2010, a short review

So, what did I do this year?
Here's a few highlights:

- In February I went to Stuttgart for a few days and took lessons with Katarzyna Mycka. She is one of very few people worldwide that actually makes a living playing the marimba, she is without a doubt one of the greatest marimbists out there. I consider taking lessons with her a privilege, and I feel very lucky to know her and learn from her.

- In the end of February I was in Oslo, attending the Scandinavian Percussion Days festival. Students and teachers from all the different music universitys in Scandinavia was there. We played concerts for each other, attended clinics and masterclasses with some great teachers, and there was also a couple of concerts with the great Steven Schick. I've been a fan of his for a few years, and seeing him play live was just a great experience.

- From Oslo, I travelled to Miami. I was there a whole week, taking lessons with Svet Stoyanov, another great percussionist. In Miami I also met Krystina again, who I got to know at the International Katarzyna Mycka Marimba Festival in 2009. Krystina was also there to take lessons with Svet, and meeting her again was great. We also played some chamber music together.

This is Krystina, Svet and me on campus at the University of Miami.

- In April I played my first master concert. The master degree here in Trondheim require us to play three concerts, and this was my first. It was not a great experience. I had started practising for this concert too late, and ended up not being ready in time. The whole concert was more a fight for survival than anything else, and it didn't feel particularly good. Especially since I also premiered a piece that a friend wrote for me. It was definitely a good learning experience, but there and then, playing a concert I wasn't well enough prepared for was just awful. I've never been so stressed out in my whole life as I was the last couple of weeks before the concert. I was frustrated and nervous, and after the concert I didn't actually play the marimba again for a couple of months.

Photo taken by Ronny Lauten.

- A week after my master concert, I travelled to the States again. This time to Minneapolis, for the Marimba 2010 International Festival and Conference. This was a four-day marimba festival, with some of the best marimbists from around the world. With concerts from early morning to late night every day, it was exhausting, but also incredibly inspirational. This was the best marimba performers in the world, in one place! I heard a lot of great performances at the festival, and I got to know a few new people. Rubbing shoulders with these great performers, many of them people I have been looking up to for years,  was great, and exactly the motivational boost I needed after the dissappointment of my own concert just a week before.  

- In the summer I moved to a new appartment outside of the city. It's the first time I live all by myself. I've always had roommates before, and as much as I enjoyed living with friends, having a whole appartment for myself is also great. It's so much easier to work on my writing or compositions when there's noone else around. I can pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want, the way I want, without anyone else complaining, or using the TV when I want to whatch something else, playing music when I want it quiet, inviting other people when I want to be alone. As I said, I loved living with other people. The social aspects of it was great, but right now living alone is better.

- The fall of 2010 has been a lot slower than the spring. I have been somewhat struggling with money issues, and have been working on cutting my spendings to a minimum. I've been reading a lot about minimalism. It appeals to me, and although I don't think minimalism is a fitting lifestyle for me, I will definitely try to employ some of the minimalist principals in my own life. I also decided that I would not take any lessons this semester. Partly because I couldn't afford it, but also because I wanted to see how much I could do on my own, without any help. This is more or less going to be the reality when I'm not a student anymore, and I think it's a good idea to learn how to work independently. I will take more lessons in the spring, especialy before my next master concert, which is in early May.

- In November I decided to try the NaNoWriMo-challenge of writing a 50.000 word novel in a month. It was a great experience. I finished my story on November 28th, with 50.189 words and two days to spare! The novel is pure crap, and need some heavy rewriting and editing if I'm ever going to show it to someone, but it was still an incredibly satisfying thing to do. At the end of November I sat with the feeling that "if I can write a novel in a month, what else can I do?" How much composing can I do in a month, for example? How much music can I learn in a month? Can I draw a comic book in a month? These are all things that I might try out in 2011. I just love the idea of a crazy marathon month of pure creativity, and it opened my eyes to some new possibilities. I'm not sure if I'm ever going to edit my novel. I might just let it be the way it is, as a testament to NaNoWriMo 2010, but it's not about the quality. It's about finishing something big. It's about getting in touch with your own creativity, which I think everyone should do once in a while, no matter who they are or what they do for a living.

I'm a winner!

Right now I'm celebrating Christmas with my family, and looking forward to 2011. 2011 is going to be a great year, I just know it! I have lots of plans and ideas, which I'm not going to share with you know, but I feel that I need to top 2010, which was also a great year.

Oh, and in June I played a solo percussion concert with the pieces "Castle of the Mad King" and "To the Earth". Two very different pieces, to put it mildly. The picture on my concert poster got a lot of attention:


Happy New Year to everone. See you in 2011!

