28. February 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

I get news and blog feeds, and one that was titled “San Jose The Fun Never Stops” then when on to advertise Symphony Silicon Valley playing Verdi’s Requiem.

Now I’m not saying classical music isn’t fun, mind you, but the juxtaposition of “fun” with “Requiem” just made me laugh.
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27. February 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

I have a lot of updating to do at this site. Today I worked on the audition pages. All of the current auditions were out of date, and I needed to transfer all the out of date repertoire lists to the Past Auditions page. Done!

That took a long time, and my hands are aching horribly after all that work. Some days are worse than others when it comes to hand woes. I have English horn coming up, and I need to be a bit cautious about how much I wear out these old hands ‘o mine.

I also haven’t updated my CD Library for eons. So that’s next on the list. With so many emusic downloads, I have a ton of recordings to add. I’ve also downloaded a few iTunes CDs as well. So much work, but time to play catch up, I think. I hope!

And still, my performance pages are out of date, too.

Argh. I’m far too behind.
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27. February 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

For the first time since probably May or June of 2006 I’m at Coffeetopia, here in Santa Cruz. I didn’t manage to get breakfast at home before leaving for school, so I decided I’d better pick up a bite to eat. But no coffee today; it’s Early Grey for me. I’m just in the mood.

The shock of all shocks is that Coffeetopia is playing classical music. Not that I care about it—you can barely hear anything over the coffeemaking and chatter. But anyway, it’s different than what they used to play. We are hearing the Overture to Rienzi and it’s been eons since I’ve heard that piece. I think the last time I played it was probably when I was in high school (so it was transcribed for band).

Meanwhile, there’s a very sweet little three-month old baby next to me. Cute as can be. You can read a bit more about my experience here, including things about this baby and mommy, if you go to the pattyo. I don’t like to “double blog”. Seems kind of like cheating.
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Ballet orchestras tend to be much worse than symphony orchestras or those that accompany opera. For years, the New York City Ballet Orchestra has been beyond embarrassing, producing not music but a barren hodgepodge of feints in the general direction of what the composer called for, all held together with a leaden hand by the conductor. The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra can sound like two entirely unrelated groups, depending not only on who is conducting but whether the music is accompanying dancers or singers. It’s always worse for dance.

With the Opera House Orchestra alternating with the City Ballet Orchestra — a contractual quirk of the City Ballet’s yearly visits to the Kennedy Center — it’s been a race to the bottom.

“Last week, the New York City Ballet Orchestra was in the pit,” wrote Post critic Sarah Kaufman in March 2005. “All three programs were accompanied by spongy, unremarkable and, at certain painful points, flawed performances of what must be its standard fare.”

Yikes. Those are mighty harsh words. (I read them here.)

Now I’ve not heard the orchestras back there, so I can’t say anything about them But I certainly do wonder if they can be that horrible.

In defense of ballet orchestras, though: so often the choreographer destroys the music. It’s very difficult to play some works twice as fast or twice as slow as the music should go. And I have noticed that some ballet conductors aren’t exactly the best, although we worked this year with Martin West, and he was excellent. (And, lucky us, he’s returning to Symphony Silicon Valley next season!) In fact, here’s a clip from a review regarding the maestro:

Two months ago, conductor Martin West stood before the English National Ballet Orchestra, leading a sweeping movement of Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty.” He was waiting for the principal ballerina to begin the “Rose Adagio,” a dance requiring her to stand en pointe while being promenaded in a circle by four princes, one at a time.
On a bad night, she might lose her balance and come down from her toes, slowing the action. On a good night — like this one for Agnes Oaks — she would stay up longer than expected, to show off, leaving no time for the promenades.

Such deviations are the bane of the ballet orchestra conductor, whose reputation relies not only on making beautiful music but also on synchronizing stage and sound. Too slow, the ballet feels lethargic. Too fast and the dancers can’t keep up or — even worse — the music ends and the dancers are still moving.

The ideal conductor, it seems, would be an observer, mind reader and problem solver. Fortunately for the San Francisco Ballet, West — the company’s new music director and principal conductor — is a little bit of everything.

Reading that, you can begin to understand what musicians and conductor are up against. It’s not about the music … it’s about those dancers! This is what drives me bonkers. I would suggest that choreographers should make the dance fit the music at its correct tempo. They would, I’m sure, suggest we deal with it. Well, I don’t like to deal. But of course I have to.

In order of preference, this is what I like to do:

  • opera
  • chamber music
  • symphony
  • musical theatre
  • practicing
  • cooking
  • cleaning the bathroom
  • yard work
  • reed making
  • hitting myself in the face
  • ballet music
  • Anyway, I ramble. Mostly I just wanted to say to the reviewer, “Hey! Go easy on the poor ballet orchestra.”

    26. February 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

    “I≠m not moved to seek revenge,≈ he says, ≥but I≠m very glad that the truth is at last known.”

    -Von Bahr

    So Barrington-Coupe has confessed in a sort of wimpy way. Stealing for his wife? Giving her the attention she deserved? Hmmm. “I’m sorry, but but but …” sounds like a five year old. Sigh.

    The story, though, is a sad one. I don’t have much to say about it, actually. I’m just glad the guy actually did admit his wrongdoing; pretending Hatto’s recordings could be precisely the same as someone else’s was simply foolishness.

    Traviata is over so today is what some have called “hangover day”. It’s recovery time, and catch up time, and a sort of melancholy day where I realize I will miss the show (just as Mike has mentioned), and yet it’s always good to move on. Ravel. Copland. Verdi. Here I come!
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    25. February 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

    All in all, the Academy Awards show was a bit of a bore.

    No surprise, there.

    The commercials were a bit more interesting, I think.

    And now on to my week with no gigs. Free time! I’ll finish up taxes, I hope. I’ll clean the house, I hope. I’ll do the laundry, I hope. I’ll make reeds, I hope. I’ll plant the rose a dear friend gave me in memory of my father. (That’s an “I will for sure!)

    And I’ll definitely practice. Copland Symphony No. 3, here we come. (Along with Bolero.)
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    25. February 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

    It seems like the commercials during the Academy Awards show are better than the ones during the Superbowl.

    Maybe it’s just me, though …?

    Looks like GM has changed the ending to the one they had during the Superbowl; no more suicide for the machine. I had heard that some suicide prevention groups had complained about it. I’m not sure if it’s just that they shortened it, or if they changed it. (I hadn’t paid that much attention during the game.)

    Hah! Ellen just said “Someone dropped their rolling papers. Oh … someone in the band.”

    Of course. ;-)
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    25. February 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

    Hoorah for Ennio Morricone.

    I just love that man’s music. But of course he wrote a work that included the word “oboe” so why wouldn’t I?

    (He’s been awarded a lifeteime achievement award, in case you didn’t know about that already.)

    Funny note: when I was in junior high I had to take “modern dance”. Now I was no graceful girl. I was not cute. I was awkward and unattractive (sorry mom, but I know this to be true!), and I wasn’t a happy camper either. So taking modern dance sure wasn’t what I had in mind. But there you go. Our “dance” (I made mine up on the spot, actually) was to The Good, Bad and the Ugly. I’ll never forget that music! (I have, thankfully, forgotten my horrible dance.)

    Anyway … back to the man and his music. He writes music that melts my heart. I have the CD of Yo-Yo Ma playing his music, and there are times I put it on just to cry. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. I would just love to play a concert of his music.

    Ahhhh … and Mr. Morricone just dedicated his award to his wife. Double ahhhh.
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    25. February 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: imported, Ramble

    So Jill is live blogging about the awards. And I’m watching the show and reading her blog. Great fun! Nearly like we are in the same room.

    Okay. Not really.

    I’m also eating a wonderful meal (thanks, Dan!), drinking a beer, and reading various online things.

    Seems to me that the advertisements this year on the show are touchy-feely sorts … kind of like the show itself. As Dan was commenting about not really caring any more for the music they put on the show, I was tearing up.

    What can I say? I’m a sucker for that sort of thing.

    Opera is over … and I was just really getting into it! I absolutely loved playing the end of the second act … where the principal oboe (me) plays with the soprano. And I love the way sometimes I’m with her and then she drops out and I continue. We kind of hand things back and forth … very cool to play. AND my reed was happy.

    Which makes me happy.

    And when I’m happy the whole world is happy.

    Right?

    But back to the show … I’m still waiting for “Best Oboe Reed Maker”. Needless to say, I wasn’t even nominated.

    Oh … and Jill … the only movie I saw this year that is on the list was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

    Oh dear.
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    Oboe Ticket:

    Okay … I’m gonna do a better job later … right now I’m just too tired, and I have opera at 3:00. But I thought I’d at least post this little ticket for now.

    I’m SURE I can get more creative.

    Or can I?