The Semester so far…

Hello! See I wrote another post pretty quickly! Even though I just finished my third week of the Spring 2016 semester and living the fourth week in it has a been an eventful one so far.

I didn’t mention how amazing my harp lessons are in my last post.  Well they are awesome.  Barbara Allen is an amazing harpist, person and teacher.   If I ever play as half as well as she does with that much grace I’ll be happy.   If there is a passage I am just not getting, she breaks it down for me and then I have it forever.  It’s really lovely.  And she likes to give me snacks sometimes because she knows that  the days I have can be really long. Snacks make everything better.  Thanks Barbara! 😀 ❤
I am currently learning the Debussy Dances, a piece that I never imagined ever learning. It is gorgeous but hard.  Some of it I am picking up so fast and other parts are still frustrating.   Barbara is so encouraging and even when I don’t have faith in myself she does.
There was a hard passage in the Debussy Trio and of course it is a small harp solo and I couldn’t figure it out alone.  So the next lesson I showed it to Barbara and by the end of the lesson I got it and I got it to tempo in no time.  I texted her later that day thanking her so much and that she’s a miracle worker! And she wrote that it was all my hard work and that she was just showing me how to approach that passage.
I am also learning a couple of other things and keeping up with orchestra concert repertoire.  It is a balancing act and can get pretty crazy deciding on what to look at.

Here’s a throwback picture to the first time I played in front of Barbara. I was at a Long Island Harp Society meeting for evaluations. Barbara was the adjudicator.  I was a Freshman in college.
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My Graduate Seminar Elective and my Entrepreneurial Musician classes are new classes for me this semester and are keeping me on my toes.  They are really making me think.

My Seminar Elective is called Artists As Activists.  It is making re examine like what am I really doing with my art? Do I have a message or a cause? It can be a really simple answer or something more complex.   One answer is that I want audiences to learn and experience the joys of the harp.  It is an unusual instrument and everyone should see one and hear one.  But I can also express through my art more about causes I’m really passionate about.  Like issues in this world that are troubling me.  I know some harpists who do use their music as platform for current events like my previous harp teacher and friend Brandee Younger.

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I hope that one day I can be like her (And I always found her really cool by the way).   Maybe through this class I can be inspired and figure out how to do it in my own Skyla-like way.  She just released her second album and it sounds awesome! I wanted to go to see her at her album release party at Dizzy’s in NYC but I’ve been sick this whole week. This is another reason why I have been able to write this post so quickly.
I did do something pretty “brave” in that class.  We had to do a short concert so I played “Little Angel” from the Children’s Hour and a piece where I sang and played my harp. I haven’t sung publicly in quite a while and I thought why not try it again.  I really do like to sing and play the harp.  As a classical harpist I don’t do that too much but when I get the chance and if my allergies aren’t affecting my throat I sometimes get the courage and do it.    It was in front of mostly singers too which can be pretty intimating  especially if you don’t know them that well.  But it all worked out and I learned that my classmates are nice people and very encouraging.

My Entrepreneurial Musician class is making me face what a lot of us in graduate school who are first years really don’t want to think about right now: What’s next when we graduate.  What are our business plans?   We have to really be honest with ourselves and think about it.  It is kinda scary.  I know I have a dream, a goal but I also have to make a living.  I am going to focus on Trio Delphi for my “final project” for this class. That’s my flute, harp and guitar trio. I am thinking my next post should just be about them.  There’s a lot we want to do and we need to think of ways to get ourselves out there and get more gigs!  Here’s a picture of us.  This one is my favorite since we are all smiling.
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Last week for our Entrepreneurial Musician class we went to Le Poisson Rouge.  Our professor Justin Kantor is one of the two owners of the super cool venue and he told us his story.

I am very happy that I will be going to orchestra tomorrow! I am well enough and feel so much better than I did earlier in the week.  I really wasn’t well enough to go to class and go to orchestra rehearsal.   It really got me upset since I don’t like to miss class or rehearsal.   I push myself normally but that can set you back even further.   So I decided to do the responsible thing and stayed out.   It will be better for me in the long run.
I also have an orchestra concert on February 26 and other concerts in the future! I need to be well!

~Skyla

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Fall 2015

I was going to post more frequently but that never really happened! Life became so busy. A good busy fortunately. I love Mannes and the experiences I had in the first semester were amazing.  I learned so much in that short span of time.

This blog entry will be about last semester and all the cool performances I was lucky to be a part of.