9 Essentials

I have made a list of nine things I couldn't live without. I tried to list ten things, but I couldn't really come up with more than nine. Anyway, here it is, in no particular order:

1. My marimba:


2. My mallet bag:


3. My computer:


4. My cellphone (as much as I hate to admit it, I couldn't do without it...):


5. My jacket. (It's really two jackets that I put together, but it's so comfortable! It's starting to get really worn out, though... *sob*):


6. Hjalmar, my monkey. I don't really need him, but he has incredible sentimental value, and is therefore worth mentioning:


7. Water. Let's face it, noone can survive without water:


8. The Lord of the Rings. I've been thinking a lot about which book I would chose if I were to only own one. There are so many books that I really love, but if I were to pick just one, it would probably be LOTR. There's just so many details and nuances in this book, so you always discover new things, even if you've read it many times before:


9. Hot dogs. I can't help it, I just love hot dogs:


So that's my list right now. What's your list?

No Shave November

So, in addition to doing the NaNoWriMo-challenge this November, I have also been doing the No Shave November-challenge. It basically goes like this: don't shave in November. Pretty easy, especially since I haven't played any important concerts this month. (It's probably not a good thing standing in the middle of a professional orchestra, looking like the abominable snowman, and solo or chamber music recitals are also not great arenas for a sasquatch...)

Anyway, since I didn't have any important concerts, appearances, weddings or some other arrangement where it would be expected to come clean shaven, I figured I might as well give it a go. I also felt it would be kind of poetic, not to shave before my NaNoWriMo-novel was finished. It would be fun to see how big a beard I could grow in a month, right?

Well... I gotta admit, at the beginning of the month I was hoping to end up with something like this:


Yeah, my photoshop skills are crappy at best, but you get the point: untamed, wild. A nice, full beard. Those are the characteristics of the beard I was hoping to grow.

In reality, though, this is what I was able to cook up over the course of a whole freakin' month:


Now, that's just plain embarrassing! And I can't help but blame my parents, who didn't give me better beard-growing genes than this. I mean, I have known 14-year old boys who could grow a better beard than what I was able to do!  I'm 25!! I should be able to grow a beard, if I want! And it sucks, because I really wanted a beard, goddammit!

This is not at all what I had hoped to achieve this month, so right now I'm just looking forward to getting rid of this sad excuse of a beard first thing tomorrow morning.


 

Yesss!

This is going to be a short blog post, because I have already written over five thousand words today. My neck and shoulders acke! I just wanted to tell you guys that I finished my NaNoWriMo-novel just a few minutes ago. 50.189 words, 66 pages (A4).Yeah, that's right. I wrote a novel in a month!

This is just immensely satisfying, and I am so glad that I did the NaNoWriMo-challenge. It's been a blast, and actually not as difficult as I feared it would be. I guess, if you just put your mind to it, you can do pretty much anything, so my only question right now is: what now?

Well, I will probably need to put hundreds of hours of editing into this book before I can even consider showing it to anyone else, so that's gonna take a few months...

But I'm not going to think about that now. I'm going to celebrate! Tomorrow, I will buy myself a cake, and eat it. That's my plan for tomorrow. Yey!!

But I haven't posted anything on my blog for so long, so I can't just leave you without putting anything useful into this post.

Here's a link to a great blog post from Keri Smith. If you're in any form of creative profession, you should definitely read it: Secrets Shared. Check it out!

I will start updating my blog on a more regular basis again soon, so thank you all for your patience in November.

So long!

 

NaNoWriMo and winter

First of all: I'm sorry that I haven't updated here in a while now. With NaNoWriMo there has just been a lot of writing lately, so the blog hasn't been a high priority.

NaNoWriMo has been really great so far! Last week I was really inspired, and I got a good start on my novel. This week has been slower, which pretty much was expected. I'm a little behind on my wordcount right now, but not by much, so I don't think it will be a problem catching up. I just need to watch my wordcount this week, so I'm not too much behind. I'm hoping to get a lot of writing done this weekend, so hopefully I will catch up, and maybe even get ahead then.

Last saturday I met with a few other people here in Trondheim who are also doing the NaNoWriMo-challenge. I wasn't able to be at the meeting more than an hour because I had a concert to play the same day, but it was great meeting up with other writers. We are having a new meeting this saturday, and I'm really looking forward to it. We're basically just gonna meet at the library in the morning, socialize, and write, write, write for a few hours. I'm hoping to get a lot done then.

NaNoWriMo isn't actually as hard as I had feared it would be. To get to the 50.000 wordcount at the end of the month, I need to write an average of 1667 words every day. This seemed like a lot before I started, but it's actually not a big problem. If I'm inspired, and I know what to write, I can get it done in under an hour. Of course, some times I have to stop and think what my next move will be, but usually it doesn't take me long to get on track again. This novel-writing thing has been a great experience so far, and I do expect to have at least 50.000 words at the end of the month.

