Logo

Archive for October, 2015

Greetings from Ethan Rouse

Ethan-29Warmest greetings to my fellow violists! My name is Ethan Rouse, and I am currently in my first year as a masters student in viola performance at the University of North Texas, where I study with Susan Dubois. While this is my first year as a graduate student at UNT, I am no stranger to the UNT viola studio. Last May I graduated with my Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance from UNT as a student of Susan Dubois and Daphne Gerling, and I am very excited to be continuing my studies here under the guidance of the wonderful viola faculty. As I pursue my studies this year, I will be regularly posting to this blog in order to share my experiences with all of you. While I am certainly looking forward to this opportunity, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bit nervous! After all, I can only guess what this year has in store for me, and I hope that what I share here can be of some value to the readers of this blog. Not to mention I’ll be writing about perhaps my least favorite topic – me!

With that said, I want to introduce myself to you and give you a sense of what I am doing in and out of school. I am originally from Wichita Falls, Texas, and I am the second youngest of four children. My earliest musical encounters occurred around the ages of three or four as a member of church choirs, and I began to study the viola as a part of my elementary school’s string program when I was nine years old. Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, but I never felt pressured into pursuing music as a career. All of my siblings were involved in a number of musical activities while growing up, but I am the only one who chose a career in music. My brother is a government professor, my older sister is a pediatric physical therapist, and my younger sister is studying to become a minister – quite the range of career choices!

At UNT, I am currently co-principal viola of the Symphony Orchestra, and I am in my second year as a member of the Baroque Orchestra. I am also involved in chamber music, in which I have the unique opportunity to play viola duets this semester. Outside of school, I have the incredible joy of teaching some 25 viola and violin students at an area high school and middle school. My students certainly keep me very busy, but the joy I get from teaching is second to none! I also coach the viola section of my old youth orchestra in Wichita Falls, where I lead sectionals and give input during full rehearsals. Since the fall of 2011, I have worked as the bass-section leader at a church in the Dallas area, where I sing in two adult choirs for weekly worship services. When I am able, I play with a few regional orchestras and do the occasional wedding gig too. Now that I’ve written all of this out I’m starting to wonder what I’ve gotten myself into this year!

I would love for my postings to be as interactive as possible, so I will be checking the comments of this blog regularly. If there is something that you want (or don’t want) to hear about, please let me know, and I will do my best to tailor my posts accordingly. I greatly look forward to this year with all of you, and until next time, I bid you farewell. 


Introducing Ethan Rouse

Ethan RouseWhat is your name?

Ethan Rouse

Where are you from?

Wichita Falls, Texas

How are you connected to the UNT Viola Studio?

I am currently a first year Masters student in viola performance. I also completed my Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance at UNT.

Did you choose the viola, or did the viola choose you?

Neither! The viola was actually chosen for me. When my older brother began the public school strings program he played the viola. My parents had purchased a viola, so that is the instrument my two sisters and I would play when the time came!

Tell us about your viola! Who made it? How did you come to play this instrument? Does it have a name?

I currently play a viola made by Guy Cole in 2002. I have played this instrument for the last five years, and two years ago I began playing with a bow made by Arthur Richard Bultitude of England.

Who is your favorite violist? (To listen to or as a mentor)

I have great admiration for Kim Kashkashian, but I also very much enjoy the work of Paul Neubauer and Lawrence Dutton, among others. I couldn’t possibly choose just one!

What is your favorite piece to play?

Usually whatever I am playing at the moment, but I have greatly enjoyed playing Rebecca Clarke’s “Passacaglia”, Kenji Bunch’s “Until Next Time”, and “Pictures at an Exhibition” to name a few.

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be and why?

My answer would probably change on a daily basis, but for now I will say “Variations sur un Noël” by Marcel Dupré. I have always loved the organ, and this piece does such a wonderful job of showcasing what the instrument can do. The finale is especially great.

Do you come from a musical family?

Not at all. My siblings were all involved in various musical activities while we grew up, but there aren’t any professional musicians in my immediate or extended family.

What are your career goals?

I hope to teach viola at the university level, but I would like to remain active as an orchestral and chamber musician as well.

If you could take a lesson from any person, alive or deceased, who would it be and why?

I couldn’t possibly pick just one person, but someone who is on my list is the pianist, Menahem Pressler. His undying passion for music and love of learning are very inspirational for me. I am also very envious of his great love of practicing!

Who has been the most influential musician in your life?

There have been so many influential musicians in my life, but one of my biggest and earliest influences is my longtime church choir director. Our relationship began when I was around six years old, and it continues to this day. From an early age, she instilled in me a love of music making and a desire for constant improvement which have followed me constantly. Her desire to share music of the highest quality with anyone and everyone who would (and would not) listen serves as a constant reminder to me of my duty as a musician.

