With the year drawing to a close and the complete makeover of my website, Here is a recap of the year's happenings!
The year started off in January ... being completely unmemorable. It was probably because I was frantically practicing for the big month ahead.
February was a month of non-stop travel. From the East Coast Tour with the Shepherd School Symphony Orchestra (DC and New York) to Baltimore, Ann Arbor, then back to New York for doctoral auditions, it was the month of a lot of performing, eating out, discovering new places, and not a lot of practicing.
After a year of recording, applying to doctoral programs, and auditioning at four different schools, the decisions came in March and I decided to stay at Rice to complete my academic career as a student! Having already had a great time doing my master's and studying with my teacher, it was a no-brainer to stay, especially since the small program has such a good reputation and I had been admiring those in the program since I started my Master's!
April was the month of performances! Not only did my final semester of my master's culminate with many projects, they all fell in April! My harpsichord recital of contemporary solo and chamber works was a worthwhile endeavor. I gained so much out of this study on the contemporary use of this antiquated instrument, and already have plans to program another. Also, I finally played two of my favorite chamber pieces: Mendelssohn's Trio No. 2 in d minor and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time.
My Piano +1 series launched with three recitals of collaborations throughout the month of May. With the help of Boson Mo, violinist, Francesca McNeeley, cellist, and Kelley Kimball, soprano, we brought centuries of music for two players to low-income seniors. I also welcomed a french bulldog named Sir Reginald ("Reggie") into my life :)
For the summer months of June to July I went to Aspen for their 8-week summer solo piano program. Not only was it a beautiful town to spend a summer in, the music festival was an inspirational setting with instruction from two world-renowned pedagogues to further master my craft. I attended a phenomenal rendition of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 by Garrick Ohlsson and performed some Berg for Jeremy Denk in a public masterclass.
In August my travels took me from Aspen to Denver to DC and finally back to Houston to start the doctoral program. Though it was exciting to start a new program, the familiarity of the school, my colleagues, and classes made for a very smooth transition.
Finally getting the hang of my schedule by September, I started biking the 1.5 miles to school every day and now cannot believe I used to drive every day! My piano studio also maxed out with 11 students - the most it has ever been!
Coming back from Aspen for the entire summer didn't leave me too much time to learn new repertoire, but I still managed to completely book the entire month of October up with performances. I performed the notorious piano part in Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony, Debussy's three pieces in Images (Book 2), played a piece with electronics (Jakub Ciupinski's Inkubator for piano and glockenspiel), and continued to play concerts with Da Camera.
In November, I played the sampler for the first time on Brett Dean's Carlo, and was able to pull off a performance of Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony No. 1 arranged by Webern (the piano part is essentially 8 instrumental parts combined into one.. involved many leaps and overlapping textures). After working on Messiaen's Quartet earlier in the year and Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire in 2013, I anticipated the Chamber Symphony to be relatively easy. Boy, was I wrong! In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I truly felt very lucky at the end of these two projects to have been able to work with such talented musicians and wonderful people.
December marked the end of my first semester of doctoral coursework with a 4.0 GPA; basic knowledge of recording, editing, and microphone placement; experience going through the interviewing process; familiarity with resources for music research; an understanding of the prominent orchestral excerpts for keyboard; and excitement for next semester's projects!
Bring it on, 2015!