Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Update 12/7/10

Today was my last official school day, where I went to the Mellon Institute and played in the Daniel Matsukawa master class.  For those of you who don't know, Mr. Matsukawa is the principal bassoon of the Philadelphia Orchestra .  The master class went so well.  I took a lot of notes and my brain is processing all this information.  It's also important to mention that the CMU bassoon studio can really wail--on their bassoons, of course.

You know who else can really wail, is my little dog, Spike.  He needs a lot of attention to prevent him from digging through the garbage or eating cat feces.  But he is really, REALLY adorable.

My new job is going well.  I am having trouble adjusting to my schedule because I am working full-time overnight for my winter break.  But it's not all bad, next week I am going to visit Adrian in Philadelphia,which will be a delight and a relief.  I feel like I haven't seen him in forever.

There are a few other things I have been doing and also purchased (D&B coin purse for $6!), but that will come later.  Right now I have to go to bed.



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I was driving down Forbes when this happened!

Pitt was setting fireworks off the Cathedral of Learning!  It was most amazing.  One more reason why I love going to school in Pittsburgh.  I was listening to Symphonie Fantastique, in case you were wondering.  Also, I know I shouldn't drive and make a video, but at first I literally thought the Cathedral of Learning exploded.  What a day!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Recent Acquisitions part II

Although I am not as nuts about Craiglist as I once was, I do manage to peruse the free section every now and then.  The other day, this guy popped out at me!

It is a panel from a Slovenian beehive, complete with two Slovenians drinking wine and eating sausages.  There is a wonderfully poor English translation of the history of Slovenian beehive painting on the back.   Technically, it is intended as a gift for my half-Slovenian boyfriend.  Until he comes to visit next week, I get to look at it all I want.  (It's a gift for BOTH of us).  The best part was that the person was getting rid of it on CMU's campus, so all I had to do to pick it up was walk up and down a slight incline. :)

Next stop, I made myself a drink sleeve for hot beverages.  When I took this photo, I did not have a hot beverage, so this beer glass will just have to do.  You get the idea.

I kind of just took a Starbucks drink sleeve and used it as a pattern.  I think the total cost of my little project was 60 cents, with the fabric, the thread, the batting I used for insulation, and the button closure.  It was good because it gave me something inexpensive to do (still job searching, but I have at least one prospect), and now I have something pretty to look at when I walk down Forbes Avenue with my coffee.  AND my impact on the earth is that much smaller.

Today I played in CMU's Contemporary Chamber Ensemble concert.  I played bassoon in Contradanza by Sofia Gubaidulina and Quattro Fantasie by Hans Werner Henze.  If you don't know about these two folks, look them up.  They are rad.  Rehearsing for this concert was tough, because in order to be at rehearsal at 9, I had to wake up at 6 AM.  Most Wednesdays and Fridays since the beginning of school.  I think in the end though, the concert was a big success and it is always a treat to play with such a high caliber of musicians.  I love my skewl!!

Anyway, I have a chamber orchestra concert tomorrow in Squirrel Hill.  It feels good to be busy, and I always like to hope that some day I will get paid to do the same volume of playing.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The State of Things

It has been a long time.  Maybe a little too long, but I have been quite busy--practicing my little fingers to the bone, making copious amounts of reeds, riding the bus, playing with the new dog, visiting friends, and various crafty projects.
Carnegie Mellon is great.  Everyone I have met is really nice, but also takes music very seriously.  The ensembles are VERY very good.  After being at two big state schools, it is a nice change to be in a small conservatory-type setting.
My teacher is brilliant, and she has helped me so much in the past two months.  I'm thinking about music differently than ever before and I am starting to feel more confident in my playing.  We've been working on the Piard scale and arpeggio studies, Bona's Rhythmical Articulation Etudes, Oubradous Scales and Daily Exercises, and Orefici Melodic Studies.  It's a lot of tedious work, but it is paying off. :)

I'm having some trouble finding a job, but isn't everybody?  :)  It's all right.  More time for me to practice.  Theoretically.  Being a little broke has encouraged me to be more thrifty and find enjoyment in cheaper things. I do the crossword in the newspaper every day because it's free.  I walk more and ride my bike.  I have been mending my own clothes to make them last longer and give me something to do, and writing in my journal.  I spent a weekend on the East Coast (Philly/NYC) with a budget of $45 and came in under.  (It is important to mention that a certain handsome young man bought me trolley tokens :)).   Life is just as fun and enjoyable, but is costing a little less.