Do you have any pre-concert rituals?

I like to warm up with slow scales to find my best sound and calm my mind and body. I also try to limit caffeine and sugar the day of a big performance.

Do you have any skills or hidden talents your fellow studio members wouldn’t know about?

I have performed as a vocalist for most of my life. This has mostly been in church choirs, but I have also sung in a couple of professional choirs, with whom I recorded two albums of medieval and contemporary choral music. I am also an avid photographer in my free time!


Introducing Dr. Daphne Gerling

IMG_9301 Daphne Photo Devon CassFFFFFttttngREVISED

What is your name?

I have a long name: Daphne Cristina Capparelli Gerling.

Where are you from?

I was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and moved to Boston, MA, when I was very young, so each city is “home” to me in a different way.

How are you connected to the UNT Viola Studio?

I joined the faculty five years ago, in the fall of 2011. I am currently the Senior Artist Teacher of viola and chamber music, and Associate Director of the Summer String Institute. The UNT viola studio is my musical home.

Did you choose the viola, or did the viola choose you?

I began playing the violin when I was four years old. My father is a violinist, and he started teaching me the summer before Kindergarten. As a young girl, I loved hearing him play the violin, and I was pretty sure that it would be great to grow up and be like Anne-Sophie Mutter, playing the Beethoven violin concerto in Christian Dior! But the writing was on the wall….in my first childhood quartet I played “violin 3″…at the time in my city in Brazil, no children played viola, and very few students were studying it even in college. So my father’s first attempts to introduce me to it didn’t go very well, because there wasn’t a nice small viola to play, and there wasn’t a viola community or culture to belong to yet. Everything changed when I came to Boston in 1992 to study violin with Marylou Speaker Churchill, who was the Principal Second Violinist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. One afternoon my friend Melissa Reardon was visiting her home for a chamber music rehearsal with the Amaryllis quartet and left her beautiful Otto Erdesz viola open in its case. She mentioned I should try it out. I had a moment of complete identification with the instrument– I was completely taken in by the beautifully ringing low sound, and it “fit” just right! When I ran excitedly downstairs to tell Marylou, she sent me to find a viola in her studio closet. That Douglas Cox instrument became my viola for the next 10 years. Marylou encouraged me to make the switch immediately… so I stuck out youth orchestra for the remainder of the semester as a violinist, but began viola lessons that same weekend. In the summer I made the permanent switch and never looked back.

Tell us about your viola! Who made it? How did you come to play this instrument? Does it have a name?

The viola I have played since 2002 is a Joseph Curtin, made in Ann Arbor, MI in 1989. I love it, and I love that it came to me through my dear friend Suzanne Wagor and her family. I also have a baroque viola made by Douglas Cox, after a Maggini model. This always makes me happy because of the connection to my first instrument. I play bows by Thomas Dignan of Boston, W. Hammig of Leipzig and a wonderful baroque bow by Thomas Gerbeth from Vienna.

If you could only play the works of one composer for the rest of your life, who would you choose and why?

It would be a total disaster if you made me pick between Bach, Schubert, Mozart, and Brahms. I refuse to give any of them up. And what about Beethoven and Schumann and Mahler and Debussy…. and in our time, Takemitsu…yeah, I’m definitely not going to make up my mind.

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be and why?

If I could perform any non-viola piece, I would sing the soprano solo part of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. I studied singing really seriously throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and this is my absolute bucket list piece to perform, ever. I also wish I could play the Ravel Piano Trio, on violin.

Do you come from a musical family?

I come from a very musical family in Brazil! My mother Cristina is a piano and music theory professor, and my father Fredi is a violin professor and a conductor. My maternal grandmother Cora is still active as a teacher and community music organizer at 90. Her musical legacy in Brazil is awe-inspiring. And my paternal grandfather was a dramatic opera conductor with a colorful history. My youngest sister Ingrid is a beautifully talented violinist working in Houston TX. My “adopted” Churchill family in Boston is eminently musical, and my husband Coulter grew up playing piano and organ seriously, and shares his encyclopedic knowledge with me daily.

If you couldn’t be in music, what career would you choose?

I would not like to give up what I currently do! But at various points I have thought of studying medicine, musicology, French, religious studies and counseling psychology…. I’m aiming to be a life-long learner of the visual arts, yoga, Alexander Technique, and many foreign languages.

Do you have any pre-concert rituals?

