This Weeks Piece: Regrets And Resolutions by Gary Schocker
Gary Schocker American flute player is also a pianist, harpist, prolific composer and a talented teacher.
Born into a musical family in Easton, Pennsylvania, Schocker began his musical career on piano, making his recital debut at the age of three. By the time he was ten, he had added flute to his musical studies. Schocker made his professional debut as a flutist at the age of 15, appearing as soloist with both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, thus establishing a name for himself even before attending The Juilliard School and winning numerous prestigious competitions, including the National Flute Association’s Young Artist Competition, the New York Flute Club’s Young Artist Competition, the East and West International Concert Artists Competition, and Young Concert Artists Competition. In 1988, he cemented his reputation as a versatile performer by filling in, with only a few hours’ notice, for an ailing Jean-Pierre Rampal in a performance of the Mozart D Major Concerto with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, composing new cadenzas in his head on the way to the concert hall.
Known for his beautiful sound and effortless technique, Schocker’s performing engagements frequently take him to locations across the country and around the world. He has performed with orchestras and in concert halls on five continents. Frequent collaborators include Fumi Kuwajima (piano), Emily Mitchell (harp), and Jason Vieaux (guitar).
A gifted composer, Schocker has written music for almost every orchestral instrument, and his work has received multiple recognitions from the International Clarinet Association and the National Flute Association. He has received commissions to write music for competitions, including for the NFA’s High School Soloist Competition and the International Flute Competition in Biwako, Japan. Many of his compositions have become part of the standard repertoire for the flute, earning their place on required repertoire lists for competitions and courses of study. He currently has almost 300 works in print, with more than half of them including the flute as a solo instrument or as part of an ensemble. Schocker has also composed many works for harp and piano, as well as for solo voice and chorus, and has written several musicals, including Far From the Madding Crowd and The Awakening, both of which can be heard on Original Cast Recordings. Both shows were winners of the Global Search for New Musicals in the UK and were performed in Cardiff and at the Edinburgh Festival, as well as in New Zealand. In New York, the Awakening was winner of the ASCAP music theatre awards.
Mr. Schocker is also an exceptional teacher who is able to transform the playing of those who study with him. Through his own study of the Alexander Technique, the Feldenkrais Method, and other body awareness disciplines, he has learned how to help students free their bodies in ways that enhance, rather than hinder, their playing. Schocker frequently travels to colleges and universities, music schools, festivals, and flute fairs, both in the U.S. and abroad, to teach masterclasses. Since 2003, he has taught several times a year at weekend and weeklong flute retreats/masterclasses at Holy Cross Monastery near Poughkeepsie, New York.
Schocker has recorded eight CDs as a soloist, including Regrets and Resolutions, Airborne, Flute Forest, Mozart Flute Quartets, Bach Handel Telemann, Healing Music, For Dad, and Inside Out; several CDs in collaboration with harpist Emily Mitchell and guitarist Jason Vieaux; and several more as a member of chamber ensembles and orchestras. Additionally, his compositions have been recorded by many artists around the world.
Schocker teaches at New York University and in his private studios in his homes in New York City and in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Regrets and Resolutions has been used in The Flautist series to ask the question ,can we use more repertoire like this to teach techniques and less of the repetitive sequential robot style studies.?
The list of techniques this looks at is:
- Somewhere over the rainbow openness and tone quality on all the C entries in the Regrets, it’s the “where”.
- The usual holding a melodic line without changing colour unless the player musically chooses to do so for a good reason.
- The central tonal syncopated A pattern in Resolutions is a look at melodious study no22. This study demands complete control of the air stream on every note. You need to know where your air is going and be able to flick it around. It’s a tricky little study. Resolutions gives it a great work out and I do musically try to accentuate the repetitive syncopated pattern because I think it holds the movement together and gives it drive and oomph and it is marked Forte. Again, this is a conscious personal musical choice of mine. I always take great notice of the score and the entries are Forte ,no staccatos marked in the majority of the Resolutions. Some passages have them and that is when I change colour and dynamics and style with the markings. I am a stickler for what the composer wrote, so I feel he wanted a full approach to the Resolutions.
- Resolutions gives the double tonguing a good going over and I deliberately use a legato De Ge as I personally am not a fan of the percussive Te Ke style. Melodious Study No18 is great for this as it does single , double and triple tonging and they are all Da, De Ge and degede. Tone quality is the big thing to note here and it is what I live by. Guide is in the member’s section .
- Bit of a tricky high C triplet technique which is good to master.
- The slow section reflecting Regrets in Resolutions is demanding not as easy as it looks to pull off , Its quite hard to launch into that soulful C and hold the haunting colour and mood in this section after such a strong forward-looking theme.
- In Regrets the piano part is like time and life ticking away whilst the flute part is full of what could have been’s , beautiful memories and regrets. It’s so beautiful to play. I deliberately play without vibrato and only outer harmonics in the p soft low F notes, it’s a personal musical choice. I am going to talk about vibrato later with En Bateau where it needs to shimmer like sun on the water.
I find it hard to imagine anyone playing this like a robot. Apart from loving this as a piece it was the main reason why I picked this for The Flautist.