Also, we got this little dog named Spike.  He is technically a foster right now, but we hope to keep him.  He was seized by the Humane Society because his owner was abusing him.  He came to us sick, weak, flea-bitten, and traumatized.  Now he is flourishing.

That's all for now.  Must practice!

Friday, July 30, 2010

recent acquisitions

This summer, I have been spending most of my time at home, in my room, practicing the bassoon, cleaning, or melting into a brown puddle.  However, a gal's gotta cut loose every now and again.  One of the ways I amuse myself without money is to look at the free section of craig's list and imagine what it would be like to have the ability to drive to Munhall/Connellsville/Shadyside and make these items mine.  WELL, the other day, after the first taker fell through, a girl emailed me to see if I had any interest in a free chaise lounge.  I did!  I borrowed my dad's truck and took my brother (the muscle), and after some careful maneuvering and the help of a tattooed and pierced young man from across the street, my new (to me) chaise was loaded up and on its way to the other side of the 'Burgh.  It isn't much too look at, but I put a quilt over it and here are the results:

My mom took me to Goodwill the other day and I am also the proud new owner of two dresses, two gorgeous cardigans and a pink Jansport bookbag.  Mom got a cardigan and a button-down shirt.  All for $22.50.  In these difficult economic times, it is important to try to make old things seem new again, and to support your local goodwill.  And watch Craig's List vigilantly.  I found an almost- new electric range on Craig's List for my parents just today! I blew up the old one while they were on vacation in South Dakota.

Oh, my masters degree came in the mail the other day, too.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Time Has Come

I am officially starting on the audition trail.  I did take the Delaware Symphony audition back in January, but I'm for real this time. :)  Today I sent my check in to the Lexington Philharmonic to reserve a spot at their bassoon sub list audition, and I am preparing to send my resume to St. Louis for their second bassoon opening.  The problem with auditions is that they suck.  No one wants to travel a long way just to find out someone doesn't think you are good enough.  I already know that.  You don't have to tell me.  So, I suppose I ought to change my attitude.  Auditions can be fun.  It is fun to be competitive and I should pretend like my feelings of paralyzing fear are feelings of paralyzing excitement.  Right?  Right.

In the end, the whole reason for all of my hard work on excerpts up to this point has been so that I can win a job.  Now I need to go out and try.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Transformation

Two posts in one day!  Part of it has to do with the fact that I have a keyboard that has all the letters and numbers.  So, today, Colette and I spraypainted a filing cabinet.  Behold its glory!

Before--rusty piece of doo-doo.

AFTER!  I'm the only girl on the block with a purple filing cabinet!  I am going to put my music in it!

Some of my other pursuits:

Further proof that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

I'm Still Alive!

Don't worry--I am still among the living.  I have been enjoying my summer vacation to the fullest--tea drinking with mom, room cleaning with brother, bike riding with dad, Cosmo reading with sister, cake baking with Colette, phone conversing with ADB, and trips to Sonic with whoever will take me.  And today, I will add excerpt learning.  I haven't been the most dedicated bassoonist, but I find that without a goal (audition, lesson, recital), it is hard to be motivated.  Therefore, I have been working out.
What is this working out?  I'll tell you.  I have been doing this mind-numbing exercise where I play through all my etude books with a metronome and tuner in front of a mirror.  I do this so that I can develop my rhythm, intonation, and minimize finger movements (these pinkies of mine are out of control!).  It sucks and is not fun, but my hope is eventually it will pay off and I will have sweet fingers.  Fingers I can really be proud of.
I am also thinking about recital music.  I might play a lot of German music--I miss it after my adventure into the France-Land that is Wisconsin.  French bassoon music will always have my heart, but I need to branch out.  Perhaps some American music too?  Or....Canadian???  The possibilities are endless.

Today I am going to make a concerted effort to work on my CMU audition rep--Ravel Piano Concerto in G bassoon things, Rite of Spring, and ALL of Mahler 6.  I wonder if CMU is doing Mahler 6.  In which case, this would be my third time playing it.  Maybe I could play contra this time...
Well, I am off to eat some cake and soak some reeds.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Vacation Photos

As my graduation present to myself, I went to Philadelphia for ten days--to visit friends, relax, unwind, and visit the birthplace of  America.  I met some fun people, brushed up on my Spanish (go figure), and ate and ate.  I also celebrated my birthday.  I am 24 years young!  Professionally, I feel I don't have much to show so far, but on the other hand, I have made a lot of friends and who will hopefully be more successful than me and throw me a bone now and again. I will not worry.  Things go up and down--I feel like I am doing with my life what the good Lord intended, so I will keep working and praying.  Aaaaaaaand eating.

