Vardi Recital, April 24

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On Sunday, I will be presenting a recital featuring pieces written by or for the multi-talented violist Emanuel Vardi, with a slideshow featuring a sample of his recording studio output and his colorful and iconic artwork. I am delighted to … Continue reading

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Aunt Maggie’s Art

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Without any perceptible reason, our Christmas tree tipped over in the living room, spilling water and ornaments over the floor.  The only casualty was one ornament. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just any ornament, but one hand-painted by my great-aunt, Marguerite Flint-Smith. Decorating the … Continue reading

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Emanuel Vardi’s Copyrights

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As a working musician, Emanuel Vardi paid careful attention to securing his intellectual property rights.  At the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress, I searched the entire collection to find records spanning roughly 5 decades of his active and … Continue reading

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An Introduction to Morton Gould

As a string player, my knowledge of Morton Gould was limited to his America Salute, a rousing patriotic pastiche of the anthems of the branches of the US military, a popular selection at Independence Day orchestra pops concerts.  While researching for my dissertation pieces that Emanuel Vardi championed (among them, Gould’s Concertette for viola and band), I explored the Morton Gould Papers at the Library of Congress over the weekend.  In the process, I discovered that Gould was a brilliant and versatile composer, an accomplished performer, a leader for the largest national guild of composers: ASCAP, and a respected colleague and mentor to an astonishing number of musicians.  This post will just highlight a few details of this artist and provide links to resources for further information. Continue reading

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Endings and New Beginnings

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Graduation picture with the Swada Family.

Blog post written May 22, 2015

These few weeks have been a point of transition.  On Saturday, my husband and I celebrated our graduations.  Although both of us finished our degrees nearly a year earlier (mine for Library Science and his doctorate in Food Science), it was the first occasion for both of our families to get together and celebrate since our wedding two years ago. Continue reading

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Continuing the search for my “Musical Match”

Anne Cole's breath-taking scroll of her

Anne Cole’s breath-taking scroll of her “Bluebonnet” viola

Finding my “musical match” in a viola has become a very drawn-out quest.  Unfortunately, I have to weigh out my budget constraints (of course), with my own physical limitations – which have compounded with a diagnosis of scoliosis…  Meaning, I simply can’t play the most big and resonant violas I can lay my hands upon.  It’s one thing to not be able to reach the tuning pegs, it entirely different to know that my jankety old back simply won’t stand for it and promises to get crankier in the future.  After flying out many violas (which were all very finely made and very beautiful but for whatever reason couldn’t quite work out), I have come up with some measurements for what I am looking for. Continue reading

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Roelof Weertman’s 1972 Viola

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In December, my viola developed several open seams, causing it to buzz loudly.  Two hours from any luthier, and deep into the end-of-the-semester crush of performances and juries, one of my good friends generously loaned me her viola. She mentioned … Continue reading

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Compositions and Arrangements by Manny Vardi

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Emanuel Vardi, primarily recognized for his virtuosic viola playing, was also a skilled arranger and composer.  For my doctoral project, I am currently in the process of tracking down his compositions.  If you know of other compositions and especially if … Continue reading

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Musical Mishaps – Broken Bow

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During an orchestra concert last week, my bow broke!  On the second to last page of the Grieg piano concerto, I felt a little snap and my bow hair went slack.  As principal violist, I had to lead my section … Continue reading

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G. H. Blair Viola

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To continue my ongoing saga of seeking my viola “match,” I recently came across a viola at a violin shop in Portland, Oregon, which made my heart skip.  A gorgeous viola made in 1912 by G. H. Blair of Spokane, … Continue reading

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Emanuel Vardi

For my doctoral project, I am in the process of researching about the life and legacy of the versatile violist, Emanuel (“Manny”) Vardi.  Combining both my training as a violist and archivist, I have been amazed my journey to understand … Continue reading

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Fiddle/Viola Time Scales by Kathy and David Blackwell

It is so difficult to find accessible and and engaging scale books for students but I think I have found it in Kathy and David Blackwell‘s Fiddle Time Scales and Viola Time Scales!  Filled with fun doodles, these scale books … Continue reading

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Practicing Tips for My Students

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from my students and their parents about practicing.  Sometimes practicing just is not fun, sometimes it creates a lot of arguments at home, sometimes my students just don’t do it, period.  I … Continue reading

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Exciting performances in July

July has been a busy month! Last night, I performed with the Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus as part of the Sister Singers Network festival at Krannert.  I soloed on viola with them for two pieces: a beautiful and haunting piece … Continue reading

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Tang Poetry (in response to my Chinese class)

I wrote this poem when I was taking a Chinese language course during my Master’s degree.  As a 4th generation Chinese-American, I experienced a lot of frustration not only because learning the language is extremely difficult but also because my … Continue reading

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