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It's here! The Máiréad Nesbitt line of violins!
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Author Topic: Nicola Benedetti Pittsburgh May 2013  (Read 1185 times)
cash
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« on: May 16, 2013, 12:20:32 PM »

Nicola Benedetti with the Pittsburgh Symphony 5/10 and 5/12 2013

   This talented young violinist came to Pittsburgh and performed Tchaikovsky with our Symphony. I originally bought a ticket long ago via my Symphony subscription, for Friday night’s show. Before the show, I looked for photos to print out to take just in case she did an autograph signing, which is known to happen a lot when guest musicians visit and perform with the Symphony. It’s a rainy sloppy Friday night so I grabbed my umbrella and headed on out.
   First I stopped by a local hospital to visit my neighbor that just had a knee replacement. As I walked into her room, I could see it was a guy in her bed! UH-OH! I said “You’re NOT Gloria!” which got a laugh, and the young lady visiting him said “NOPE! But we will take the food you brought for her!” I just laughed and didn’t try to explain that it’s just a photo of a violinist in my bag, not exactly edible, but then again, considering some hospital food, maybe more edible than what the patient had been getting! As I left the hospital, a family was going in carrying a BIG pizza box. Looks like others there also preferred non-hospital food. But all this food talk gave me the idea to eat. Plus I had time to kill since the time I factored in for a hospital visit was now free. After an Arby’s meal it’s a short bus ride to Heinz Hall.
   I went to the merchandise table and bought one of Benedetti’s CDs. They had 3 in stock, and the one I purchased also happened to be the exact piece that she performed that night. Its rare that happens. I headed for the obligatory pre-concert trip to the restroom and as usual the theatre had an attendant in there, and people were tipping him. I didn’t I never have tipped a bathroom attendant. And that brings me to my first question for discussion …..

Do you ever tip bathroom attendants? Am I being out of line, like as if one doesn’t tip a waitress?

   So I head up to my seat, but first I contact the FAA and air traffic control, since I have to get a flight plan to travel up that high. I bought the cheap seat, the $20 type, and its WAY up and back, only like 6 rows from the very back wall. I have the aisle seat, which is good because I can stretch my legs out a bit during the show. That’s important because theres almost no leg room in the cheap seats. I don’t know how really tall people can stand sitting there. But its bad when everyone wants to walk by to get to their seats in your row. I had to stand up a number of times, and of course there were several totally empty rows nearby. I thought about moving, but then figured someone would just come along and want to go there anyway.
   The show started as the guest conductor came out. This guy wasn’t as animated as some, you know, like they drank WAY too much coffee before the show. He did do the usual walk off stage, then on, then off, to get applause. Then had the orchestra stand for applause, etc. Theres always a bit too much of that at the start of the show, in my view. The music played was sort of sedate. It did have some more energetic parts, yet overall more a sleeper kind of piece. I recognized some parts. I am not sure, but I think our one local commercial here uses some of that music. The slow music seemed to drag on a bit, then its intermission.
   Ms. Benedetti came out with the conductor and started the second half. She seemed to do very well, though to be honest I don’t know much about Tchaikovsky and his music isn’t my thing. The crowd did go nuts though at the end. Lots of standing applause for her. The classical music and Tchaikovsky fans in the know regarding the music really LOVED it. There were a lot of people in attendance too. Not a sell out, but I bet 90% of the seats were sold. I have seen some crowds there almost defiantly refuse to stand and clap, but the musician tonight should be very happy with the response that she got, and she seemed to be.
   So the show ends and I head to the autograph line. Its LONG! Seemed Benedetti made a very good impression on many. The line also moved very SLOW! She was chatting and also posing for pics with people. She was very accommodating and friendly. I have never seen that many people allowed to pose for pics with anyone there. Its mostly just a signing. I didn’t have a camera so I was a bit bummed. Lost opportunity there. Something popped into my mind watching the photos. Some people stood beside her, some in back of her, as she sat. Standing in back of her seemed to be a good idea. Those people could crop the photo in a good way to display the pic. At least that’s what I am thinking. Then I thought - What if CW would use the same type of concept? Instead of standing, the performers could sit and do autographs AND photos. Seems like it could be done in an efficient way. 
   As I had my turn, I noticed something different, but it didn’t get through my thick caveman skull at first., After I walked away and into the lobby area, I heard 2 others who just went through the line discussing her, and one said “Hey did you notice that she was left handed?” That’s it! She signed with her left hand. The one guy said “You know many violinists are left handed”. They do use their left hand for the fingering. So here is question 2.…

What do you know about left handed violinists? Is it true many violinists are leftys?