My camera battery was dying, so I only took a few food photos:

European-style hot chocolate at Naked Chocolate 
I got a spicy one.

What is more refreshing than lemon gelato and a Pellegrino after walking 40 Blocks in the unforgiving Philadelphia sun? Bon Bon.

Pork Juicy Buns and tea at Sakura!

The weary traveler (I was having a good hair day and a bad face day, I guess).

We also ate at this amazing Mexican restaurant called Distrito.  It is worth a try if you are not entirely broke. ;)  You can eat in a Mexican taxi and they have a whole wall of Luchador masks!
That was my trip!  It was fun and also tasted good.  More later!


Friday, June 4, 2010

A Small Update

Hello all,
I'm well, so don't worry about me!  Hehe.  My keyboard doesn't like to type Hs or Gs or apostrophes, so writing is not on the top of my list of fun things to do.  However, I have been a busy little beaver, and soon I will post the fruits of my labor.  Until then, keep practicing.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring has Sprung

I remember the day that I decided I wanted to be a musician--
My parents are very interested in music and have a strong appreciation for it.  They attend the symphony regularly and my father sings with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.  I grew up listening to music of all types, my least favorite being classical.  I was about six when I attended my first Pittsburgh Symphony concert.  If memory serves, AndrĂ© Previn conducted something, then Itzhak Perlman played the Four Seasons.    I did NOT want to go.  The concert was the same night as my church's Hearts for Jesus Dance, and doing the Electric Slide with a bunch of Lutherans seemed ten million times more fun and interesting than listening to world-class musicians play amazing music.  Go figure.  

When I was about twelve, I gained a whole new appreciation for music.  I was home sick and my mom was performing her spring ritual--making potato-leek soup and listening to the Rite of Spring.  I so vividly remember laying on the couch, listening to this music and thinking, "What the hell is this??"  I didn't have any idea that music could be like that or could illicit such a strong emotional response.  I decided right then and there that I wanted to be a part of it.  I started playing clarinet, but switched to bassoon because it was so much larger--my mom says I have a Napoleonic complex.  Here I sit, twelve years later, listening to the Rite of Spring and feeling the same way I did when I first heard it.  What a hoot.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I've gone Into the Woods

As I am nearing the end of my academic career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, my academic calendar is quite free.  I don't have any classes this semester, and I'm not playing with the symphony in their last cycle of concerts.  However, I did recently get my very first Wisconsin gig! (when you are a masters student in a studio with four doctoral candidates, you have to wait a long while for the gigs to make their way down to you).  I'm playing in the musical pit for Into the Woods.  We have had a few long nights and a lot of performances coming up, but the bassoon book is interesting, and the music is very nice.  Thank you, Stephen Sondheim.  My college roommate played the narrator in the Penn State Thespians' production, and being in the pit is bringing back all kinds of happy memories.  

Now, I am contractually obligated to say that the show is going great and I am having a good time.  That being said--Into the Woods is going really well and I am having a great time.  The pit musicians are really good (and really quick thinkers!).  Playing in a musical pit is not the most glamorous existence, but I think I could  do it for a living if the cast and the crew and the musicians are as talented and friendly as they are in this show.  Into the Woods seems like a pretty popular musical, too, so getting to know this part will probably only benefit me in the future.  Modern musicians have to be able to do anything and everything, including play a musical or two to pay the bills.  Plus it can be fun if you don't get caught up in the fact that it's not Tosca or Der Rosenkavalier.  You could always pretend...;)

In other news, I passed my comprehensive exam, which, if you don't know, is an hour-long basic music history exam.  It really SHOULDN'T be too hard, but it's hard to spend a weekend to studying ALL OF MUSIC HISTORY.  But hey man, a pass is a pass.  And I did it.  Now I need to finish my bassoon exam, which is a paper on the top five orchestral excerpts for bassoon.  It's getting close to done, but there is just  so much to say...I could have written a book on the Marriage of Figaro excerpt.  Also, there is a Megabus route from Pittsburgh to State College.  AND Pittsburgh to New York.  Maybe I can ride the Megabus to New York City for a dollar every weekend and pretend that I am a struggling New York artist.  I'll be a New Yorker yet!

