Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Photoshoot" in Montclair

Last Monday, Dylan and I performed at the Van Vleck House in Montclair, New Jersey. 

The Van Vleck House and Gardens was donated to the town of Montclair by the Van Vleck family. The grounds of the house are used as a park for the townspeople. It was built in 1916 and was the property of the Van Vleck family until 1993 when it was turned over to The Montclair Foundation. 

Something that I found very interesting about this house is that weddings are not allowed to take place on the gorgeous grounds! The granddaughter of the man who owned this house fought very hard with the city to have her wedding there. Eventually she was allowed to have her wedding at this house, but she seems to have been the only exception because the city will not allow weddings do to certain zoning laws. This disappointed me very much because as you will see in the pictures, it looks like the perfect place for a wedding. 

Without further ado, here are the pictures that mom took of Dylan and me.

Playing in a venue like the Van Vleck house required the proper wardrobe. I felt very elegant in my new dress and shoes. While walking around in this beautiful house and gardens, I was transported to the setting of a Jane Austen novel, expecting Elizabeth Bennet to appear at any moment!

I'd love to play more gigs in such scenic surroundings. 

A Fond Farewell to My PRYSM Concerts

I spent this past Saturday bidding a fond farewell to my PRYSM concerts, not just for the year, but forever!

PYO (Philadelphia Youth Orchestra) owns different branches such as, PRYSM - YA (Philadelphia Regional Youth String Music - Young Artists), PRYSM (Philadelphia Regional Youth String Music), and PYAO (Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra).

On Saturday I played my last PRYSM concert. I won't be playing in PRYSM next year  because I was concert mistress this year. I could stay in the orchestra for as long as I wanted, but, typically concert mistress doesn't stay for more than a year, unless of course you are concert mistress/master of a professional orchestra such as The Philadelphia Orchestra.

The next option for me is possibly auditioning for PYAO, but not this year. Next year maybe. I will be taking a year off from orchestra because of all of the fiddling events that I have planned. 

The PRYSM concert is held at The Haverford School every year. It takes us about an hour to get there. Our conductor required us to be at the school by 1:30pm. The concert was to start at 3:00pm, we had to tune our instruments and warm up our fingers. Then we rehearsed almost the whole program and ate afterward. I enjoyed talking with my friends backstage before the concert started.

At about five minutes before the concert was to start, our conductor seated us in the audience to listen as PRYSM - YA performed. They sounded wonderful!

After PRYSM - YA finished, we joined them on stage for a side by side piece. We played Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite. It sounded great! I love doing side by side pieces with PRYSM - YA. They play very well!

After PRYSM - YA left the stage, we began to play our pieces: Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacht-Musik, Jean Sibelius' Andante Festivo and Leroy Anderson's Jazz Pizzicato as an encore! I thought it was our best concert of the year! All of the pieces where so beautiful and very fun to play!

I was very sad to say goodbye to PRYSM Orchestra. I've played in PRYSM for five years. The experience has broadened my understanding of classical music. I learned a lot about listening more carefully and playing with more precision. For instance, while playing my solos I have to listen to the whole orchestra as well as myself because if I mess up, it could very possibly mess them up, too. This differs from playing Irish music, because if I make a mistake, it is easier to cover up and just call it a "variation".  

I will miss playing in PRYSM because it gave me a chance to play a different style of music with kids very close to my age. But, who knows - maybe I'll audition for PYAO in the future!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Regional Fleadh Weekend

It's that time of year again - when I'm dreaming of flying to Ireland. But before I go to Ireland, I have to go to Parsippany, New Jersey. 

Two weeks ago, mom and I traveled to Parsippany for the Mid Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil (Pronounced: Flah Kay-ol) , where we've gone every year for the past five years in order for me to compete to win my place at the All Ireland Fleadh to be held this year in County Sligo, Ireland this coming August. 

I have played in the All Ireland Competition for the past five years, winning the title of Mid Atlantic Regional Champion five times, and am a three time All Ireland Champion. Last year I took 1st in solo fiddle and fiddle slow airs and in 2012 I tied for 1st in solo fiddle but ended up with 2nd after the recall.

This is my sixth year and in the competition to qualify two weeks ago, I competed in Solo Fiddle Dance Tunes, Solo Fiddle Slow Airs, Duets (which I did with my friend Alanna who plays concertina), and Trios (which I did with Alex on fiddle and Keegan on Uilleann Pipes).

On Friday Alex and I took fiddle workshops that were super fun! We learned three reels and two hornpipes, however, I don't have names for any of the tunes that I learned! In between my two workshops, Alanna and I decided to practice for our duet competition. We also were recorded by Willie Fogharty from Comhaltas (Pronounced: Kol-tus).

Later in the afternoon, I went swimming in the hotel pool with Alex and my friend Bram. We ended the night by playing some tunes together. I had pizza with my friends, Livia and Emily, in their hotel room. It was great fun!

Saturday was competition day! My first competition of the day was Solo Fiddle Dance Tunes. I was the very first competitor. I played a reel called Bonnie Kate and a jig called Paddy Reynold's Dream. I was very happy with my performance and thought I did my personal best. And, after all the competitors finished performing, the results for the competition were in! 

I took first place! 

I was so thrilled, receiving the perpetual trophy and a medal!

After lunch, I rushed to my Slow Airs competition. I was the first to perform, again, and thought I played well - my personal best. The other competitors did a great job as well! Once everyone was done playing, the judges announced the winners. They announced third place, and then second place, which happened to be my good friend, Livia, and then they announced first place . . .

My second victory of the day! 

I was so excited!

At the end of the day, a lot of my friends placed in their competitions. Alex, Keegan, Patrick, and I celebrated by having pizza together. 

As the night slowly came to an end, Alex, Alanna, and I found a nice session with a lot of familiar musicians.

Sunday, the very last day of the Fleadh, I competed in duets and trios. It just so happened that my Duet competition was scheduled at the same time as my Trio competition. Alanna and I asked if we could perform first, so we performed very close to the beginning. We had decided to do a duet just the previous week with little practice time and made a few mistakes in our performance. We didn't place, but it was fun to compete together.

After playing with Alanna, I rushed to get to the room where the Trio competition was held. They had already started, but Alex, Keegan and I played very close to the end of the competition. I thought we sounded amazing! We had been practicing a lot together and were thrilled when – 

The judges announced us for first place!

We put a lot of effort into practicing together and individually, but couldn't have sounded as good as we did if it weren't for our fabulous trio coach, Patrick Hutchinson!

At the end of the weekend, Livia had placed 1st in Concertina as well as 2nd in Fiddle Slow Airs. Emily (Livia's sister) placed 1st in Harp and Harp Slow Airs. Keegan took 1st in Whistle Slow Airs, 3rd in Whistle, 1st in Uilleann Pipe Slow Airs, 2nd in Uilleann Pipes Dance Tunes, 1st in Duets with Alex and 1st in Trios. Alex placed 1st in Under 15 Fiddle Slow Airs, 1st in Duets, and 1st in Trios. 

Now I can bring my dreaming about traveling to Ireland to a close, for I am actually going, and it’s only a few months away!

I am sharing this post at The Writer's Reverie All Things Bright and Beautiful Link-up this month!