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The TSO's 2013-2014 Season

Yesterday, I got to go to the unveiling of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's 2013-2014 season.

It will be Peter Oundjian's 10th anniversary with the TSO and they showed a cool video congratulating him. I wish I could congratulate him too!

There are a couple of things I'm excited about in the next season.

Rob Kapilow will be back with his Exposed: What Makes It Great concerts. We'll be looking at  Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Beethoven's Violin Concerto and Copland's "Appalachian Spring".

They will have a special performance for Chinese New Year with Yuja Wang on piano and conducted by Long Yu.They will have traditional Chinese and Western orchestral music. They're going to play Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Cirque de la Symphonie looks good too! They will have Khachaturian's Sabre Dance and some of my other favourites.

They will be doing "A Christmas Carol" as one of the Holiday concerts. Mom & Dad say the first time I went to the TSO it was to see "A Christmas Carol". They also did a version of Sleigh Ride that was originally by Liberace and that's when I fell in love with piano. It doesn't say that they'll do it again, but I'll be very happy if they do.

There are so many performances I'd like to go to but I can't list them all here.

To find out more about the TSO's 2013/2014 season, you can visit their website.


My Grade 4 Piano Exam

I had my Grade 4 piano exam today.

This morning, I woke up early and got ready to go to the RCM's Telus Centre. I love that building! They have the coolest, old instruments displayed there. The bistro is nice too.

Dad and I reached early for the exam and we waited together for a while. (Mom gets too nervous when I have exams so she didn't come.) I had to wait by myself outside the examination room for a bit too - that was boring.
I had 'butterflies' in my tummy.

The examiner was really nice. I don't know her name though. I did the scales first. I only remember doing A major even though I know I did more than that.

Then I played my studies. Study in Bb Major was OK but I had a problem with Avalanche. I thought I messed up on the last crescendo of Avalanche and I asked to start over. The examiner said I could from the second half. That was really nice of her and it helped me to relax a bit.

I think my repertoire songs were good. For List C, I did Schumann's Wild Horseman.

Of course my ear test was really good. Identifying the intervals is my favourite part of the exam. :-)

I'll let you know my exam results when I get them.

For now, it's time to just have some fun!
I'm going to play.....


My Grade 4 RCM Exam Pieces

I did a quick recording of my Grade 4 RCM pieces tonight. I'm still not sure which one I'll do for List C, but I'm thinking it will be Wild Horseman.
My exam is on Friday. Wish me luck!

Here are the songs:

Study in Bb Major by Czerny

Avalanche by Heller

List A
Minuet in D Minor by Bach

List B
Sonata in F Major - Scherzo by Haydn

List C
Play it Again by Norton

The Wild Horseman by Schumann

I watched myself in the recordings and I saw that my left hand was too loud in Study in Bb Major.
I hit a wrong note in Avalanche and I need to emphasize the stresses a little more.

Minuet in D Minor was good.
For Scherzo my left hand was a little loud in the middle section.
I rushed a little bit in part of Play it Again.
I liked the Wild Horseman.


TSO's Open Rehearsal of Mahler's Symphony #6

Today I went to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra's Open Rehearsal of Mahler's Symphony # 6.
It was different from other open rehearsals I've been to. We were given headsets so that we could hear commentary by the TSO's Composer-Advisor, Gary Kulesha. It was pretty cool!

Thomas Dausgaard conducted. He was very expressive with his gestures. Sometimes he used the baton and sometimes he didn't. Gary Kulesha pointed out that it's pretty hard on the conductor physically when he conducts. The baton seems to make it easier on the conductor's back. It was a huge orchestra! There must have been about 100 people on the stage. I think it would be easier for them all to see him when he's using the baton.

The rehearsal started with the Scherzo. What I noticed was that the musicians were all familiar with the music and the conductor helped them understand how he wanted them to do the articulation, the bowing (for the glissandos) and the dynamics. It was cool finding out that Mahler's daughters were born while he was composing this symphony.

Jonathan Crow is the TSO's Concertmaster and it was really nice seeing him in action. When they were trying to figure out how they would do the glissandos he played one of them two different ways and the  Conductor told them which one he wanted. And then all of the violins played the glissando with the exact same bowing.

