Monday, June 29, 2009

Festival Reflections 2009

Lasker Summer Music Festival 2009 came to a fine conclusion last night.

Every year, participating in the Festival gives me new direction and perspective for the year ahead. Meeting with encouraging and challenging musicians for these few days, performing and discussing how our faith and art relate, and gathering with the intention of sharing and discovering - these things always refresh and redirect me.

This year, I leave the Festival knowing I did some good and elegant playing, and also being reminded that one needs to think seriously about the results one wants in performance and structure practice according to that goal. One ought to ask "What is a reasonable amount of practice given my goal?" For musicians to mature, we need to know how much time needs to be put in to get the desired results.

Dr. Falby presented a probing talk on the experience and meaning of the goosebumps often brought about by listening to music. This refreshed our sense of purpose as deliverers of goosebumps since the musical moment connects the listener with some sense of the transcendent. This talk also provided a framework for the Festival audience members to process and discuss their experiences of the performances.

There were many musical highlights. In fact, the performers provided such a variety of interesting works that items which would have normally stood out as unique became part of the extraordinary fabric.

The work/performance that seemed to create the greatest impression was Paula Pressnell and Ariel Dechosa's performance of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy on two pianos. Before the performance, we may have had questions about the effectiveness of the piece without orchestra or chorus. But the immediate strong response of the audience, as well as their continued discussion of the performance show that:

1. the work can work as a two-piano piece - it becomes a different type of piece, but very effective

2. the work has some innate goodness that is not dependent upon the timbre or size of the performance forces, and

3. of course, the performance was brilliant!

Other personal highlights include Ariel's masterful handling of Prokofief 6th Sonata,
the fun of playing Erik Satie's Sports et Divertissements with Ken Wolfskill's witty narration,
also having fun playing my own Maritime Suite with Kathy,
Josiah Antill presenting and playing his own music so well,
Jim Guthrie's fiddle playing,
Jeremy McEntire's supreme musicianship playing Gluck and Guthrie,
Kathy and Ariel's exquisite performance of Strauss's Allerseelen,
improvisatory work with Tracee, Jeff, Kathy, and Jeremy (Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy" was a major goosebump experience for me),
our own little revival of Billings's Chester with offstage horn,
Jeff's very refined version of the second of the Liszt Petrarch Sonnets and of course, the superb quality of the high D flat he sang in it . . .
so I liked everything!

It was also a very eventful few days in Lasker beyond these musical
experiences. The air conditioner stopped working in the fellowship hall, so we migrated to Agnes's house for one evening. Beautiful new landscaping was dedicated at the church, and the Methodist church on the outskirts of town had its closing services and ceremony on Sunday.

No comments: