Friday, 2 May 2014

Rehearsals and Thesis

Friday the 2nd of May. This day has once again been filled with so great events that I cannot describe how blessed I feel that I have the opportunity to be a composer, that I have so many friends who help me and that I am currently arranging my first own composition concert!

So the day began at 10 in the piano laboratory with a rehearsal together along with my pianist friend Tuomas Salokangas, who is going to premiere my piano etude “Psychedelic” next Wednesday at the composers’ concert. The piece is a 7 minute long study of the timbre and overtones of the piano, consisting only of two chords, c minor (tonic) and G major (dominant). Because it is such a long etude consisting of a lot of one-hand tremolos it is easily very tiring for the pianist and I was very anxious about how Tuomas was feeling about playing this piece. But he played it once through for me without difficulty and it sounded great! I expressed a few adjustments but that was about it.
Tuomas Salokangas playing my composition
Psychedelic for me. © Cecilia Damström
After this uplifting rehearsal I headed to the main building of the conservatory and on the way there I managed to call Harri Hautala, the main music critic of the biggest regional newspaper Aamulehti. I cheekily told him that I was organising my own composition concert including a choir, an orchestra and much more, all together over 60 musicians on stage and that this is the biggest musical event a pupil has ever organized alone so far at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. I added that the concert is for free and might interest the audience. He told me to email him directly to his personal email and he would get back to me in case he was interested. On one hand I was amazed by how bluntly brave I had been, but on the other hand I feel I did the right thing as it’s only a plus for the audience of Tampere to know about such a nice free concert!

After a quick lunch I headed off for the first rehearsal of my piece Flying high. Flying high was performed in Tampere Biennale 2012 but now all the musicians are new and we will only have three rehearsals before the concert, so I will be conducting. Or conducting isn’t quite appropriate word for what I’m doing; My main task is to be a metronome. The piece will, at my concert (14.5), be performed by my friends Piia Rytkönen (soprano and jouhikko), Jenni Halonen (flute), Heikki Pöyhönen (oboe), Andreas Heino (clarinet and bass clarinet) and Taina Raittila (cello). The rehearsal went really well for being a first rehearsal, so I was very happy about that!

After the rehearsal I had planned to listen to my trumpetist friend Mari Pakarinens’ final trumpet exam (B-exam) for bachelors. Unfortunately our rehearsal ended so late so I only heard the last piece through the door but it sounded great! She has advanced so much in the last three years, I’m so proud of my dear ex-flatmate! She obviously got full points, a 5/5 for her exam.

After spending some time on correcting the questionnaire for my thesis I met up with my friend from church Natalja Pfeifer and her parents, whom are visiting from Germany for a few days. Her father is a cantor and Natalja has been telling them on skype about all my concerts she has been attending. Natalja’s parents were very nice and her father gave me this amazing CD of contemporary cello pieces, which is great, as I am planning on writing my cello sonata this upcoming summer!

At home I started seriously stressing out about my thesis. As my thesis is a comparative study of the study plan in composition at three different universities I had to hand out a questionnaire to the three universities. I have already handed out the questionnaire to the pupils at the Conservatory of Valencia, and got back 10 answers, which is enough. But I still haven’t handed out the questionnaire to the Finnish universities and it struck me that I HAVE to send out the questionnaire by tomorrow if I want to have ANY chance of finishing my thesis by next week, Friday 9th of May!

So I called my dear friend Matilda, all desperate, at 12 AM and asked if she could correct my questionnaire in Finnish as soon as possible, and she replied “I’m at the composition studio, come here, I’ll do it at once.” What a saving angel! So on Friday eve at 00.30 I arrived at the composition studio and Matilda first spent about an hour reading through all the questions (it’s a 6 page long questionnaire) and then spent another 20 minutes answering it! It’s unbelievable that I am so lucky to have a friend like this! (If this were a Facebook status I would add the mood “feeling blessed”!)

Matilda helping me with my thesis in the middle of the  night on a Friday!

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