Also, in May I'm having a visit from one of my favorite people, who shares my affinity for public transportation. :)
This photo is relevant because it is taken in 30th Street Station, Philadelphia PA.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

So....I didn't get in.

I will not be attending the Juilliard school next fall.  I won't get to drink coffee and stargaze at Alice Tully Hall and I won't get to ride the subway to school and I won't get to take practice breaks in Central Park.  I don't get to struggle to survive in the capital of the world.
I will get to go to a really great school and study with an amazing teacher in Pittsburgh.  And also I will get to live at home.  With my parents.
Everything happens for a reason.  It is a relief that I don't have to take out a million dollar loan and move half way across the country again and eat ramen noodles every day.  I might actually make some money next year and feel a bit less stressed.
My recital went over without a hitch.  I haven't given very many recitals in my life, but I can tell it's becoming easier with every one.  A lot of people came to see it, including my parents and godmother and sister, which always means so much.  Obviously, there are things that I could do better.  But it'll just have to wait for the next one.
I have decided to tackle the Jolivet concerto.  I want to play in a concerto competition and I think the Jolivet is a winner.  I learned how to practice efficiently while preparing for my Juilliard audition and I'm excited to implement my new skills.  I haven't been practicing too much lately because my wrists have been hurting and I need a little break.  But once my comprehensive exams are over (Wednesday), I plan on going NUTS!  Wish me luck!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

I don't mean to brag, BUT...

Today I got my letter of acceptance to Carnegie-Mellon's Performance Residency Program.  I submitted my application SO late (I got the due date for this application and a music festival horribly HORRIBLY confused) that I thought it was not even a possibility for me.  Especially when audition season came and went and I was never invited to have a live audition.  But, you know--the Lord works in mysterious ways.  It is a tuition-free program, and I could live with my parents and my life would be perfect and easy.  I'm going to wait to hear from Juilliard before I make any decisions.  However, it is important to mention that my greatest heroes teach there--Philip Pandolfi and Nancy Goeres from the Pittsburgh Symphony!
Two years ago, being accepted to Carnegie-Mellon without even taking a live audition would not have been a possibility for me.  I used to feel like I deserved to go to good schools and get attention and praise because I was an impressive bassoon player.  Today, I realize that the only way that I can do anything with what little ability I have is to work very, very hard.  My overwhelming feeling right now is not pride, but utter humility.  That a school like Carnegie-Mellon would accept little old me.  With a little faith, a lot of hard work, the right attitude, and tremendous amounts of support from my friends and family, good things have been happening, and hopefully will continue to happen.  So all of you musicians out there working your tails off--keep your chins up and keep working!  It'll pay off.



Saturday, March 13, 2010

The D&B

For years I have had a love affair with the Dooney and Bourke.  When I was fifteen, I saw a magazine advertisement with Mischa Barton holding the Dooney and Bourke "It" bag and I fell in love.  I saw my first Dooney and Bourke purse in person at Bloomingdale's in New York City and I knew I had to have one.  Some day.    This seems silly, but I don't really wear makeup or have fancy clothes.  I have to fill my "girl" quota with accessories--namely shoes and bags.
The summer before I started graduate school, I worked two jobs--my day job was as a cashier at KMart, and my night job was calling students at an art school and reminding them to buy their books before classes start.  I've never worked so hard in my life, and have an extreme appreciation for people who have two jobs--it stinks!  There is no time for bassoon.  
When I finished my phone call gig, I bought myself this highly impractical bag on sale at Macy's for about $93.    I especially love the enamel heart.  However, I did feel some buyer's remorse.  It's canvas, so it has the potential to get really dirty, and I am 23 years old and the period of time where carrying a pink purse is acceptable is swiftly coming to a close. However, it always reminds me of how hard I had to work to get it, and all the fun times we've had together.  

Lately, I've been on pretty things hiatus.I haven't been inside a department store in months.  I haven't bought an article of clothing over $10 in a year.  I do go to Goodwill a lot, but I don't usually buy anything.  It has to be something mind-blowingly awesome.  I was in the Goodwill when I saw THIS guy:

My purse!  But in a more respectable color and in a more durable material!  I experienced two very strong emotions right at the same time--elation, to find something so gorgeous and perfect at Goodwill in my price range ($5.99-can you believe it?!), and extreme despair, that I spent $93 hard-earned dollars on a purse that I could have bought two years later for $5.99.  I (literally) raced for it, as another Goodwill shopper was eyeing MY bag, and in my fervor, I sustained a 2-inch gash on my foot from a rogue clothes rack.  I actually left it there overnight--I got to thinking that it would be nice for someone else to go into Goodwill and find something so awesome.  When I regained rational thought, I went back to see if it was still there, and bought it immediately.

