The first day (half-day really) of the 20th Max Aronoff Viola Institute went quite well. Heather and I drove up from Tacoma, arriving around 1 p.m. at the Bastyr University campus. We got our stuff moved in, and then I started to warm up for my 2 p.m. dress rehearsal for the Bartók that would be performed that evening. I decided that I would only touch some spots that had given myself and Duane some problems in previous rehearsals, so as to leave the performance a bit fresher. It’s also still a bit fatiguing for me to play the concerto twice in a day (especially if the second time is a performance), so this approach made sense to me (and, thankfully, to Duane as well). We worked our spots and then I went upstairs to my room to work on my own sections that needed some individual work. Total rehearsal time w/ Duane: 15 minutes. Very efficient!
In the afternoon had one lesson to teach, then some down time for reading and catching up with computer stuff. After a wonderful dinner in the Bastyr cafeteria, I went and got changed for the concert. Since I was last on the program, I decided to listen to part of the first work on the program, then went to a backstage room to warm up again and work a few spots, then came out to listen to the lovely Dohnanyi Cello Sonata (played by Richard Treat and Duane Hulbert) and two lovely bon bons for violin and piano – the Havanaise by Saint-Saëns and Gershwin’s It Aint’ Necessarily So arranged by Heifetz for violin and piano – played by Nancy Roth and Duane Hulbert.
Finally, the moment of truth came. The Bartók Concerto does not have an orchestral introduction, the viola begins alone, accompanied sporadically by low plunks in the left hand of the piano. When playing it for an audition, it doesn’t seem so exposed, because there is no accompanying part. But on stage last night, it felt like pushing off into a void. But soon I was taken up by the increasing demands of the first movement, and it seemed to just fly by without any significant issues, other than me thinking to myself from time to time “this movement sure is LONG!”. The slow movement likewise came and went, and then when we hit the true beginning of the last movement, Duane took a tempo just on the upper side of the range we’d discussed, and I was just thinking ‘here we go!!’, and also was thankful that the last movement was so short and lively. I was very happy with the performance, and of course with Duane’s super piano skills, and was relieved beyond belief that finally I had crossed this major hurdle in my playing life. It is remarkable that it has taken this long for me to get around to playing the entire piece in public (or at all in public), but that’s the way things go sometimes. And there was no better place to do it than at this 20th Anniversary edition of MAVI.