Friday, October 31, 2014

Heart-flutterings on Halloween

Happy Halloween from Urumqi! While we won't be getting trick-or-treaters, we have put up some decorations left by the last occupant of this apartment, who apparently had a penchant for theme parties and acquired a nice collection of masks and color-changing LED pumpkins. I accessorized one of the masks with a dopa, a traditional Uyghur hat, and made a DIY tampon ghost, so the place is officially tricked-out.

A photo posted by Audrey Woz (@audreywoz) on

A photo posted by Audrey Woz (@audreywoz) on

I've also been getting in the spirit by practicing Eugène Ysaÿe's "Obsession," the first movement of his second sonata for solo violin. Ysaÿe's series of solo violin sonatas was the Belgian violinist's response to the solo violin sonatas of J.S. Bach. This one in particular starts by quoting the light and joyful opening of Bach's E Major Sonata, and then quickly takes a dark turn, evolving into an exploration of the "Dies Irae" chant for the dead. I have a practice room on the Uyghur music floor of the Arts Institute, and so when I practice violin there the music coming out of my room stands in stark contrast to the Uyghur muqam coming out of the other practice rooms. Bach, and of course Ysaÿe, are unfamiliar sounds around here, and I have been struck by how excited people are to hear solo Bach--certainly more enthusiasm for Bach than I've ever encountered in the States! Whenever I practice Ysaÿe in the Arts Institute my ghijak teacher comes out of his office to listen; he told my housemate to tell me, "I love hearing Audrey play violin--when I hear her play violin my heart flutters!" (He made very sure she understood that it was my violin-playing he was in love with, not me.)

And if that didn't put you in the mood, here's Franz Liszt's even more blatant take on the "Dies Irae" tune: