Thursday, November 3, 2016

I've moved!

Hi everyone! If you still read/follow this blog, I'd like to invite you over to my new home on the web.

www.yvonnesmithviola.com

AND

www.la-speranza.com

Come see what I've been up to and say hello!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

gratitude for slow movements

So, it's been a while. The remnants of Hurricane Patricia have meant a very rainy day for Houston, so after a concert with Mercury was over in the afternoon, I came home and got into comfortable clothes ASAP.
I am so happy to be playing with Mercury this year. The rehearsals, the people, the wonderful music, and the concerts are the highlights of every month.


Among the repertoire we have performed so far are two double concerti by Bach. One is for two violins and one is for violin and oboe. When I was first beginning to get into music, around age 11 or 12, I LOVED listening to these wonderful pieces of music. I had a CD of Hilary Hahn performing these pieces and I listened to it so much it began to skip. A few years later I discovered recordings of these pieces on baroque instruments at the library in Baltimore and fell in love all over again. I also really enjoyed listening to Haydn string quartets and Mozart symphonies. My dad had a large study full of scores and I would follow along in one while listening to its recording. I dreamt longingly for the day I would get to perform these works. The realization that the day is here, that I am now doing what my 13-year-old self wanted so intensely is truly beyond description.

When we began rehearsals for the violin and oboe concerto for when we performed it back in August and then again when we began rehearsals for the double violin concerto, I was transported back to the following scene when we played the slow second movements (recordings are from what I could find online):
Peace, enveloping me as I sat at the foot of my bed, listening to these sounds come out of the CD player that was set up in the closet. My backpack was a few feet away, and there was homework that was waiting for me. But it could wait longer. I wanted to forget about the awful things people had said to me that day and the feeling of powerlessness and loneliness I experienced daily at my school, Parkville Middle. Listening to the solo lines support, console, converse with, fall away from, and come back to each other was like therapy for me because it gave me hope of finding friendship- friendship like the beautiful relationship Bach created between the solo instruments. I came to Maryland at the beginning of my 8th grade year, and I was teased and tormented almost relentlessly at my new school because of the way I dressed, my unkempt hair, and my shyness. Music was a refuge. I began to love practicing and listening to music, especially baroque, for reasons I've written about before. Those slow movements- I'd listen to them to help me fall asleep and when I came home from school. They provided hope and peace at such a turbulent time in my teenage years, and now, many years later and all that angst behind me, I'm still reminded very powerfully of the calm that washed over my heart every day when I play in the orchestra for these pieces.
Another emotion that creeps in is gratitude. Gratitude for the support I had then from my parents and wonderful viola teacher, gratitude for where I am today and for Who has orchestrated every detail of my life, gratitude to have found meaningful friendship with many wonderful people, and gratitude even for the troubled times in my past, because without those times, I wouldn't have fallen so deeply in love with music, with baroque music... with those slow movements.

(Photos from Mercury's Facebook page)


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

on the new year...

As 2014 comes to a close, I have enjoyed a bit of time to reflect on all that has happened in the past year (even longer since I posted last).
There were many wonderful things about 2014- new professional connections and precious friendships were formed, while existing friendships and connections were developed and made to thrive. There was spiritual, emotional, and musical growth, and many milestones were met this year. Every day I am thankful to pursue what I love to do as a career: playing the viola. I am forever grateful for my family and my friends who know my imperfect self and love me so much. This year, from your love, encouragement and allowing me to share in your experiences, I am aware of my strengths and values in an unprecedented, deeper way.
When reflecting on the end of another year, it's easy to try to block out the hard things and only focus on the fun things, the warm-and-fuzzy things, the things that make me feel great about myself and the people around me and this year. Truth is, 2014 held plenty of challenges, and there's no denying hard times. However, in almost every case, I can already see how I am growing because of a particular challenge.

In the holiday season, when the media tells us it's the best time of the year and when it seems like everyone expects us to be happy, I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on both joyful times and difficult challenges without feeling pressure from family and friends to stick to the happy side.  This year in particular I am realizing what amazing people God has placed in my life-people who stick by during rough and busy times, and people who share my joy.

In 2015, I want to take each day as it comes, being present in my thoughts, activities, and conversations. I want to continue to cultivate trust instead of thinking about what will happen next week, next month, next year. I want to continue to be there for friends and family while growing personally. While I don't know and can't control what events are in store for the year, I can control my attitude, and I can only do that by living in the present!

Wishing everyone a year full of meaningful relationships, personal growth, and taking each day as it comes!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving, Days 15-28: Two Weeks of Things

Day 15, Nov 15: The feeling of Fridays. Even though weekends are just as busy (if not busier) than weekdays at Shepherd, there is a feeling of freedom on Friday afternoons- an atmosphere I truly miss when I'm gone.

Day 16, Nov. 16: Stage managing. Ever since spring of my freshman year (2010), I've been sitting backstage at different recitals. Today was the Chamber Music Marathon, with concerts at 10 am, 12 pm, 2, 4, 6, and 8- and I stage managed the 4 and 6 pm concerts. One of the things I enjoy about stage managing is getting to be the "calm" one backstage.

Day 17, Nov 17: Mercury. I have had the privilege of playing with this wonderful orchestra for their recent Neighborhood Series- and today was the last concert of these. Over the past month, we've played at a modern art gallery, a children's concert at a Methodist church, an exhibit in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, a tobacco barn-turned-bar in the Woodlands, a Presbyterian Church- and today- a Buddhist temple. This is a pic from the Woodlands bar.

Day 18, Nov 18: A gym membership. I finally got to the gym today after 3 weeks of being "too busy". It felt AWESOME to go back- even if it was hard- and I am grateful that I invested in the membership at the beginning of the semester.