Often, I sing. But mostly a banana, some water, some breathing exercises…checking important passages silently to review, after having a good slow warm-up. Backstage I try to stay warm and keep my attention focused calmly on my breath. I think about enjoying the performance, sharing it with the audience and with my collaborators.

What is your favorite memory, thus far, of being a musician?

There are so many wonderful moments…among them: touring Argentina with Porto Alegre’s Suzuki group at age nine, without parents! Performing Dvorak’s New World Symphony in Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colón, and in Santiago, Chile. Meeting the incredible artists who would come through Tanglewood each summer. Singing Haydn’s “Creation” under Robert Shaw, and Cosí fan Tutte “in the round” at CIM Opera Theater. The day during my master’s degree when I had to perform the first movement of Bartok Viola Concerto in partial opera costume and make-up because of overlapping opera performance and viola studio class. Holding the original manuscripts of Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata, Bizet’s Carmen and Debussy’s Préludes in my hands at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris. Playing Mahler at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Performing baroque viola in the Karlsruhe International Händel Festival. Dinner with Bruno Giuranna and the Portuguese Viola Society. Amazing trips to Vietnam, Honduras, and Japan that I would never have taken if not for music. This list could go on and on…

Do you have any skills or hidden talents your fellow studio members wouldn’t know about?

These days I joke that I am a spy…because I am always on an airplane headed somewhere, and it’s hard to keep track of me. (Tip– easiest place to find me is probably in my studio!) But as far as “talents” my students might not see every day, what I most enjoy is learning languages, and cooking for friends and family. I once cooked a full Brazilian Feijoada dinner for 72 people at Westminster Abbey by myself….


Michael Capone on Getting Organized

Hi everyone – my name is Michael Capone, and throughout the year, I’ll be sharing some of my reflections on a couple different topics. First, as the Teaching Fellow for our viola studios this school year, I’ll be teaching about ten students each semester who are either working on music degrees with a concentration in viola as their primary instrument, or who are working on non-music degrees but still wanting to take lessons during their college career. Second, my passion for new music has informed many of my activities at UNT, and I’ll be sharing some of the viola-related new music events that are happening at the University.

        I’ve found that there’s always a bit of a frenzy at the beginning of each new school year. Whether you’re moving to a new location as you start off your first college experience, or if you’ve been in college for years and are just ready to kick off your last first day of class, there’s usually some shuffling that has to go on. You’re busy deciding when your lesson and coachings should fall each week, figuring out what repertoire to tackle next, trying to remember where to shift in your F#-minor scale, getting to know a new chamber group… the list goes on and on!

        Although the semester has already begun for us at UNT, and we have started to settle into a groove, I’m finding that I’m still getting all my materials set and organized so I can have a successful year. This is the first semester in which I’m not just thinking about my own schedule and my own needs – I am teaching students this semester too! Fortunately, some of these students were (and are) also my classmates, so at least I already knew their names and personalities, and had some ideas as to what everyone would need from me as a teacher. Right away, it has become apparent that one of the many things that will be essential for my success is to stay as organized as possible.

        I come from a background in Viola Performance and Music Education, so thankfully, this is not my first semester teaching. It is, however, my first experience teaching at the collegiate level, and right away, I realized that I had never before taught so many students with different needs in terms of musicality, technical prowess, and career goals. I had to come up with a way to keep track of each of my students – although, realistically, ten is not that enormous a number – and their goals, dreams, and experiences. Additionally, I have to know what my own goals and expectations are for each of my students as well!

        Before I began teaching lessons, I started by gathering information from each of my students. This information ranged from “housekeeping” questions (What’s your major? What does your schedule include this semester? Do you have a preferred weekly lesson time?) to more inspired, personal questions. (What are your goals for this semester? For the year? For your career? Are there pieces that are on your wish list? What pieces have you enjoyed playing recently?)

        Getting this kind of information from everyone allowed me to feel extremely comfortable as I began teaching. Not only could I keep track of everyone’s schedule and begin fitting lessons into my own schedule, but I could also already start to form plans for what our first lessons together would look like. A student wants to start the Arpeggione Sonata? I had better start listening to more recordings and make sure I have my own ideas about fingerings, bowings, and style – I need to give myself a refresher on what I already know of that piece. Another student really enjoys playing duets and wants to get into a university orchestra? Great! I can find some level-appropriate duets to start working on ensemble playing fundamentals, no problem.

