I got to the theatre on the early side, thinking I’d warm up. Now when I write warm up I don’t mean warming up my body, as I’m sure you know. But getting into the pit I checked my handy dandy thermometer.

It was 63 degrees. Yikes!

I won’t even get my oboe out of its case when it’s that cold.

I turned on the space heaters the opera company has provided for us (they are somewhat of a joke, but I guess they are better than nothing), and sat. And sat. FInally we reached 65, so I pulled out the oboe and warmed up a bit. The temperature managed to get to 69 when we were tuning.

The overture was wonderful! The tempi were fabulous, and I have to say it was the best I think we’ve played it.

Then the curtain came up.

(Insert all sorts of screaming here if you’d like.)

The temperature immediately started to drop. It finally landed at 66.4. Warm enough that we’ll still play, but cold enough that we were pretty darn cold. It went back and forth between that and 66.9 … big diff, you know? … and I was pretty darn ticked.

Still, the first half flew by due to some quicker, wonderful lively tempi.

Second act? COLD COLD COLD. I wore my fleece jacket, turning the collar inward so it looked as if I was completely in black. If this temperature thing continues to be a problem I’m really tempted to suggest that the opera provide a plastic oboe for me. I really don’t want to deal with cracking oboe issues.

The best part of tonight was getting into my car and blasting the heat. The second best thing? Great tempi! That can really change the way things feel. And the cast did some rather fun things too … making us pit folk laugh out loud. That was fun. Even while we were frozen in the pit.

30. November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

Does anyone remember the time when you would sit at home with your sound system, put on a recording and just listen? Listen, as if there were something deep or important buried in the music?

I read this over at Campell Vertesi’s blog right here.

I’m not opposed to the iPod, and I don’t believe that everyone who uses the iPod doesn’t really listen, but I understand what Mr. Vertesi is saying.

I don’t think that this whole thing applies to just listening, though. I think folks read in a similar manner much of the time now. And watching? I think films get that same not-quite-working-at-it treatment. So I think it has to do with our culture in general, rather than just music. We want things quick. We want things easy. We want things understandable without a whole heck of a lot of pondering much of the time.

Or at least it feels that way sometimes.

If a piece of music—be it “classical” or anything else—takes time to process, takes perhaps more than one listen to understand, I think that work often gets put aside. Too much work, thank you very much. If a film isn’t easy to comprehend, well, maybe it’s just not worth it to some folks.

Or at least that’s the way it seems sometimes.

But maybe things aren’t as they seem. Maybe I’m just being silly and goofy.

Often that seems to be the case.

By the way, I still listen to music—both pop and classical—in my car. It’s different than “listening hard”, but I do it.
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30. November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

There’s another Sondheim musical where the actors/singers are also instrumentalists. This time someone even plays the oboe.

Hmm.

We all know you shouldn’t have lipstick on to play oboe. So gee … I wonder … is she going without? I kinda doubt it.

This is funny: the blurb says: “Elizabeth Stanley plays April, Oboe, Tuba and Alto Sax.”

Now of course someone once sang about a gimmick. And the director has certainly found one. Maybe it even works. I won’t be getting to NYC any time soon to hear and see the show, so I’ll leave it up to the Mighty Reviewers. But then they liked Sweeney Todd, and I was pretty unimpressed with some of the playing. So maybe I’m just a picky old snob.

Ya think?

Update
My son sort of implied I’m being harsh.

How can that be? Moi? A gentle oboe player? An emotional English hornist?

A knife-wielding maniac.

Oh … yeah … there’s that, too.
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30. November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

There’s something I really enjoy about my drive over the hill to UCSC. As long as the traffic isn’t bad (and it rarely is, since I’m driving counter-commute) I appreciate the scenic drive, my private time, and some music I might not necessarily listen to if I stayed at home.

Today I began with Leonard Cohen. I’m not all that familiar with him, but knew his song Hallelujah. (I bought the CD I listened to today, in fact, because my sister mentioned that song last week, wondering who wrote it; I knew the writer, I just didn’t know his version of the song.) I certainly liked what I heard today. I could swear I purchased something of his years ago and didn’t get it. Maybe it’s an age thing. Or maybe I’m just more open to things now.

Then it was some more Quartetto Gelato. Lovely. Fun. Moving. Very moving on some tracks. And the singer—a lovely tenor voice there!—really got to me.