   I headed home but I was also a bit impressed by her so I decided to spend time on Saturday watching her Youtube stuff and reading about her. She is an interesting and impressive young lady. She is only 25 but has something like 6 CDs  already and has also accumulated many awards and accolades. Her Dad is Italian, though her Mom is Scottish. Since she was born in Scotland, she is Celtic, right? While watching the Youtube video of her performance of Schindler’s List at the 2012 Classic Brit Awards, I spotted Hayley in the crowd. She has some very interesting videos. More like music videos than just actual stage performances. So that all got me thinking.
   It would be nice to see her again. This time I know more about her, so I would have some stuff to ask her at the signing. Maybe I could get a photo with her. Plus I had a ticket to a show that I really didn’t want to attend. I had bought a subscription package and that’s a show that I didn’t really want to see, but its part of the deal. So I exchanged it for a second show with Benedetti on Sunday. The fee was only $3 so it didn’t cost a lot extra, but I would again be in orbit. I thought about buying a better seat, but opted for the cheap way out this time. I need to do some concert budgeting to save money for concerts late in the year, like, around Christmas!
   Sunday was a nice sunny day, though a bit chilly. I arrived and went back to the merchandise table, thinking about buying another CD. I looked on Amazon and it looked like her CDs were expensive, but selling for only $20 at the table. The staff person working there told me NO signing today! What a bummer. Oh well. But I guess it made sense. I bet she headed to the airport right after the show to travel to her next performance or simply home.
   Things got a bit interesting as I sat in the lower lobby before heading up to orbit to my seat. I spotted the guy that wears a dress and carries a purse head into the men’s room. I had seen him before, and it seems most people just ignore him. But it can be a bit of a shock for some people to see that. He really isn’t trying to be a woman, as he has a thinning hair line and a beard. Not like he wears a wig. He is clearly a guy.  When I did get up to my seat, he was sitting across the aisle from me. The guy sitting next to him seemed uncomfortable and didn’t return the second half. I think he found an empty seat elsewhere. Like Friday night, the crowd was a fairly good crowd, but its not sold out and empty seats were easy enough to spot. Also, I am far from an expert on fashion, but I don’t think the guy’s brown handbag was the appropriate accessory to his black evening gown!
   Benedrtti again got a very nice standing O at the end. She thanked the crowd for having her and said a few other things, but I couldn’t hear her. That’s the problem with buying cheap seats Too far away. And that leads to another question for you …..

Can a violinist use the violin mic to talk in? Does Mairead have a different mic to talk into?

That’s something I should know, but now that I think of it, I never really looked on Mairead for the mic on the side of her face.
   If you don’t know about this young lady, it would be worth a look on Youtube. And she is worth seeing if she comes to your town. Be on the lookout for signings. She seems very friendly about those.
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Ron
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2013, 01:46:09 PM »

Nice review, Cash.

I'll answer the mic question first since I got the answer directly from Mairead herself. She uses a Sennheiser instrument mic specifically designed for orchestral string instruments. The interesting thing is, these mics are typically mounted over the bridge, but she had hers mounted underneath the bridge so as to better capture the resonance of "Matthias'" aged wood. All I asked her was what model microphone she uses (there are several) as my students often ask that question when I use CW as an example when discussing live production techniques. Rather than just naming the mic, she took the extra time at the Orlando M&G to describe how it's mounted and why. And yes, she can speak through it. In fact, as it's an instrument mic as opposed to a vocal mic, it would actually have a wider frequency response than the other girls' headset mics. Now, as to why you couldn't hear Nicola speak could have been either they brought that mic down at the console when she was done playing and didn't get it back up in time, or she uses a bridge mounted transducer that captures the vibrations directly from the violin as opposed to using a mic. These transducers are popular on modern instruments as they eliminate the possibility of feedback, but they do require permanent modification to the instrument. That's something that obviously wouldn't be done to a vintage Stradivarius or Matthias Alban.

 As far as the lefty question, again, I'm not a violinist, but I'll give you a guitarist's perspective. I've never seen a "left hand" violin that's strung the other way as they have "left hand" guitars. Maybe a violinist on here has. But I am a lefty, yet play a standard right handed guitar. It's just the way I learned. Plus, I think it gave me somewhat of an advantage when learning because my dominant hand is on the fretboard. So I would say not only are there lefty violinists, but I would dare say they also have an advantage over their right handed counter parts. You know, I never noticed if Mairead is a lefty or not.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 02:59:46 PM by Ron » Logged

We sing before we learn to talk. We dance before we learn to walk. Music is ingrained into our very souls from birth.
cash
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2013, 11:11:07 PM »

Thanks Ron.

I am fairly certain that Mairead writes with her right hand, and Lil' Lambe is the only lefty. But I bet all violin players are fairly well coordinated with both hands. Would have to be. But yes a lefty might have an advantage since the fingers on the left hand do all the fingerwork on the strings.

Piano players are fairly good with both hands as well. Then again, I guess many instruments require some good coordination with both hands.
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Moscapoet
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2013, 11:34:41 AM »

Thanks for another entertaining and informative review, Cash. Sounds like a lovely event, and in cases like this the visuals mean very little and it is all about the sound. I've heard this artist before and she is very good. 
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