

Me and my long time girlfriends (and my awesome sister in the front!)
Me and my long time girlfriends (and my awesome sister in the front!)

This summer I got the opportunity to go home to Colorado for a whole two weeks!  It was great.  I really miss that place.  Ben and I got to get away from family for a couple of days and spent some time in Breckenridge.  Our hotel was beautiful!  And cheap…off season prices.

Seriously, how awesome a view is that?
Hotel view in Breckenridge.  Seriously, how awesome a view is that?

And my sister and I finally did what we had been wanting to do/talking about for a long time…a sister trip to Las Vegas!  We were only there for a couple days, but we had a blast.  We even took a trapeze class!

I returned from vacation to take on what was probably the biggest challenge that I had this year…teaching the woodwind section at a local high school’s marching band.  Whew, I sure didn’t know what I was getting into!  But it was worth every minute, every stress headache, and every frustration.  It showed me how much satisfaction I get from teaching!  This is a video of their final performance at nationals in November (I’m so proud of how far they came this year!):

Last big thing I did this year was take the President’s Own audition. It has occurred to me that I never posted my “post-audition thoughts”, perhaps because I was so frustrated with how I did. Long story short, I did not do as well as I had hoped, or as well as I knew I could. I mentally sabotaged myself…AGAIN. So, part of my goals for 2014 is to really dive into matching my mental state during high pressure situations to my mental state during relaxed situations. I seem to over-think and become super aware of what I am doing in these high pressure situations, and that’s exactly what happened during the audition and I flubbed a note in the Mozart.  A stupid note.  The Mozart that I have played perfectly a billion times over.  You see the frustration?  I could see my dreams flying away in that audition room.

So…2014.  What am I going to do with you?  Well, on the musical front, I would like to do a recital this year sometime.  I know I say that every year, but I’m gonna do it this year!  Other than that I want to  focus more on actions instead of goals…I was motivated by this article I saw in my Facebook feed:

http://zenhabits.net/no-goal/

It makes sense!  So my “goal” for 2014 is to practice fundamentals, no matter how much, at least 6 days a week.  I’m going to not care about the end result.  I figured that’s my problem, I’m too concerned with the end result!

On a personal front, me and Ben are going to see a lot of changes in 2014…about a month ago I received word on probable orders to leave Norfolk.  I’m not going to say to where just yet, just because I don’t have the orders in writing.  Things are never certain in the military!  But nevertheless, I’m very excited.  Sad to leave all the opportunities I’ve created for myself here, but still excited.

I’m trying to get back in the groove, I’ve been pretty sick the past week (the week that I was going to start practicing again, hmmmf.) so its been a little difficult.  But I’m back to work on Monday whether I like it or not!  (or whether I’m ready or not!)  Go go gadget 2014!

Reinecke Trio

This past week I got to do something that I haven’t had a chance to do since I was in school. I got to play real chamber music! My co-worker, who is a horn player, put together a chamber music recital with a bunch of us from the band. We played the Trio for Horn, Clarinet and Piano by Carl Reinecke. I had never heard of this composer before, but apparently he’s fairly well known to pianists.  He was a piano player himself in the late 19th and early 20th century.  And it is quite apparent that he was a pianist that didn’t know a lot about wind instruments…both the clarinet and horn parts are really awkward to play!  And the piano part is a monster.  Luckily we were able to find a pianist who was able and willing.  You can check out the score here on imslp.org.

Speaking of Petrucci library…we didn’t buy the music…nor did we really want to (that stuff is expensive!).  And since only the score is online, we had to transcribe the parts ourselves.  (There’s viola and violin parts online, but those were composed separately by Reinecke and are not the same as the wind parts – very interesting!)  This meant that I had to make some creative decisions…like which clarinet to play it on, because the score is in concert pitch!  I ended up going with Bb for all movements except the 2nd movement.  The second movement ended up being much easier played on A.  I have no idea if that’s what the actual part is, but its what I did!

The music is really nice, its probably one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever played.  Despite being awkward to play, it doesn’t sound like it!  Its too bad that its not in the standard repertoire.  It should be!  Its hard to play, but its totally worth it.  I went to a wedding last weekend in Colorado, and I actually brought my clarinet with me, and practiced about an hour each day because its the type of music that I had to play through everyday in order to keep up with it.

The recital was great, we had a good audience who really appreciated all the music.  I kinda felt like a rock star!  Makes me want to do more recitals.  We’ll see!  I have no time to practice for one right now, with all the work stuff I have to prepare for our summer concerts.  Maybe in the fall!

 

My first Navy trip!

Last weekend was my first official overnight trip with the band.  I went with the woodwind quintet (which I’m in) and the brass quintet, plus our boss (the band officer in charge of Fleet Forces Band).  We traveled several hours south to South Carolina, to a little town called Pawley’s Island, which is just south of Myrtle Beach right on the coast.  This was a first for me, I’ve never been to South Carolina!  We were even able to take a walk on the beach!

It was cloudy, but still a nice walk along the Atlantic ocean!