So I’m now in a “mood” … sort of one of those squishy, weepy kinds of moods.

I have to quickly switch gears and get ready to teach!
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The Movie. This is funny.

Finally To Tower

Too bad I didn’t see the movie at Tower Records today. But then I didn’t see much of anything there! I did pick up two Quartetto Gelato CDs … oboe, violin, cello and … drum roll accordian! Fun listening, and there’s some mighty fine oboe playing goin’ on, too. (There’s more to them than “just” the named instruments here, too: you can add in a tenor (the violinist sings), English horn, mandolin, piano.)

Add to that the fact that the oboist is drop-dead gorgeous and you’ve got … well … you’ve got me seething. I mean, what is with all these good looking oboists these days? Don’t they know they aren’t supposed to care about looks? They are supposed to be pale, sad and tired looking, due to all the hours spent in a room, all alone, working on oboe reeds. C’mon folks! ;-)

Or maybe I’m the only one who looks that way. And I don’t even spend enough time working on reeds.

Hmmm. Maybe I’ve got it backwards? Maybe working on reeds would make me look … I dunno … more appealing?

Naw. That’s not the ticket. I’m sure of it.

Anyway … ramble, ramble … I was hoping to find some opera DVDs at Tower, but I saw only one, and it would duplicate what we already have. Oh well. Better to not spend more money anyway.

I’ve written before about not knowing when it would be okay to correct a reviewer’s mistake(s). I’ve still not come to any conclusion. Part of me did want to ask the reviewer I linked to the other day, who enjoyed Sunday’s opera peformance, if he’d heard the rather major blunder, but I’ve decided I don’t even want to go there. Just not cool—it might sound like I’m attempting to correct the writer, even though I really am just curious.

But now there’s “Do I bother to correct a blogger?”

My first response is “Absolutely not!”

A blog is a blog is a blog; it’s not fact. It’s one person’s take on things.

But I have to admit I was confused when reading about a blogger’s concert-going experience. He/She heard the Imani Woodwind Quintet. For any of you not in the know, a Woodwind Quintet uses these instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon. But the blogger said that the instruments played were clarinet, obeo, trumpet, flute and horn. Aside from the very-easy-to-do typo on the word oboe (I’ve done that myself!), I’m confused about the trumpet’s inclusion and the missing bassoon. Is this a mistake, or did the quintet deviate from the norm and do a switcheroo on the audience? How can this be? Hmmm.

The Imani Winds is a really fun group … I have several of their CDs, and I’m very impressed. Someday I’ll hear them live, I hope.

Needless to say, I won’t link to the blogger’s site; I don’t want to embarrass anyone or make the blogger think I’m putting him/her down. Again, not cool!

I am curious if any of you would feel like you need to correct the blogger, though. (I’m guessing someone in the Imani Winds would … IF it’s really a mistake.)

There’s an article about being an arts sort of person and having a family. Which makes me think …

Now of course I’m no famous musician. Heck, I’m not even half-famous (whatever that is; I just wanted to type “half-famous”). I’m just a part-time musician who manages to perform a fairly good amount.

I also teach, but I didn’t do that when the kids were younger. I just couldn’t handle the distraction of children and didn’t want to have to shush them all the time. So I took up teaching again when they were … hmm … I’m guessing the older two were middle or high school age. (Kids? Do you remember?) I did TRY to teach when Brandon was a little one, but realized early on that it wasn’t a great idea for me. (Some of my friends have no problem with it, but I sure did.)

I also realized, when the chidlren were younger, that I wouldn’t be practicing as much as I had before. Fortunately I had a lot of music learned already, and I managed to get practice time in at rehearsals … sad, I know … maybe even appalling! … but true.

And I was tired. Ever so tired. Almost all the time I was a bit of a walking zombie, to be honest.

When I was pregnant with our first I played up until my due date. Brandon (1982) was two weeks late. I then went back to work about two weeks after he was born. We didn’t have any choice; Midsummer Mozart was beginning then and I either went back to work or we were income-less. We survived. That was definitely the start of my zombie period, though.

With Kelsey (’85) I took a bit more time off. With Jameson (’89) even more. I suppose I was well aware, by that time, that the kids grew quickly. I wanted to enjoy them a bit more. And I wasn’t so uptight about missing work either.