I'm not gonna tell you about my story. At least not yet. Let me just say this: It has potential to be a really good story. It probably won't be good at the end of November, but if I ever get to editing it and really finishing it, I think it could be a great story, and that's helping me write it. It's so much easier when I have a story that could actually be something if I just finish it.

Winter

Winter has truly come to Trondheim. This week we've been seing temperatures between five and ten below zero, and there's been a lot of snow. The last few days has been cold, but also really nice, with clear blue skies, sun, and snow covering pretty much everything.



Tonight, I decided to go for a short walk. I ended up being outside for almost an hour. It's really refreshing to go for a walk when it's like this outside. I could really feel the cold in my cheeks, I could hear the snow under my shoes, I could look up and see the stars. It was really silent outside, and the few sounds I could hear was somewhat muffled by all the snow.

I used to live almost in the city center. I could walk there in 15 minutes, but this summer I had to find a new apartment, and I ended up moving out of the city. I now live higher up, which means it's a little colder here in the winter (usually by a couple of degrees). So, while the snow often melts during the day in the city, it's just cold enough up here for the snow to hold. To get to my school, I now have to take the tram for 20 minutes, and there's also some walking, but I usually don't mind. And especially on days like this. When I want to go for a walk, the forest is just a few minutes away.

Tonight I ended up walking around a small lake, not far from my apartment. On some of the wider paths I had street lights to help me see, but there were also a few tracks without any light at all. The only reason I could see where I was going was the clear sky, and the white snow. I also know my way around the lake pretty well, which helped. But it was really nice being out in the woods tonight. All I could hear was my own breathing, the snow, creaking under my feet, and the occational dog, barking somewhere in the distance. It was very calming. The world, it seems, are a lot quieter and calmer when there's snow in it.

Blog Concert: Prelude no. 1 by Ney Rosauro

This is "Prelude no. 1" by Ney Rosauro.

I have also made a repertoire list. This is a list of pieces I play / have played, and you can find it here.

In November, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo. This means that I will have a lot of writing to do the next month. (A lot!!) Therefore, I might not be able to update this blog as much as I would like. I will try to write at least one post every week, but I can't promise anything.

 

 

Repertoire

This is a list of pieces in my repertoire. This list will, of course, be edited as I learn new pieces.

Solo Percussion:
Pezzo Da Concerto for Solo Snare Drum - Nebojsa Zivkovic
She Who Sleeps with a Small Blanket - Kevin Volans
The Anvil Chorus - David Lang
The King of Denmark - Morton Feldman
Castle of the Mad King - Nebojsa Zivkovic
To the Earth - Frederic Rzewski
6&8 - Tobias Broström

Solo Marimba:
Beads of Glass - Gordon Stout
Dream of the Cherry Blossoms - Keiko Abe
Wind Sketch - Keiko Abe
Two Mexican Dances - Gordon Stout
Marimba Dances 1. mvt. - Ross Edwards
Kaskada - Eckhart Kopetzki
Rhythm Song - Paul Smadbeck
Rotation no. 4 - Eric Sammut
Prelude no. 1 - Ney Rosauro
Libertango - Eric Sammut
Ilijas - Nebojsa Zivkovic
Tangaroa - Gareth Farr
Fertility Rites - Christos Hatzis
Merlin - Andrew Thomas
From a Norwegian Landscape - Øistein Sommerfeldt
Marimba d'Amore - Keiko Abe

Solo with Orchestra:
Tales from the Center of the Earth - Nebojsa Zivkovic

Chamber Music:
Kembang Suling - Gareth Farr
Passacaglia - Anna Ignatowitz
Once Removed - John Fitz Rogers
Ultimatum II - Nebojsa Zivkovic
Twine - Rolf Wallin
Marimba Spiritual - Minoru Miki
Nagoya Marimbas - Steve Reich
42nd Street Rondo - Wayne Siegel
Love Songs - John Thrower
Pagan Prayer - Gareth Farr

Commissioned pieces:
Ballade - Øyvind Moe
Suite Nova Occursa (for Marimba and Cembalo) - Erling Neergård
Concert Etudes - Peter Klatzow (Co-commission)

So many ideas...

I have so many ideas, so many projects I want to do, that sometimes it's really hard to get anything done at all. It's just too overwhelming to start chopping away at that long list of ambitious projects.

There are so many great pieces I want to play, both on the marimba, but also percussion pieces. It would take me many years just to learn all these pieces, and I also constantly discover new pieces. It is great, by all means, but I wish I had the time and energy to do everything.

