Art form: Music – Violin
Title: Carmen Fantasie by Franz Waxman
Why did you choose this piece as part of your WACE repertoire?
It was on my school’s European Music Tour where I lead the Symphony Orchestra at Teatro di Verdi in Florence to accompany two brilliant opera singers; one of which was singing the ‘Habanera’ from Carmen. Her performance was magical, and it was at that moment where I decided that this was a piece I desired to perform. I selected Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy as it encapsulates the most well-known melodies of Carmen, connected through various ornamented cadenzas. It’s particularly special to me because Maxim Vengerov: my favourite violinist, is well known for his rendition of this work, which encouraged me to select Waxman’s arrangement over the others. It was certainly a challenging piece to master, however it is also one of the most rewarding to perform.
Who are your favourite composers and do you have a favourite composer to perform?
I have many favourite composers as they fluctuate from time to time, but Tchaikovsky is definitely an all-time favourite. His melodies are enchanting, and I would have loved to play his violin concerto for my WACE practical but unfortunately it didn’t conform to the time limits. In terms of performance, I personally cannot label one composer as my “favourite” because I enjoy playing many pieces, regardless of their composer. Some of my favourite pieces include Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy of course, Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen as well as Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. I also enjoy performing many of Mozart’s works in string ensembles or chamber orchestras.
What were the main challenges you faced in practicing this piece and how did you go about overcoming these?
Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy was definitely one of the most challenging pieces I have learnt, due to the combination of virtuosic runs, double-stop scales and harmonic passages amongst various emotive melodies. It was difficult to set aside time to practice this piece while juggling my other ATAR courses and the rest of my WACE repertoire as it required more time to master the notes, and time to broaden my tone and approach it musically. I overcame these difficulties by slow practice, and strategically planning my practice time to heavily favour this work. In terms of musicality, the recent WA Opera’s performance of Carmen helped me to better understand the context of the piece, and to embed relevant emotions into the various melodies. Although it required much persistence to learn and perfect, it is one of the most rewarding pieces to perform, and I am so glad that this was one of the pieces I chose for my practical.