Now part of the reason I managed to work and parent was due do Dan’s schedule. We did have to hire sitters frequently for the evening; Dan was stage manager of San Jose Symphony (RIP) for a while. But during the day I was, for the most part, home. So, according to Kelsey anyway, I appeared to be a stay-at-home-mom much of the time. I was able to pick them up from school most of the time. (Thankfully we had two grandmothers here who would pick up the slack for us, too. Thanks, you two!)

But my kids did seem to enjoy my working. Shoot, when I quit being music librarian of the symphony one of them even cried (I won’t say who!). The poor kiddo thought something fun was being taken away. Go figure. I had to reassure that child that yes, we’d still be going to symphony, and yes, they could still visit the stage and all.

Do I have regrets? A few. I definitely wish I had skipped a year of Midsummer Mozart. I wish I’d been home more often to tuck the kids in bed. I wish I hadn’t had to miss some of their performances. (I still kick myself about missing Brandon’s Mock Trial events.) I wish I had been more available. But hindsight ….

But at the same time, I think they kids have had a rather fun time being the children of musicians. (Dan used to play in symphony sometimes, and was certainly there a lot due to his stage managing job. Now he teaches music.) And all three appreciate music.

One thing I didn’t do (and wonder if this was a mistake): I never pushed music lessons on the kids. Most of my music pals with kids have had their children take lessons from quite early on. I just didn’t want to. I think part of it was selfish; I didn’t want to have to hound them to practice! Is that nuts? Brandon did play piano for a very brief time, and then took trumpet lessons as well. He didn’t keep up with either, though. (But now, you can see and hear what he does at his sites.) Kelsey sang in The Magic Flute when in middle school, and kept singing through high school. She’s still a music listener (but opera? Do you still listen, Kelsey?) and can do a pretty amazing job whistling (really!). Jameson sings. He sings very well. And he’s taken lessons on and off. (Schedules don’t allow for consistent lessons … that’s show biz, folks!) So all are certainly into music.

Did having children enrich my music making? I honestly don’t know! I do know it put things into perspective for someone who was so pronse to freak out over reeds and bad performances. I didn’t shed nearly as many tears regarding reeds and stupid music mistakes once they were born. Suddenly things like that weren’t so worth shooting myself over. Having children definitely made me a better teacher; I understand kids a bit more, and I think I know, for the most part, when to push and when to back off. Prior to having children I was much harsher. (Any students out there reading this? Can you imagine me being harsher? Am I too harsh now? I wonder.) And the kids certainly enriched my life. More than I can ever say. I can’t imagine a life without them. Not at all.

Just another disjointed ramble from yours truly … thinking about the past, and wondering what the kids will say to me twenty years from now.

Only time will tell.

I just ran across a facebook site that made me laugh. Really. You can only see the page if you belong to facebook, but I’ll share the front page blurb with you:

Name: Musicians against oboists who talk about reeds all the time!
Description: Do you ever try to have a nice conversation with an oboist and they redirect the subject to reeds. If you just don’t care about making american-style, long-scraped oboe reeds, or crap about cane selection, then join the club…

Hah! Very funny.

The site itself has nothing to offer. But that blurb was worth the read. (Not reed.) At least for me.

On A More Serious Note:
Is there really NO ONE OUT THERE who wants to make emusic.com suggestions for me? Gee. I’m feeling neglected. Sad. Unimportant. Crushed.

But never mind about me.

28. November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

As I pondered earlier (see the paragraph after the bold Sluggish), I wondered how the audience reacted to Sunday’s opera performance. I thought it was sluggish. There was even one rather major mistake made by a singer. Nothing felt right to me.

Hah!

This is our best review yet.

So again, so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow* on the subjective.

*If you don’t understand that little joke, well, never mind!

Now Listening To
Werther by Massenet. For reasons to be announced later, I’m sure. (This is an opera I’m entirely unfamiliar with.)
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27. November 2006 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

I always enjoy a good Denk blog. Sometimes he writes so poetically I’m ashamed to have even attempted poetry. Sometimes he’s very humorous. But this one is priceless! Especially for those of us in the Bay Area. I wish I could have attended the concert but you know how it goes … we performers are often performing when we’d like to attend a performance by someone else. Such is life.
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