I want to compose. I haven't written much music before, but it's not because a lack of ideas. I have a folder on my computer marked "ideas". It is loaded with Finale files containing short ideas. Some of these ideas are garbage, I'll admit. But some of them are jewels, just waiting to be turned into a beautiful piece of music. I have ideas for operas, requiems, symphonies, and of course also chamber music and solo pieces. There's just too much!

I want to write. I also have a folder on my computer for story ideas. This folder is full of Word files. Some of them are only a sentence or two. Barely an idea. Others are many pages long. I have plenty ideas for books. I am actually struggling to decide which of them to use for my NaNoWriMo novel.

I want to draw. I used to make comics a few years ago, but I quit, because it took too much of my time, and I wanted to give more of my attention to music (which, after all, is my number one passion). Still, I loved both writing and drawing comics, and it is definitely something I want to pick up again some time in the future. I have (believe it or not) a file somewhere on my computer marked "comics ideas". Guess what's in it. Yeah, heaps of ideas for everything from short comic strips to huge, ambitious graphic novels.

Often, when I have time to start on a new project, I end up not being able to decide which one to go with. I can just sit at my desk, thinking back and forth. Using my time deciding, instead of actually doing something. Often, during these sessions, I actually end up coming up with even more new ideas, which just makes the whole thing even worse.

Usually, I end up in my sofa, completely exhausted, with the TV on and a good movie or TV-show in the DVD player.

Does anyone else have this problem?

 

Merlin (Andrew Thomas)

Sorry, this is not going to be another blog concert. Not yet, although I might film it some time in the not-too-distant future.

I will however write a few words about "Merlin" by Andrew Thomas, which, in my opinion, is one of the truly great pieces in the marimba literature.

Andrew Thomas

The piece consists of two movements: the first one slow and  chorale-like, the second upbeat and "groovy". The first movement is just absolutely beautiful, with long, slow frases. It also presents much of the harmonics that are used in the second movement, which is much more complex. The second movement is technically the most demanding. There's a lot of notes (The movement is basically a long string of 16-notes...), but also here really long frases and beautiful harmonics. This just makes this movement even harder, because if you play a few wrong notes, you also miss the harmonics. And then there's the trick of making the whole thing flow, and not sound like you are struggling to keep up with the tempo, even though your hands need to be moving outragously fast at times.

Yeah, this is a difficult piece.

I have been working on this for a couple of months now, and today was the first time I dared to try play it in concert. This was an in-house concert where the students of NTNU Institute of Music here in Trondheim can play for other students. (We have concerts like this almost every week). Usually there's not a lot of people in the audience, and the ones that are there are mostly people you know. So this is a great place to try out new pieces.

The concert went really well, and it got me thinking about pieces like "Merlin". This is a difficult piece, but it is also one of the true "classics" for marimba. It's a real morale boost to play a piece of this difficulty, and to feel that I did a good job afterwards. To feel that I managed to both play (mostly) the right notes, but also, even more importantly,  make great music. I feel lucky, to be at a skill level on the instrument that makes me capable of playing pieces like this. It is a privilege, and a blessing, and it makes me really happy.

This is the reason why I play the marimba, and it is finally starting to pay off, artistically. It just makes me love the instrument even more.

Okay, this is turning into kind of a mushy blog post, so I will stop right here. I just want to say, if you want to hear me play this amazing piece, and you happen to be in Trondheim this Saturday, I will be playing it at a concert in the Vår Frue Church at 3 pm. Free admission. On Saturday.

Peace.

Blog Concert: From a Norwegian Landscape

This is "From a Norwegian Landscape" by the Norwegian composer Øistein Sommerfeldt. It's a piece originally written for guitar which I transcribed for marimba a couple of years ago.

I have had it in my repertoire for quite a while, and there is also a youtube video of it from a little over a year ago. I do think that this is a better version, though.

I discovered this piece while I was still in high school (probably about eight years ago). I heard the original recording by guitarist Erik Stenstadvold, and I just fell in love with it right away. I love the simple beauty of it, and the way Sommerfeldt incorporates Norwegian folk tunes in his piece. It's just a really "Norwegian sounding" piece through and through.

And it does sound really good on the marimba (in my opinion). So, two years ago I suddenly remembered this piece again, and started to wonder if it would be possible to play it on the marimba. I found the sheet music for it, and started learning it, and as it turned out, I didn't really have to make any changes at all to the original music.It was all playable on the marimba.

Norwegian composers should write more pieces for marimba inspired by our folk music. It sounds great on the instrument (it's probably because of the heavy usage of quarters and fifths. I love quarters and fifths!), and I would love to play more pieces with this kind of strong connection to Norwegian culture.

I hope you all like it!

 

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