Gwendolyn Toth

Gwendolyn Toth is the director of the New York City-based early music ensemble, ARTEK, and a soloist on early keyboards (organ, harpsichord, fortepiano). She is married to harpsichordist Dongsok Shin, and they have three children.

Friday, October 29, 2010

ARTEK: Just girls this time

Last week we had a great time preparing a concert for Drew University. In order to fit rehearsals into everyone's schedules, we ended up rehearsing in Princeton, staying overnight there, and then traveling to Madison for the concert. (The ARTEK New Jersey tour...)

There were five of us - all girls. Maybe a first for ARTEK! Laurie Heimes & Barbara Hollinshead singing, Christa Patton on harp, guest Agnes Kallay on cello, and myself. Agnes told us that she'd been playing early music on cello since she was six with her father's ensemble in Hungary. (Maybe she should talk to my daughters. Six!!! And they complain. I didn't bug them to play until they were, oh, at least TEN. I think.)

We had the most wonderful rehearsals in Marvin Preston's beautiful modern home...Japanese inspired contemporary architecture, with a soothing indoor/outdoor atrium. Alan Goodheart (our board member from Princeton) and Marvin rehearsed the part of the audience while we played. Definitely a different dynamic to rehearsing with all girls. We talk, we work, we laugh, we get on with it.

The next day we performed at Drew. Truly a wonderful concert hall. Please, someone, build us one JUST LIKE THAT in New York City! I am impressed because the entire Drew music faculty has shown up for the performance. This is not a usual thing. And, a nice size audience as well, who loved our program. (Well, what's not to love? we sounded great. If I may say so myself.) Oh yes, and several of us have lovely new concert gowns...check them out at our next performance!

Back home late, after dropping off Agnes in Montclair. Too wired to fall asleep right away, so Dongsok & I skip through Dancing With the Stars before crashing. I'm up at 4:45 am to go skate with my synchro ice team...more great women friends. I'm really pleased when I manage not to fall and break anything trying to skate on 3 hours sleep! Later, I'm reading a student-written story about the concert in the Drew paper. Although we got a sensational review, the student must have been snoozing at the pre-concert lecture: nearly everything she quotes about baroque music is 100% backwards from what we said! For example:
Barbara: "We don't strip the vibrato from our voices. Instead we occasionally use non-vibrato as a special effect, more often in the music from the early baroque."
Student: "They strip the vibrato from their voices".

I'm really looking forward to our Baci Soavi concert in 2 weeks. More great music with my wonderful colleagues.

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