Full Disclosure

This is always my favorite time of the year… It’s a little windy and brisk at times, but the chill can be easily deterred by a huge mug of hot apple cider. Normally I’d be outside enjoying the sunny (and rainy) days with my horse and my friends, but this fall season has been a little different.

For the last few weeks, I’ve practically lived in my room, accompanied by a Sally, for bloghuge mirror and a music stand. Here I can be found, reliably practicing from the time school ends to the unholy hour I finally decide to stop playing and go to bed. I take tons of short breaks as well as a few longer ones, to get the most highly prioritized homework completed and to eat. I realized early on that I needed to turn my phone off and put it far away in order to really focus… Some of my friends started to send concerned messages, wondering if I was becoming some sort of nocturnal hermit.

Oddly, these past few days have been more like “normal” for this time of year. I’m actually spending a good chunk of time outside of my practicing bubble. I’m so unbelievably excited for the concerts this weekend! But, I’ll psych myself out if I keep running through every possible place in the concerto where I could potentially mess up. Instead, I’m thinking about other things, like the really good book I’m rapidly devouring, or how amazing the new “House” episode was, or how much I love seeing my friends.

I’m pretty sure that this should be the week where I’m a stressed-out nervous wreck, but that hasn’t happened at all. And I’d like to keep it that way.

Sally Bruce, violin     (Photo: Stina Plant)


Friday, October 2 – 8:00 pm at Saint Mary’s Church, Saint Albans

Adults/Seniors $5; Students $2

Tickets available at the door.

Concert Sponsors: The Dressing Room & Mousetrap Pediatrics

Sunday, October 4 – 3:00 pm at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

Adults/Seniors $15, $12, $10; Students $12, $10, $6

To purchase tickets, call 802-86-Flynn or visit www.flynntix.org

Season Sponsor: Champlain Orthodontic Associates

Concert Sponsor: Physician’s Computer Company

Media Sponsor: WCAX-TV3 | Accommodations Sponsor: Green Mountain Suites Hotel

GPS for the Brain

Sally's violinThis past Sunday’s rehearsal was the only one so far where I’ve had only one job the entire time- to lead a section.

During most rehearsals I switch roles, going (sometimes not so seamlessly) from concertmaster to soloist.  Physically, I really only stand up and move about three feet and turn to face the windows at the back of the rehearsal hall. That part is manageable and really not intimidating. Mentally, it’s a huge switch. Changing my mindset to be able to play my concerto in the technical aspect while weaving together the musical ideas to complete the picture is a daunting task. It’s not a mental state I can get to without preparation and a very good idea of where my music “head” is in relation to other emotions.

For example, if the thought ceaselessly running through my head is “Hmm, I wonder if there’s any coffee left in the kitchen… Also, can’t forget to study Asia and the Middle East for the geography quiz tomorrow…” I need to make a mental U-turn and find my bearings. It would be fantastically helpful to have a mental GPS…

Sally (far left) and VYO members in France - July 09

Sally (far left) and VYO members in France - July 09

I associate many musical ideas in the Saint-Saëns concerto with memories, and quite a few of them are from the VYO’s France Tour this summer. During one chorale melody I’m with my friends on the balcony of our hotel in Paris, watching the Eiffel Tower light up at midnight. At one point in the development section, I’m walking through the winding streets around the Museé d’Orsay looking for
somewhere to sit and eat lunch. The only memory I want to stay as far away from as possible is the jetlag. That disjointed, sleepy and over-caffeinated feeling (which is a pretty accurate description of most mornings in France!)…well, I don’t know exactly what that would sound like musically.

The concert still seems far away. It hasn’t quite hit me yet that in roughly three weeks, I actually have to perform. It won’t be too scary though, because no matter how nervous I get (and trust me I’ll be pretty terrified), about 80 of my friends will be there with me, and I know I can always look over my shoulder and remember they’re right behind me.

Sally Bruce, violin

Editor’s Note: Sally has been a VYOA member for 12 years; this is her second season as concertmaster for the VYO. She will be performing the first movement of Camille Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3 with the VYO during their upcoming Fall concerts:

Friday, October 2 at 8:00 pm – St. Mary’s Church, St. Albans

Sunday, October 4 at 3:00 pm – Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

For additional information on both concerts, visit /index.php?events/action/show/id/event/yr/2009/mon/10

(Photos: Stina Plant,  Duncan Yandell)

Betwixt And Between

Andrew - for blog

This is the betwixt and between time.

Reveille!, the VYO & VYP summer camp, was an intense and wholly absorbing time of music making. When a group of music-loving people get together and focus on it, it becomes like the whole world, and we live it and breathe it. Then, came the concerts at the end of the week, which seemed like the natural culmination of the flow. So, it is a bit like being dunked into cold water to find that it is over, and that “normal” life has to resume.

Now, as school starts up again and strange people all around us seem to believe that other things are just as important as music (!) we get distracted, start thinking in terms of calculus and passive voices and botanical subspecies, and the flourish of Reveille! begins to fade.

But, we are not done with this music yet.

A lot of the music we played during the week of Reveille! is destined for the season’s first big concert at the beginning of October. As the distractions get greater, so too does a different form of excitement build. That adrenalin rush is what we call “concerts.” The ceremonial aspect of a public concert makes it into a completely different experience from playing in a camp amongst our peers.

At a concert, we are really putting ourselves on the line. We are predicting that on October 2nd at St. Mary’s in St. Albans at precisely 8:00 pm, and again at on Sunday, October 4th at 3:00 pm at the Flynn Center; at those precise times and places, we shall all gather together, at our peak of concentration. Despite all the tasks we have to accomplish between now and then, this prediction of the future will happen. All the years of practice and all the hours of rehearsal will emerge as extraordinary skills so that we can coordinate, and offer our astounded public the brilliance of our artistic vision!

Yes, it’s pressure. It’s anxiety that focuses the mind wonderfully.

An actual concert is a more focused and intense short period in time in which we step up to the mark and “do our thing”. And they are great things that we are going to do: A brand new piece by a genuine living musical prodigy, still only 18 years old. A razzle-dazzle show-off violin concerto from our wonderful Sally Bruce. Solid classical music fun from Brahms. Eccentric musical meanderings from Percy Grainger, all topped off by the biggie, Romeo and Juliet in which we’ll strive to get everyone in our audience weeping openly.

Then back into the night, back home to all the other things, strengthened by the knowledge that, yes, we can do this. We can live our lives, but we have acquired the skill to all come together in one place, and deliver something extraordinary that none of us could do by ourselves.

Concert time is coming fast, folks! Show up to rehearsals and keep practicing.

Andrew Massey, VYO Interim Conductor

Gearing Up

The VYO has been in rehearsal since August in preparation for the upcoming Fall Concerts that kick off the 2009-10 concert season. In the coming weeks, both Interim Conductor Andrew Massey and soloist Sally Bruce will be adding their voices to the blog.