FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - 2010 ASTA (string teachers' association, not travel agents) convention
Old Mar 8, 10, 12:10 pm
  #9  
violist
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: IAD, BOS, PVD
Programs: UA, US, AS, Marriott, Radisson, Hilton
Posts: 7,200
Woke early, again, to attend a collegiate-level master
class with Donald McInnes. Prof. McInnes is perhaps the
grayest eminence of the field - student of Primrose (and
his successor at USC) and teacher of many of the next two
or three generations of viola soloists. His Captain Kirklike
presence and delivery are a little odd for a music teacher,
but whatever works. The first performer, who reminded me in
demeanor and appearance of my friend Alysia, offered the
Rebecca Clarke sonata, a work underappreciated outside the
violist world but quite well known within. Alysia (not her
real name) is very gifted, but Prof. McInnes gave his best
imitation of the Negotiator as he altered both her stance
and attitude to create a much more powerful performance. It
was inspiring to see a master (much though his style I found
jarring and uncongenial to me) work wonders in just half an
hour. The second student, a meek little thing whose name and
piece I've forgotten, was treated quite differently - Prof.
McInnes was gentle and smooth as satin, bringing out the
best in a student who had much less to offer at this stage
in her development. The hour was over too soon.

There was a coffee break built in, during which time I went
to the UPS store to mail some parts I'd marked up to an
orchestra I'm playing with next month. The UPS person
spent 15 minutes screwing up the previous person's shipment,
so the line grew with the accompaniment of taptaptapping of
impatient feet. My friend Kay joined behind me, and we had
a bit of a chat, and then it was my turn. The UPS person
seemed a little more efficient in my case - but managed to
label the package with my return address as the destination,
which I caught afterward on examining my invoice, so back
to cut in line and have this fixed, which involved voiding
the last transaction (I had to sign a second time) and
overcharging me $4 for the correction (I had to sign a 3rd
time, but didn't check the invoice, as there were places to
go and things to do. I ran at top speed (yay for stents) to
the next session, where I had the honor of introducing the
pre-college violin master class and its leader from Indiana
University, Brenda Brenner. Prof. Brenner approaches music
from a much more Suzuki standpoint than do many of the
clinicians; she is also perceptive and effective. Our
students gave the Eccles Sonata (a piece I played decades
ago on the viola but which has become a Suzuki standby) and
the spectacular Kreisler Praeludium and Allegro - both big
achievements for kids in the late single and early double
digits respectively. Prof. Brenner's own performance had a
dual focus - on the students, of course, and on ways for
teachers (i.e., 90% or more of the audience) to communicate
via new channels with their students. Valuable in different
(and perhaps more substantial) ways from the previous
master class.

Back to the exhibits, where I found Prof. McInnes and talked
to him a while; Prof. Brenner came by and chatted, and I
lost track of what I had come over to say, one of the
disadvantages of encroaching senility. Visited a few more
vendors, then off to rest the body, rest the body.

Today for lunch I tried La Fontana, the Hilton restaurant,
also an iDine establishment. No fountain in sight, the vista
(obscured, thank goodness, by a translucent plastic shield)
being of the overflow parking of the Great America amusement
park. A simple request: bacon avocado burger, rare. What
came out: a bacon avocado burger, rare. Hallelujah.

The meat was first-rate though preformed and probably
thawed. The bun, of which I ate half, was of excellent
quality. Fresh and tasty lettuce, tomato, red onion.
Four slices of crisp but not hard ?hickory?-smoked bacon
and a half avocado sliced and fanned on top. A really good
sandwich. The accompaniment: shoestring fries on which the
tendency of inexperienced kitchens to try too hard came out
- the potatoes were okay, and they were crisp enough, but
the herb blend shake, Mexican shake, and gratings of grana
all together were quite too all but. Service was prompt and
smiling, and a Guinness was nicely poured.

Back to the hall for the Strings magazine strawberry whipped
cream cake, which was rich and tasty and caused me to sleep
through my friend Bill's talk and some other events.

The closing ceremony involved the Quartet San Francisco,
which I'd always promised my friend Joel (cellist of both
this group and, formerly, one of mine) I'd listen to. Of
course, now that I had the opportunity to hear them, he's
moved to some remote place, and they've replaced him with
some glamor girl (an excellent musician as well). A fun
performance with a guest appearance by the kids of the
Crowden Middle School (as Jeremy Cohen, the first violinist,
points out, it was after all a string teachers' convention,
so what more appropriate than to have students performing
along with their mentors and teachers?).

I toddled in around midnight; next door a party was going
on; annoying but not horrid, and I dozed on and off until
the noise tapered off around 1.
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