The concert consisted of the WWQ playing a program, then a joint piece with the BQ, then the BQ played a program.  The venue was pretty nice, it was at a church.  It had a beautiful pipe organ that reminded me very much of the organ at CSU.  And like most churches, this one was very live!  You see, our rooms at the band hall are all very dead sounding or they sound like a bathtub, so it was a little jarring at first.  We tried to prepare by rehearsing in one of the practice rooms, which have the virtual room technology.  But that was nothing compared to this church!

For our (WWQ) program, we played a Stephen Foster Medley that was arranged by Michael Kibbe, A Bach prelude and fugue (can’t remember which one off the top of my head), Five Easy Dances by Denes Agay, and our one serious piece, Anton Reicha’s Quintet No. 2 (Op. 88).  The Reicha has been haunting me for the last month or so!  It seems to always get in my head, haha.  Plus I had to practice it like crazy, for some reason the clarinet part is really insane compared to the other parts.  The joint piece was the Concertino for Wind and Brass Quintets by Robert Washburn, and our boss conducted.  That was a great piece to play, I’m glad I got to be a part of it.

We ended up getting a new “oboe” player about two weeks before the trip because our regular one was so unreliable (see my ranting post).  I used quotations because our new “oboe” player was actually a clarinetist playing a C clarinet.  It is really amazing how much a difference there was by switching out one person.  We sounded really awesome, especially on the Reicha.  It also helped that we had a lot of time to rehearse.

The audience was something else.  They ate it up!  I don’t think I’ve ever played for a more enthusiastic crowd.  It ended up being a pretty long concert, but they loved every minute of it.  And they were so appreciative afterwards!  It’s nice to feel appreciated sometimes, especially as a military musician (we never get applause at ceremonies!).  I’m really glad to have been a part of the concert.

So next on the agenda for me is to record excerpts for the ICA Orchestral Audition competition.  I’m really struggling with the Mahler 7 excerpt, most notably the stupid chromatic run at the end.  I just can’t get my fingers to move that fast!  ARG.  Also, the Brahms 4 excerpt is throwing me…where the crap do I breathe?  On the recordings it doesn’t seem like the clarinetist breathes at all.  Also ARG.  Everything else seems to be falling into place though.

And Friday I’m hoping to make it up to VCU in Richmond for a masterclass by Julie DeRoche!  Very excited for that!

 

Trip to Colorado and recital

Wow!  The last week has gone by in a flash!  I had such a great time in Colorado, I really didn’t want to come back!  Actually, if my husband wasn’t still in NY I probably would have stayed!  


I arrived in Denver after a very smooth trip; the only delay was in Rochester because  a bird ran into the plane on the way in and they needed to “clean up” and inspect the plane (it ran into the actual plane, not the engine)…but I still arrived in my connecting airport early!  My sister and her husband came to pick me up, along with her friend (and now my friend too) Courtney.  I had quite an entourage.

Wednesday morning I went to breakfast with my sister, my brother in law, and my mom to Lucile’s, which is like, the best place to have breakfast in Foco.  Just saying.  After that my mom let me use her truck (I know, shocker!  I’m almost 28 and she finally trusts me to take one of her vehicles, LOL) and I went to Greeley to meet with my friend Adele, who was playing the Poulenc with me on my recital.  We ended up rehearsing the Poulenc for a little bit and then talking and playing other duets for a couple hours!  It was great fun.  But then I had to get going to get my hair cut…my ends were quite gross – it had been over 10 months since I had it cut last!!  Obviously I really like my hairdresser since I let my hair go for months and months until I can make it back to Colorado, ha.

Mmmmmm Lucile’s
Wednesday night was the whole reason that I came at this particular time: my sister was having her last concert with her a capella group, Curious Gage.  My brother in law has been in it for awhile, and right when I moved to NY she had auditioned and won an open spot in the group.  So I’ve never heard her sing in the group!!  And this was my last chance to see her, and I am so happy that it worked out!  I seriously was so blown away by how much she has improved her singing and I was so proud of her, I thought I was going to cry during the first song!  The concert was Halloween themed, and I totally wore my tinkerbell costume!  All the members of the group also dressed up – Kristi being a vintage Barbie of course!
Thursday and Friday were spent mostly preparing for my recital on Friday night.  I had enough time to go for a run with my mom and also have some good quality time hanging out with my mom.  It was really nice!  Thursday night was my dress rehearsal.  I won’t go into details, but it ended up being a little frustrating.  I’ll be honest, it ended up not being the quality that I hoped – I have been so spoiled with Eastman pianists!!  Rehearsal ended up lasting almost three hours without a break…I was so pooped at the end!  Luckily Kristi was armed with cupcakes, so I felt better!  

Luckily my reeds changed very minimally in Colorado, but I am glad that I got the slightly softer strength, they ended up being just perfect!  I hardly needed to work on them, which was nice.  Also, my breathing adjusted very well to the altitude.  I had to re-do some breaths in the Poulenc that were on the verge of being impossible in Rochester and became entirely impossible at 5000 feet, but other than that I didn’t need to adjust anything!  