I suppose the moral of the story is--good things come to those who wait and go to Goodwill every day.  

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Brain is Melting Out of My Head

I have been back in town for five days, and I can only really say one thing--I'm a tired Beaver (thank you Bridget for this amusing expression).  I am noticing that if I don't write things immediately I will forget and I went to bed before 10 two nights in a row.  It's okay--soon I will have caught up on my sleep and will be able to accomplish great things once again.

New York was great--my audition went as well as could be expected, and I got to be in the same room as some of my biggest role models.  And play the bassoon for them!  And they didn't throw up in disgust.  I also got to eat a lot of good food, visit with Benton, and become well-versed in the public transportation systems of New York City and South Eastern Pennsylvania.  I spent two days in Minneapolis with the UW-Madison Wind Ensemble, putting on exciting shows for the kiddies and eating more good food.  I was trying not to drink any alcohol before my Juilliard audition, as now that I am 23, hangovers last two days, but I did buy the biggest Bloody Mary known to man, and it was garnished with a shrimp!  Can you believe it?  How decadent!

Now that I'm back in town, I only have one more thing on my list of things before I can go home for Spring Break--my masters recital.  I'm having a hard time getting excited about it right now, but I'm taking the night off from bassoon (my first night off in a looooooong time) to listen to music and write program notes.  I also bought some nail polish and two new pens!  As you can tell, there is never a dull moment in the life of Kika Wright.  I think I might put in a silly movie and think about the next time I can have a bloody mary...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Special Olympics!

This is me in the parking lot of the Alliant Energy in Madison.  You may notice that I do not have readily visible pants.  Well, I'm not wearing any, and it's for a good cause!
This year was my second year of jumping into Lake Monona to raise money for the Special Olympics.  Elizabeth's cousin Jenny participates in the Special Olympics, and she asked me last year and this year to do it.  To be honest, jumping in a frozen body of water is not my idea of a good time, but I did, and it was fun.  Last year I raised $75 and this year I raised $100 (my team, Jessica, Elizabeth, and me--raised $765 total!!).  I get so caught up with practicing and making reeds and watching TV series online that sometimes it's good to have a reality check and help people that seriously deserve some helpin'.  Elizabeth forgot her shorts, so I lent her mine and went without.  Penn State T-shirt and old-lady swimsuit is not a great look for me, but it's for a good cause.

(Team Jenny in the middle)

As you can imagine, jumping into a frozen Wisconsin lake in the middle of February is no picnic.  When you shore up the courage to actually jump in, it is insanely cold and dark and scary, and sometimes (like this year), another jumper will push off your shoulder with their foot to propel them to the surface.  It's over in a few minutes--what's a little discomfort to help some friends?

"1-2-3-Plunge!"  (this year I didn't even cry!)

I think this photo expertly captures the reality of the situation.  Did I mention I got a free longsleeve t-shirt?

My Juilliard audition is in three days and I feel good!

Friday, February 19, 2010

To Juilliard!

What a winter I have been having!  I have been all over the country, playing the bassoon and eating the food.   It's been crazy, to say the least.  I played for Kim Laskowski and Frank Morelli in New York City (I ventured for the first time into the upper west side, and then onto Harlem accidentally), Keith Sweger at Ball State, and Nadina Mackie Jackson when she came to UW for a recital and a master class.  I feel so humble and grateful.  I have been working really hard lately and it seems to be paying off (I guess what I'm saying is, I think they liked me!).

Now I've got this audition, which is exciting and terrifying.  Two years ago, Juilliard seemed like a distant impossible, dream.  For a variety of different reasons--including but not limited to my wildly supportive friends, family, and teacher, I feel like I can do anything.  Even if I don't get in--which is a distinct possibility--I'm so excited to get the chance to play for the Juilliard faculty and be in New York City.  And visit with certain people :).  I'll be playing the Tansman Sonatine, Vivaldi Concerto in C Major RV479, and some excerpts.  WOOOWEE!    

Wish me luck!