Late September 2015
One week before the concert I was asked to be a part of the Queensboro Symphony Orchestra to play in the premier of “The King of the Mask.” I only had half a rehearsal and then the concert. I worked on the parts alone a lot, and  listened to the piano score and played with that.  It was different than I expected it to be live with the orchestra.  Paul Joseph, the composer of the piece was great and really helpful and understanding.  It was a good learning experience overall. It was my first time going into a concert like that.  The venue was at a beautiful church in Flushing, Queens.
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October 2015
I had my first repertoire rehearsal with the Mannes Orchestra! I was so excited.  It was the piece Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz.  It is a very involved harp part.  It is a difficult piece for harp.  Some parts of the piece can go extremely fast!  We had about two or three run throughs of the second movement which is the only movement the harp is in .
During the first rehearsal of the part and my first orchestra rehersal ever at Mannes a harp string popped! I had time to quietly fix it since it wasn’t my movement yet.   I tried to be as graceful and quick as possible… it popped again!!!! That time more people in the orchestra saw me.  It was a memorable first rehearsal for me for sure!!

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November 2015
When I found out that I was going to a part of this concert I was super excited.  I was about to perform at the biggest venue yet in my lifetime.  The Mannes Orchestra was going to have a concert at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center!!  They needed two harps for one piece.  The other harpist, Elena and I were chosen!   The piece was called Coptic Light by Morton Feldman.  It was a very modern piece.  A lot of counting was involved… so so much counting.   We were playing throughout most of the piece but we had chords that had to be played on certain beats. And at times Elena and I couldn’t listen to each other since out parts were different.

Because Alice Tully venue is part of the union, stage hands were the only ones who could touch our harps.  If we needed them moved we had to ask them. I quickly got used to that luxury.  I took so many pictures. It was amazing to be there.   I sat in the audience before it started and listened to the other pieces in rehearsal.  My parents, my mom’s friends and my friends were there to cheer me on in the front row.  It was an amazing, awesome night.   My first time performing at Lincoln Center and hopefully not my last.

 

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Elena and I

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And of course I took a harp selfie on the stage

A couple of weeks after I had the opportunity to perform the Debussy Trio Sonata.  This is a beautiful piece and  an honor to learn it throughout the semester and then to finally play it.  It is a very famous chamber piece and it won’t be my first and last experience with it.   The flute, harp and viola parts alone are challenging and then putting it together was another task. But we did it and it went very well!!

 

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Petra, Vera and I

 

December 2015
Towards the end of the semester, a week and half before finals began  I was a part  of something I never had any experience in doing before  I was part of an opera; L’elisir d’Amore.  Yes I was a part of  Amahl and Night Visitors as a Freshman in college.   This was different.  Mannes Opera does an incredible production.  The Maestro for the Mannes Opera also is a conductor for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.  When I found out about this it was extremely overwhelming.  I was so nervous! Maestro happens to be a nice guy and very understanding.  Working with him was wonderful.   The harp is needed for only one scene but it is the most important scene.  It happens during the Tenor Aria which is the only aria in the whole opera.  During most of that 6/7 minutes it is just the harp with the Tenor.  The harpist follows the Tenor and she has to slow down or speed up depending on what he does.  This was a totally new concept for me.   I kept being told by others “This is a very famous aria and everyone will know if you mess up…no pressure!”  That really helped! I already put so much pressure on myself since I wanted to make a good first impression!!  But I did it! The aria went extremely well.  There was so much applause  and “Bravos!”… it went on for a very long time.   It felt very, very good.  What a relief! I hope to do another Opera again.

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Pic of harp at the Lynch Theater at John Jay College

 

I see how supportive students are of each other at this school. Juts little things I see. And a couple of students in my other classes told me what a wonderful  job I did on the harp opera solo.  I am so glad I decided to come here. I will write more about what is happening in 2016 very soon!

 

~Skyla

Mannes Orientation and Week 1

I am already in my third week of Grad school. I have been super busy! I meant to make two posts about Orientation and my first week so I’ll make it one giant post!  I am writing from the super nice computer lab here as I wait for my class to start.

Orientation was overall good.  There were a couple bumps in the road like registering.  Since the system kept messing up and I was put in cancelled classes!  My classes weren’t appearing on the site and I couldn’t see what room I was in. It was pretty stressful but thankfully it all worked out. I am in three “traditional”classes (theory, dictation, intro to grad students), and two performance classes (chamber and orchestra). And I have a harp lesson once a week.

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Yay my student ID card!

The University Center is gorgeous! It is a “green” building and extremely cool looking. A couple of pictures from the inside and outside.  This is where we had a welcome meeting and where my orchestra rehearsals will be.

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I did meet some nice students and met the two other harpists.  One overheard me talking to other students wondering who the other harpists are.   She said “Excuse me I heard the word harp is anyone here a harpist?” and I was like “YES THAT’S ME!” Let’s just say I was happy to meet her. Thankfully my enthusiasm didn’t scare her away.   I got coffee with one of them one day and walked around 5th Avenue another.  She showed me where the big and lovely Barnes and Noble was. I love Barnes and Noble and I am glad it is in walking distance. I bump into one of the harpists pretty frequently in the building which is nice.

