Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kiradjieff at CCM

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Assistant Principal and Third Trumpet, Christopher Kiradjieff led an excellent two-hour masterclass at CCM today. Never at a loss for great comments and very helpful suggestions, Chris heard four students play some of those familiar excerpts that never seem to go away. He followed with a very productive coaching of the full student trumpet section, extras included, on Pines of Rome.

For any note-takers, there was no lack of material shared. Here are just a few keepers that I captured. First up . . . .

  • Clarity is more important than speed. Individual, distinct notes is the goal.
  • Slow-and-clear is better than fast and not-so-clear.
  • Once it is clean, then speed can happen. Speed is the last item to add.
Bartok Concerto for Orchestra:
  • Movement I: icy smooth and soft, secure starts, no vibrato, phrases must have direction, think crescendo between bars
  • Fugue: strong and uniform, marked articulations, proper length of opening quarter, emphasize notes that tend to get lost
  • Movement II: mechanical, clock-like, more obvious dynamic contrasts, don't be afraid of doing "duts" when needed, instead of all "duhs"
  • Discover the "leaning, heavier" notes in the chorale.
  • Movement V: 16ths clearly nailed dead in time, very steady, strong and articulate, drive the triplets
Gershwin Concerto in F:
  • Don't be afraid of taking control, be soloistic.
  • Develop the long notes immediately.
  • Louder, more schmaltz
  • Not too soft
  • Wail, and be generous with the vibrato.
  • The huge intervals become a non-issue when big, singing vibrato notes are what it's about.
Mahler 3, Chorale from Movement VI:
  • Slow, soft and connected
  • Come on in clearly on the first 2 notes, and then sail.
  • Bring out slightly the "leaning" notes.
Isolated practice suggestions in general: slow, segmented practice; fluttertongue the hard stuff; use different rhythms; exaggerate the weak notes. Your playing has to be distinct at a distance.

Paraphrasing some highlights: Details are all good. The audience will notice. The integrity of the section, the whole ensemble and of the performance is at stake. Everything in the part matters and must be brought out. Rhythm, clarity and musicianship must rule! Exaggeration, projection, great sense of rhythm, knowing the key notes to be emphasized in a phrase, staccatissimo - all of these must be able to happen. Sound has to be full and secure. Instinctive, steady rhythm must dominate.

Chris has a gift for making the mechanical demands musical demands, which makes his approach fun and gets nice results. Little needed to be said about trumpet technique because the musical goals were clearly communicated and got the job done. It's like: "Here's exactly what we want. Now let's do it!"