Thursday, September 24, 2015

September Sun

We all like to think of September as being a month predominated by those lovely lingering moments of late summer with warm and sunny afternoons followed by crispy nights. Here in Berlin, we have lately been denied these pleasures; grey skies and daily precipitation have predominated over our weather for the last week. It has really been a bit too cool and grey.

My counter-offensive is two-part. I'll admit that I've spent quite a bit of time sitting at my window and watching the clouds scudding by. It is quite a show, with a full range of clouds from the darkest rain clouds to clear cerulean blue autumn sky in the shortest time span. Great.

When the sky is grey and I'm tempted to dig out a wool sweater to keep my shoulders warm, I tend to turn to the brightest colors in my watercolor palette for some artificial warmth. Sunshine is the topic of choice, so I've been painting sunflowers galore.  The medicine works and here are a couple of the products of my work week.

Pitcher of Sunshine

Golden Greeting

And, of course, there is a thought for the day. . . . from Picasso.

"Art washes the dust of our everyday lives from the soul."

I'd like to extend that thought to music, too . . . . 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Old Friends

I took the day today for a trip from Berlin to Wernigerode. For those of you who might not be up on your German geography, Wernigerode is a 2 1/2 hour drive southwest of Berlin and on the edge of the Harz Mountains. This is a route I have taken many times over the years, though not recently. As I turned off the highway and had the first view of the soft hills in the distance, there was indeed my moment of recognizing an old friend. The colors in the fields and trees and villages change from season to season but the shapes in the landscape are wonderfully familiar - and my car knows each turn in the road. Needless to say, I enjoyed the drive.

While driving I listen to the radio, and was pleasantly surprised to hear another old friend - Mozart. Having a good 40 years of orchestral experience under my belt, the Mozart symphonies are no strangers. Number 28 isn't as well known as the later symphonies but as a seasoned second violinist, I've come to appreciate the last movement of this symphony especially - no boring accompaniment here - lots to play and lots of fun. (The joy of singing along in the car is also not to be underestimated.) In this recording, the presto movement starts just after 19 minutes   Enjoy!

The underlying reason for my trip today was the delivery of paintings to a shop in Wernigerode where I have had my work on display for several years now.The pieces I brought with me are all new works, but portraying subjects that are indeed old friends - sunflowers and poppies.  I have painted these flowers untold times, but each time anew. As in nature, no two flowers are alike - love it! This time I started with patches of color and added contours with India ink. Granted, the technique is not new, but it was a new approach to the subject for me.

But then, isn't that the special quality of an old friend? Something old, something new, a trusted familiarity in a new situation - an old sneaker with a new insole - a new twist to the spaghetti bolognese. And, yes, I also had a couple wonderful conversations today with dear old friends. It has been a lovely day.

"Towering Poppies" and "Sunny Side"

September's Best

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A New Start

There is something daunting about a new start - a new day, a blank piece of paper, the minute before a performance begins or embarking on a totally new project. It is a moment of expectation, maybe trust and quite possibly a bit of magic, too.

And now, in September, we are starting a new concert year, school has just begun and we are experiencing a first taste of autumn. Consider autumn as a beginning instead of the end . . .

Aside from welcoming all my violin students back after the long summer break, I have also had my first new musical experience of the season; I played a very interesting program last week with the Preussiches Kammerorchester - music of Arvo Pärt, Henryk Gorecki, Jean Sibelius and Peteris Vasks. Granted, the names of the composers are not unknown, but there was not a single piece on the program that I had previously played. Exciting! After over 45 years of orchestral experience this is rare.
Here is a link to Sibelius' "Rakastava." Maybe it is something new for you, too.

And here is something new from my watercolor studio

Someone Laid an Egg

One last "new" thought for the day:

"And suddenly you know that it is time to start something new
 and to trust in the magic of a Beginning."
                                                                                                  Eckhardt von Hochheim