The second thing the Conductor worked on was the Andante Moderato. (This is where he conducted without the baton for part of it.) The first time they went through it, he asked the orchestra to keep tempo on their own. The second time they did it, he showed them exactly what he wanted. There were parts where he needed to focus on the pitch and parts where he had to make sure that all of the instruments came in on time.

The last thing they worked on was the first movement, the Allegro Energico, Ma Non Troppo. This was my favourite part. They worked on the second part of the movement first and then they went back to the beginning. I guess they work on it the way I work on music too. I work on the tricky parts and then start from the beginning.

It's strange that when Gustav Mahler first wrote Symphony #6 that people didn't like it right away. It's now one of my favourite works of music ever.

I wish I could go to the actual performance to compare but Mom won't let me go this Thursday because I have an exam on Friday morning and I need to be well rested.


Baroque Tuning

When I used to do Suzuki violin I always had a problem with the Baroque pieces. They never sounded right to me. When I played it would sound different from the recordings I liked to listen to. And even though I sounded more like the Suzuki recordings I didn't like them.

I just found out why it sounded so different. My violin was tuned to A440 instead of A415! I didn't even realize that they tuned the instruments differently until I started looking it up. Now, I know why it sounded so strange when I would play!

Here's a really cool video of Pachelbel Canon in D with original instruments and where the A is tuned to 415Hz.
It is performed by the San Francisco Early Music Ensemble Voices of Music on original instruments.


Tuning pianos - A440 and A432

After the piano technician left today we looked at how pianos are tuned. The A above middle C in standard pianos are tuned to 440Hz. For ear training it's important to have a standard pitch and it's normal for pianos to be tuned to A440.

But, today I learnt that sometimes the A above middle C can be tuned to 432Hz.

Here's an example.
Bob Marley's One Love tuned to A440

Bob Marley's One Love tuned to A432.

What do you think of the difference?

The standard one sounds a little sharp to me after listening to the A432 version. Dad and I prefer the sound of the A432.
Mom prefers the standard A440 version but she's been listening to it like that all her life.

The Mute Rail Repair

The Mute Rail in my piano stopped working yesterday. Mom called Robert Lowrey's Piano Experts and they had a technician come over to fix it for us this morning. I'm really glad he was able to come today because my Grade 4 piano exam is next week!

There was a little part that was missing from the mute which is why it stopped working.
Paul was able to find a part that fixed the problem.

I was able to play a quick song on the piano before he put the wood part back on. The inside of the piano is so beautiful!


My Music Loving Pets

Practicing wouldn't be the same without my pets. 

They love music!

They all love to hang out by the piano while I'm playing.

Basic Rudiments Exam Results

Last year I did my Basic Rudiments Exam. I studied hard and it was worth it!
I got 97% on the exam!

Both Marine and Christy really helped me to do the best I could do.
Thank you so much!

My Nutcracker Experience

Being a mouse in the Nutcracker was one of the most fun things I've ever done in my life. I loved the rehearsals. I loved working with Miss Toto and I enjoyed working with Mr. Samohin, the accompanist (I'm not sure how to spell his name).

What was really special was getting to meet David Briskin! That was amazing! I'm so happy that he would take the time to meet someone like me!

I really loved performing!

I finally got to see the second act of the Nutcracker at my last performance on January 4, 2013.
We sat up in the balcony area of the Four Seasons Centre. We couldn't take pictures of the stage but we did get a picture all together.

Mom surprised me with a Mouse King Nutcracker!
I'm going take it out every Christmas and remember my first time ever performing in a ballet on stage!

The National Ballet of Canada's Nutcracker is really special. The choreography was by James Kudelka and he really thought about making sure us kids could be involved. The costumes and sets were by Santo Loquasto. The colours and the designs were so beautiful, they were dazzling to the eyes. The professional dancers were amazing and they expressed the music in a way only dancers could. Of course, I loved the music most of all!

I really hope that I'll be involved in the next season's Nutcracker.


Here is a list of blog posts that I wrote about this season's Nutcracker.

  • The Rehearsal where my parents could attend.