On the way out of class piano this morning, I checked my phone as I usually do when I get out of class. Jeanne had texted the four of us that she just found out that the coaching session was not with her, it was with the Hugo Wolf Quartet! We were in a little bit of a panic–we weren’t warmed up, we weren’t dressed up. We didn’t know quite what to expect since we were simply anticipating the masterclass tomorrow, and today’s coaching was going to be in preparation for that.
Jeremy (our cellist) and I were the first to meet up in Watchorn Hall since Erica and Sara (our two violinists) were still on their way. As we walked up the two short flights of stairs to head to room 202 where we were told to meet, Florian was already seated inside, warming up on his cello. Sebastian was still downstairs, and the other two members were coaching the other quartet who would be performing a Beethoven piece tomorrow. We introduced ourselves before we began to set up the room and get out our instruments, and soon enough, Erica and Sara joined us, followed by Jeanne and Sebastian.
After tuning, we poised ourselves to begin. As usual, we looked to Sara to cue us, yet within our glances I could still sense our anxiety and fear in spite of the fact that we had heard from other students and faculty that the Hugo Wolf Quartet was extremely friendly and amusing. (Apparently they came to U of R a few years ago.) The anxiety must have given us drive however; the first run-through went quite well–they were pleased.
For an hour and a half, Florian and Sebastian worked with us diligently on improving our style, phrasing, musicality, and “storytelling.” We couldn’t help but crack up quite often, especially with Sebastian’s animated personality. Also, we focused on communication within the ensemble as well as identifying which voices supported each other’s lines. Nevertheless, the greatest head-slapper came when Florian suggested that we consider purchasing a reputable edition, especially for bowings. So much for IMSLP–we should have known better, duh! It’s not that other publications can’t be worked with, but it sure does save a lot of time in rehearsal. That’s why I revise my compositions over and over and over again for specificity–performing musicians appreciate convenience.
Tomorrow’s masterclass will be with a peer audience this time around, and the commentary will be a lot shorter since we won’t be the only performers. Although it was initially a shocker, I’m glad we had the coaching session today because it helped our group to gel so much better, and we have improved so much in a short period of time. Also, we’ll be much less nervous tomorrow, and when we glance at each other for the cue, I’m sure we’ll be saying “Let’s conquer this!” instead.