Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blissfully Multitasking

During July and August here in Kent, we have the opportunity to enjoy free chamber music concerts by the students at the Blossom Music Program. Chamber music has not been one of my favorites forms, but these students come from all over the world to study with members of the Cleveland Orchestra. They are just superb musicians and I love to watch them as well as to listen to the gorgeous music they produce. Many of the pieces are familiar, but there are always new, to me, composers, mostly contemporary. I have even learned to appreciate Hindemith ... although he was no Mozart.

A few years ago, after taking a drawing class at the university, I started carrying a sketch book around, encouraged by the class instructor to do so. There are not many places I can actually use it. I have taken it to Provincetown when visiting my daughter there. That's the ideal place to sit and draw in public, because there are so many real artists there that an old lady sitting in the middle of town with a sketch book is completely ignored. No one looks over your shoulder and asks, "Watcha doin'?", which is a good way to kill one's enthusiasm. It's also a good place because there are so many interesting people to draw wandering around.

I started taking it to these chambers concerts, and that's an ideal venue. I sit in the front of the small auditorium where there's enough light from the stage to see by. As I listen I make quick drawings, trying to catch the movement, especially in the strings, where most of the action is, so to speak. I love the way these kids sit on the edge of their chairs, their straight backed posture (except for a certain oboist a couple of years ago), how they position their legs and feet. The women all wear delicate spike heeled shoes. They are all dressed in white blouses and shirts, and black trousers or skirts. Sometimes the women wear glamorous black evening gowns. Most of them will go on to playing with symphony orchestras or professional chamber groups. Some will become teachers at conservatories. I don't know how many of them will go on the solo careers, or how that works. They all seem to me to be extraordinary musicians at this stage, but I am far from being an expert. Although some of them already appear to have a certain star quality it's hard to pick that out from what is essentially the cooperative performance form of chamber music.

At any rate, I enjoy sketching them in action. I even drew one of the page turners. They also serve who only sit and wait.

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