        Everyone has his or her own method of keeping all of this information organized. I have found it immensely helpful to get a huge binder with dividers for each student. At the front, I include all of the general studio documents – contact lists, attendance records, handouts, etc. Each student has his or her own section with a folder for their current repertoire, class schedules, and goals. I also include about twenty or so sheets of loose-leaf paper to write down weekly lesson progress, notes, and assignments. This allows me to easily look back over the course of the month and see what we’ve worked on, what the week’s assignments were, and therefore, what my expectations will be for the next lessons. Reviewing these sheets before each lesson and throughout the week also allows me to assess my own teaching. Am I addressing the topics for each week thoroughly and clearly? Am I consistent from student to student with my expectations of preparedness? Have I addressed something with one student that might also apply or be helpful to another?

        Though this is only week 5 of my teaching, I am finding that staying organized like this has already been a foundation for my success. Keeping close contact with students, communicating effectively about their wishes and needs, being clear about expectations, and tracking one’s own teaching are the basic tools of any teacher, regardless of subject matter. Surely I will continue to learn more about how to be an even more effective teacher as the year develops. I’m looking forward to sharing more with you soon!

 


Introducing Michael Capone

Image (c) 2012, Glen M. Sanders www.gmsanders.com

Image (c) 2012, Glen M. Sanders
www.gmsanders.com

What is your name?

Michael Capone.

Where are you from?

I am originally from Rochester, NY, and worked for my Bachelor of Music degree in beautiful Ithaca, NY. Right now, I reside in Denton, TX.

How are you connected to the UNT Viola Studio?

Currently, I am in my second year of my Master’s degree in Viola Performance here at UNT. I am also the Teaching Fellow for the studios this year. This means that in addition to my performance and class-related responsibilities, I am teaching some violists who are pursuing music-related degrees other than Performance, as well as some students that are not music majors, but who want to continue studying the viola while they are in college.

Did you choose the viola, or did the viola choose you?

A little of both, I think! I knew I wanted to play the violin from the first time I saw an orchestra perform, when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old. I wasn’t thrilled when I was signed up for Little League baseball instead – I have a distinct memory of sadly playing the air violin while I was supposed to be on first base.

When the time finally came for us to choose instruments at school a few years later, our teacher had expressed a need for more violists. Thinking they looked and played the same (how wrong I was!), I signed up for viola instead and never looked back.

Who is your favorite violist? (To listen to or as a mentor)

Two right now – Tabea Zimmermann and Garth Knox. Ms. Zimmermann for her always passionate, incredibly moving performances. Her CD of Schumann works is what brought me to appreciate Schumann so deeply. Mr. Knox’s interpretations of contemporary works are so fully committed to the aesthetic and are always a source of inspiration when I work on any contemporary piece.

If you could only play the works of one composer for the rest of your life, who would you choose and why?

I think Bach just -barely- edges out Brahms in this category for me. We could spend many lifetimes with the string works, not to mention all of the amazing keyboard and vocal music he wrote. His management of and interplay among any number of voices and/or instruments is beyond words.

I would miss Brahms, Beethoven, Bartok, and Schumann, though, as well…

What is your favorite piece to play?

Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 – A whole world’s worth of emotion in an incredibly compact form. I also recently really enjoyed performing the Variations for Four Drums and Viola by Michael Colgrass. Finding ways for the two instruments to imitate each other so closely was an extremely fun experience.

What are your career goals?

Like most musicians, I believe I will be doing a little bit of everything in the future – teaching, performing, gigging… Fortunately, all of these things are extremely important to me. Teaching allows us to connect with other musicians and discover more about ourselves as musicians, and performing in an orchestra or in a chamber group allows us to be part of a team and work together for the same goals.

I am also very passionate about contemporary music, and would like to be bringing more repertoire into the mainstream focus – both unjustly neglected works and brand new collaborative efforts. Working with living composers also allows us to frame the “classics” in a new light!

What made you want to pursue music as a career rather than as a hobby?

When I was figuring out what to pursue in college, I knew I wanted to go for a career that would help me improve the human condition. I had originally thought of going into politics – but after a bit more research into what that might actually entail, I turned away pretty quickly from that field. Music is something that is more likely to elevate us and teach us compassion and empathy for our fellow man.

Do you have any pre-concert rituals?

I always take some time to meditate before big performances. I find it deeply centering to take moments alone and turn my attention to my breath. It often helps to heighten my awareness after I get back on stage, and it also tends to put everything in perspective, reducing my anxiety.

What is your favorite memory, thus far, of being a musician?

My fondest memories involve performing chamber music with teachers and colleagues – Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, the Loeffler Rhapsodies, and the Schubert ‘Cello Quintet are all performances that I have treasured. The process of working intensely and deeply on a huge piece that had felt just slightly out of reach at the time is richly rewarding. I’ve been very lucky to work with mentors on each of these projects and have taken away new insights from them all.