Day 19, Nov 19: Penny. Penny is a lady from church who has an amazingly huge heart- all because of Jesus. She is wonderful! After rep class today, I went over to her house, where she had surprised me by buying a red velvet cupcake. We drank tea and chatted with her daughter for a while- the perfect end to a busy day.

Day 20, Nov 20: This picture. The three year old actually makes a pretty good (loud) sound on his brother's trumpet...

Day 21, Nov 21: Mental health nights.
After yesterday, my friends Kelly and Amanda and I needed to have a mental health night. We had tea, hung out and chatted. I love Thursday nights because something like this always seems to happen. It's a great way to wind down after a long week.

Day 22, Nov 22: Settlers of Catan.
Even though we (half) joke that this game makes enemies, not friends- and it takes 2-3 hours minimum, it's a great game to play. I love the atmosphere around playing this game- the jokes, snide comments, insults- why? Because I know we don't really mean it :) There were six of us playing- one that had never played with us before- hopefully we didn't scare him off.

Day 23, Nov 23: Sleepovers. 
After Settlers, I slept at my friends' because they live closer to school- and I was recording someone early this morning. I'm always grateful for their hospitality and for a comfy couch to sleep on!

Day 24, Nov 24: Community.
After church today we had a baptism celebration with copious amounts of food afterwards. I'm so grateful to be a part of a church family that is so unconditionally loving and welcoming- one that constantly seeks to build each other up.

Day 25, Nov. 25: Surprises.
Today's surprise was seeing a friend give a master class (it was AWESOME!) at school. She was finishing her coursework when I was a freshman. A pic from that time...

Day 26, Nov 26: Food. 
Specifically the way food brings everyone together. A few of us got to play for someone's recital, and afterwards we sat eating our "thank-you chocolate" while waiting for our next class. Then after rep class, a few violists got together for some hot pot which was awesome!

Day 27, Nov 27: Friends.
One of the hardest things about writing about one thing I'm thankful for each day this month is knowing when to write about the givens- like friends and family. I am so grateful for all of my friends. Almost every day that I just wrote about- I could have easily written about friends because they've been such an integral part of my life here. These past two weeks (and three months) there's been lots of laughter, talking, joking, encouraging each other, and just spending time together. Truly, every good gift comes from above, and friends are no exception. 

Day 28, Nov 28: Family.
Today I'm thankful for family. I'm thankful for my parents who I am about to go see and eat with and I'm thankful for my extended family who I get to see in about a month! I'm so grateful to call all those wonderful people "family" and for their love and support! I would not be the person I am today without their guidance and discipline and encouragement. The words "thank you" are truly not enough to express how I feel about my family- and everything else I'm thankful for this month.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving, Days 13 and 14: Performing and fun performing outfits

Performing is the culmination of hours of rehearsing and practice- and years of dedication. This week I had the privilege of performing in a few chamber music recitals and a studio recital. It's always fun to figure out what to wear in recitals, and we get to come up with some pretty creative combinations. Here are a few pictures from the chamber music recitals (didn't take any at the studio recital).
Centerpiece at a cocktail table, Grant Park Music Festival
Chicago
Onyx String Trio, Impresario Society of Grant Park Music Festival, Chicago
We wore a cozy all-black, mostly because it was really cold onstage



Flarpola Trio after performing William Mathias' Zodiac Trio, Houston
We wore black/grey with pastel accents- Emily (harp) put roses in my hair!)


At the studio recital, I played one of my favorite pieces for viola and piano: Rebecca Clarke's Morpheus, named after the god of sleep and dreams. I think of many loved ones who are in their "eternal rest" when I hear this piece, and it was such a pleasure to play it in their memories. I feel so blessed to be able to express myself and my emotions in such an intimate, special way, and with such wonderful people!







Thursday, November 14, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving, Days 11 and 12: Snow and reunions

I was in Chicago over the weekend. I got to catch up with so many loved ones and play in a concert with the Onyx trio from my summer at Grant Park! It was such a fun time, and it made me thankful to be able to enjoy seeing people I haven't seen in months or years.

I stayed with my college roommate Amanda, and her fiance Scott, who are both now in med/grad school, and it was great to spend the evenings quietly working over a cup of tea/coffee. Made me think of our undergraduate days :)  Also, they were the best hosts ever, because after my audition on Saturday, they had warm brownies waiting!!

The Onyx trio was able to pick up right where we left off. We always have a blast together and were instantly laughing and chatting like we did all summer.



It was wonderful to have coffee with my mentor from the summer. Then I had deep dish pizza with Amy, my friend from Banff.


The next day I met Amy again closer to her place and also got to catch up with Liz, my friend from Madeline Island, summer 2010. We hadn't seen each other since then! Unfortunately I have no picture to document this, but I found a picture of us from then:


Also, here's a picture of Amy and I with our friend Katie from the summer (we're on the outside):


And during this reunion... it snowed!! For a girl who's lived in Houston for a while, snow is always a welcome sight... especially when I don't have to drive in it. Amy's also from Houston too, so we were taking pictures... I'm sure the native Chicagoans probably thought we were nuts!


Though it was great to see and experience snow, I was also thankful for a warm apartment to go back to and hot tea waiting!







Sunday, November 10, 2013

30 Days of Thanksgiving, Day 10: Motivation

Today I had a paper due. And I had to get it done today, since my professor had kindly extended my deadline for a week. So today when I woke up I gave myself a deadline. I had to get a rough draft done before I left for a coffee get-together. And the deadline worked! It's hard to even give myself a deadline at home because I can always find time to cram working on a paper. However, since there was a fast approaching deadline, finishing was easier than it usually is.

Also, working when it's cold outside and you have some black tea to wake you up is extremely motivating too. And yes, for me, a little bit of black tea does the trick. I have very low tolerance for caffeine!