I’ve not been blogging much, as I know the few who read this have noticed. I’m going to have to see if I can be a bit more diligent. If not, perhaps the site needs to be retired. Still, I think I have more I could write about if I just set my mind to it.

I’d love to hear from anyone who might want to ask me a question about the music life and a career that began so very long ago. After all, I joined the Musicians’ Union (local 153 back then) on May 14, 1974 and landed my job with the San Jose Symphony in the summer of 1975, so I have had a few years (hah!) of experience doing what I do.

Peteris Vasks: The Fruit of Silence
Latvian Radio Choir; Vestard Shimkus, Piano; Sigvards Kjava, Conductor

The fruit of silence is prayer
the fruit of prayer is faith
the fruit of faith is love
the fruit of love is service
the fruit of service is love

Text by Mother Teresa

Yesterday’s job brought me a bit of agony. We were doing an outdoor concert and I was playing a wee bit of oboe and a lot of English horn. I had no issues the night before, so didn’t think to bring my W.R.I.S.T accessory.

My right thumb decided it no longer would like to hold the English horn. It simply couldn’t. At. All.

I don’t know if I tweaked it, or if the previous night’s rehearsal did the thumb in (we were playing Ride of the Valkyries which does require holding the instrument for quite some time). Or maybe it’s just age. But no matter the cause, I was concerned. For most of the first part of the concert (three Gershwin works) I could “cheat” and hold the bell between my crossed ankles. For solos, though, I don’t like to do that: I think it dampens the sound a bit too much, and it just feels so darn confining. Fortunately I made it through those three works, and the solos were okay.

Then I had an hour to wait until we went back to the stage to do the “Symphony Spooktacular” bit. For that I had less to play, so I wasn’t terrifically concerned. Just annoyed that my thumb decided to rebel. Funny though: by the time we began again my thumb was just fine!

The issue, though, was a good reminder: I MUST carry the W.R.I.S.T. accessory with me at all times. Period.

Today I ordered a microphone stand that will allow me to to have the accessory a bit closer to me: connecting it to the music stand sometimes works, but because of how we are set up, and because sometimes we use different stands that don’t even allow for attaching the device, I have decided to be better prepared. Had my thumb continued to rebel I’d have been in tears by the end, I think.

I can highly recommend the W.R.I.S.T. and I can also tell you you’d be paying much less than I did. As the inventor Robert Morgan writes: “Please note: The price of the WRIST has gone down considerably as we launch a new manufacturer relationship.” Nice!

This coming week I have some important bits on our Symphony Silicon Valley concert. If my thumb is disobedient I will simply ignore the darn thing!

With many thanks to Bret Pimentel:

I have lots on things on my list for you today: we should double-check your rhythms on that etude, review those melodic minor scales that were giving you trouble last week, and discuss some finer points of vibrato.

But something about your sunken eyes when I met you at the door, the way you slouched into the room, the slept-in fashion statement, says that today you are Struggling. Not because you are lazy or undedicated. But because college life is fraught with deadlines for research papers and rent payments, and scheduled to the brim with marching band rehearsals and late shifts waiting tables, and fueled by store-brand Pop Tarts and never enough sleep.

Do read the whole thing (link above). This applies not only to Bret’s college students, but to all of our students. I have middle school students who are overly stressed. I have high school students who are so on edge it hurts my heart. All are more important than their oboes!

Arvo Pärt: Alleluia Tropus
Vox Clamantis

As some know, I posted a video of Alex Klein in January.

I’m pleased to report that he announced on Facebook that he has accepted a position in Canada!

Congratulations, Mr. Klein!

Connor Koppin: Jesu Dulcis Memoria
Luther College Norsemen; Mark Potvin, Director

Update Since I posted this it has been removed from YouTube. So sorry! I’m not sure why they removed it, but so it goes. Here is another version:

The Singing Statesmen
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

This is just too funny (and hat tip to Lynn Moquette for sending it my way):

A 911 caller told police a man was sitting on his car with a weapon, but he was just playing the bassoon.

This summer, bassoonist Eric Barga drove to Covenant Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Ohio, after a day of teaching at his old school, Kenton Ride High School.

Eric was half an hour early for bell choir practice. To pass the time, he pulled out his custom-made Fox 610 red maple bassoon, sat down on the boot of his car and started playing some scales.

RTWT

Most importantly, though: the police need music lessons so they can tell the difference between the oboe and bassoon!

Arvo Pärt: The Deer’s Cry
The Erebus Ensemble; Tom Williams, Director

Yep … we (Symphony Silicon Valley) are doing the next movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, soon. If you don’t have tickets, why not?