It is great to have other harpists.  One is going for her Masters like me and the other is a professional studies diploma student.  It is a post-graduate degree.

I found the harps and started practicing right away! I even took my first harp-Mannes selfie.

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Right after three days of orientation I had two weddings.  One was on Thursday and the other on Saturday.  It was a bit of a hectic week!  I was very sleepy but it was worth it!

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Harp at the Crest Hollow Country Club that Thursday night.  I couldn’t believe how fast it got dark… good thing the cocktail hour was done and didn’t have to play in the dark!

Here’s a picture from the Saturday wedding at NYIT de Serversky’s Mansion.  It was beautiful and I am glad the photographer was nice and took my IPhone so I had pics of myself!  Really a lovely venue and everyone who worked there was very nice to me!
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So for the first week of classes…
On Tuesdays and Thursdays my commute is early. Too early!! If you know me I am not a morning person. I hate waking up early and now I have to be up at 6 am for at least two days.  I avoided early classes like the plague in college but I can’t escape a 9 am class here. When it says 9 am that means I have to be up by 6am to make a 7 am train.  It does not take two hours from LI to Penn Station but the Long Island Rail Road can have its bad days.  It is better to be early then super late.
Parking is also hard near me.  Everyone takes my train since they run pretty frequently.  My parking karma has been working so far but I will never know when the luck will run out.
My classes are small and the professors seem nice.  I am already learning things in a new way which is cool.  Even my dictation skills are better than I thought they would be and I’m not the greatest at it. I’m surprising myself.  I am trying to make friends and talk to kids in my class.
It is strange being back in school and not being at Adelphi.  I really love Adelphi and have such fond memories.  I feel like I’ll wake up at the PAC but this isn’t a dream.  I do really love coming to Mannes and love the city so much.  I am getting used to it quickly.
I love my new harp teacher and my lessons are awesome! I will write about my performance classes in another post since they haven’t really started for me yet. Harp isn’t in all the orchestra pieces and chamber is still trying coordinate everything.
In the meantime here are pictures of the W13 street building outside, inside and the views.

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Welcome to my blog!!

Hello to all who are reading this! My name is Skyla.  This is me and my harp.

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I am a 24 year old harpist who lives on Long Island.  I graduated Adelphi University in May 2013.  After a year of so much practicing and hard work,  I auditioned for music schools for graduate school. Most of them were in NYC and one was in Connecticut.  I got into the schools with scholarships that I really wanted to go to. I was lucky, I had my choices and I was really glad all that time practicing and determination paid off! I couldn’t believe when I got my Mannes acceptance! It was my first choice and I accepted.

I know going to Mannes will be so different than going to Adelphi. I loved Adelphi so much. I grew as a person and a harpist.  The campus was gorgeous and I have wonderful memories there with my friends. The music department was very good for a small department. It was improving every year and they really welcomed me. I had excellent music professors who were really brilliant and also 99% of them were understanding and kind.

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From my Senior Recital at Adelphi University in the Concert Hall.

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A picture after an Adelphi Orchestra Concert.  We couldn’t get everyone to look at one camera!

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When we went to the Cloisters in the city!

Oh yeah I meant to write this sooner. I love photographs.  I love taking them and posting them (Instagram is a lot of fun for me). I used to do 35mm Film photography for many years when I was younger. I love the darkroom! I have almost moved fully to digital now. I have a lovely DSLR camera. Maybe I’ll post some of my photos on here eventually and explain more of my photography past.
OK back to talking about Mannes…

Mannes will be on W13 Street in New York CIty.  It is a very well known music conservatory. It is very small which I like. I prefer small schools.  Even though it is hard to keep any kind of secrets!

I will be just focusing on my music. It won’t be like undergrad.  I will be challenged musically and I know it will be crazy hard at times.

I am so ready for it!  I know I want to do this for a living and I know in order to do that I have to learn more and be pushed. I love the city so I am looking forward to being there almost everyday.  I will be commuting!

I decided to start a blog about my graduate school adventures.  I will have amazing opportunities there and hopefully meet cool and interesting people.   I will start documenting my journey on August 24th during orientation week.  I know it will be a lot different than the first orientation week at Adelphi.
I have an orchestra audition for the Mannes orchestra on that Wednesday.  I want to do the best I can when it happens! I know there are two other harpists starting with me.  I am excited to meet them and I hope they are nice.  I was the lone harpist at Adelphi and I always wanted harp friends around my age!  Other harpists are really the only other people that get your instrument and  the “harp life.”

So that’s all for now! Maybe I’ll write sooner than August 24th to talk about my other interests when I am not “harping” around.

I don’t know of a good way to sign off so goodbye!

❤ Skyla