I also had a slight wardrobe emergency.  The outfit I planned on wearing was a long skirt and a shirt that I ordered from this Chinese company about 3 weeks ago.  I paid for 7 day shipping, thinking that it would be here in plenty of time.  Well, it didn’t actually arrive until last Tuesday (the day I left for CO) and it needed a signature confirmation…I was at work and Ben was asleep when the guy came to deliver it.  So he left a nice little note that stated that it would be available to pick up at the post office after 9am on Wednesday.  Well that sucks!  I was leaving that night!  So Ben had to go pick it up for me, and he overnighted it to me at my parent’s house.  Which was fine, it was better than trying to find a new shirt.  (Although now, a $15 shirt ended up costing me almost $50…)  Well when I finally opened the package on Thursday night, it ended up being WAY to small (I had ordered a medium, but I guess I wasn’t thinking in “asian girl” sizes, ha!).  I tried to stay calm, not panic…we can fix it.  And I showed it to my mom in the morning…and she fixed it!  There were only little buttons that fastened the shirt closed, and and all we needed to do was move the buttons!  It ended up fitting perfectly and looked fabulous.  Whew!  

The recital was held at Magnolia Music Studio, which is owned by Cynthia Vaughn, who used to teach voice at CSU.  Basically, she is awesome, and I loved playing in her space!  It was very intimate, which I liked, I felt like I could really connect with my audience because they were right there. 

The actual recital went very well.  I don’t think I could have played better considering the time frame that I had to prepare.  The turnout was great too, almost a full house!!  I have a feeling that the pianist went home and practiced a bunch on Friday because it was so much better than it had been on Thursday night.  And I actually spoke to the audience without feeling like I made an ass out of myself.  Win!  Unfortunately, I had a projectile spit event on the Sutermeister, but I recovered the best I could.  It happens.  

Everyone LOVED the Debussy that I arranged.  I was really surprised by the reaction to it – many people said it was their favorite piece of the concert.  I think it was mine too, actually!  

Saturday, my parents hosted an open house for me, so that my friends could come see me, instead of having to stress about making sure I see them.  That was really fun, a lot of the same people who came to the recital came to the open house too.  It was nice though, because I could chat with them more at the open house since it wasn’t as crazy.  

On Saturday night, I went to the Zombie Crawl in Fort Collins with Kristi and Courtney.  We got all “zombied out” and had a great time.  Kristi was a zombie bride, and Courtney and I were her zombie bridesmaids.  
Trying to eat my dad’s brains (and he’s also being attacked by golden retrievers)

Saturday night was so much fun, but I had an extremely early flight the next morning so I definitely paid for that fun.  I think I went to bed around 1am and I got up at 3am.  My flight was at 6am out of Denver, gross.  But I made it, and luckily the flight back was even smoother than the flight into Denver.  I slept almost the entire way.  Oh and then I taught a clarinet lesson that afternoon…that’s how desperate for money I am!

It was kind of sad to be back in Rochester after having so much fun in Colorado, but it is what it is.  Back to real life!!  At least I have Ben here, and we are going to be leaving soon.  Although I would love to move back to Fort Collins, but its just not in the cards, unfortunately.  But somewhere other than Rochester sounds real nice right now.

Coming up, I am forcing myself to take a week off from practicing (seriously forced – I keep wanting to get my horn out!), then I am going to start preparing for the Navy Band audition in January.  I met with my recruiter today, and he is totally excited for me to audition for the band.  Apparently, if I win the job, I will outrank almost everyone in the office after I get out of basic training.  Ha!  So crazy.  I was hoping to repeat my recital here in Rochester, but it looks like I won’t be able to afford it (I really don’t want to charge for tickets).  So I’m going to focus my efforts elsewhere.  I’m still hoping to maybe work something out with the Medical Center and their concert series, but nobody seems to be getting back to me.  Whatever.  

So I’m going to enjoy my week of no clarinet!  Maybe I’ll try to be productive….


Updated site

Just a quick update…this weekend I was able to completely update my blog site.  Now you have access to my bio and other information, and I hope to have my resume and other features up very soon.  Yay!  Closer and closer to a real website.  I’m hoping to reformat it to the logo my dear and talented sister made for me…someday.  (shameless plug…if you ever, EVER need graphic design services, she is the one to go to: www.kristisiedowthompson.com – I highly recommend her, and not just because she’s my sister, she rocks at design!!)

In other news, one more day of Rochester practicing before my recital.  I am leaving tomorrow night!  I had a chance to play the Poulenc yesterday at the Eastman House during the Ad hoc concert.  It went pretty well…although I’m so thankful to get in a performance of it under my belt, it really showed where I’m weakest!

Now I have to figure out some notes so that I can speak a little about each piece.  I need to work on my public speaking skills, and what better place to do that than at my own recital!  My goal is to not speak too much, because I really hate when people go on and on about the piece they’re going to play.  Get on with it already!
And if you are wondering, this is the final order of the program:
Bolcom (Eb piece)
Sutermeister
Poulenc
Debussy
Finzi
I decided to go ahead and make the Finzi the last piece…seemed to make more sense to me even though it doesn’t end big or anything.  So that’s it…I probably won’t have time to blog while I’m in CO, so I’ll see you on the other side!