The orchestra will play a long piece, Rachmaninoff’s second symphony, then intersperse it with selections from Bach’s concerto for violin and oboe, with the soloists playing those instruments, said Carmon DeLeone, the symphony’s musical director.

Okay. Something seems very odd with all of this. First of all “the soloists playing those instruments” … um … well yes, when there’s a concerto for violin and oboe the soloists would play those instruments. And then … are they saying they are going back and forth between the two works. Maybe I’m just not undertanding the article. That is often the case. Feel free to help me out!

But if they really are hopping back and forth between the two works, no comment. Aside from “no thank you”.

More…

It would be good if I read a complete article before I wrote about it, eh? The article goes on:

DeLeone thought it wise to break up the 46-minute Rachmaninoff symphony into sections, which actually might help some listeners recognize the piece. Pop songwriters have been known to co-opt Rachmaninoff melodies into their own tunes.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. This is really sad.

Even more…

As for the Bach tune, that is famous as a concerto specifically for violin and oboe, hence the two soloists playing those instruments Hal Grossman plays violin; Adrian Gnam, the oboe.

HEEELLLPPPPP!

7 Comments

  1. REALLY icky! I remember some years back attending a concert by the Fairfax (VA) symphony. They’d programmed “The Planets”. Except, they omitted an entire movement (“Saturn”). And, they substituted a really tacky synthesizer with backstage speakers for the women’s chorus. There was no notice on the program and no announcement of the changes.

    To me, this simply howled contempt for both the audience and the music. I never attended another of their concerts.

    I read lots of blog discussions bemoaning “the death of classical music”. Lots of them seem to think the solutions would involve loosening up concert dress and protocol or more “crossover” programming. None of this will ever counteract music programming that openly dismisses the value of the music itself.

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    May I use your last paragraph as a MQOD? I’d give you credit, of course (full name, please?) … and if you have a website I’d happily link to it. Just say the word.

    I’m so tired of these ideas that folks come up with. This one, in particular, is distressing—it sounds as if the conductor thought it was a great idea. Sigh.

    I don’t believe that classical music will die … UNLESS we keep doing stupid things. Seems like some what to kill it off. (Of course some writers are making money off of predicting its demise, so I suppose they’d be quite happy to see symphonies die. Except what would they write about then, I wonder?!)

  3. I’m happy to give my full name. Bill Brice. I am a former professional flutist, now a full-time computer weenie. However, I have no website of my own. Feel free to quote me as you wish.

    I’ve been reading other blogs that seem to stress applause etiquette and dress codes as causes for “the death of classical music”. I am skeptical, to say the least, of this analysis. Most performance art (just like most religious services) involve a “protocol” to be shared by celebrants and participants. The details of the protocol can differ and can change over time, but some agreed-upon decorum is a large part of what brings the people together in a community event.

    I’ve been inspired over the years by some performers who are able to communicate joy — and sometimes wink a little at concert formality (YoYo and Sir James come to mind here). What’s turned me away from other performance venues has been the ho-hum, “who cares about the audience” attitude I sometimes see. And, where that attitude does exist, it isn’t masked by the wearing of denim onstage.

    By the way, Patty… your blog is always a pleasure to read. I remember the small and large frustrations of professional music life, but I like it that you still have that joy in what you do. Wish I could get out there to hear you play sometime!

  4. Patricia Mitchell

    Thanks, Bill! As I’m sure you’ve noticed, you are today’s MQOD. :-)

    So you were a full time professional flutist, eh? And then you saw the light?! You didn’t wear enough jewelry to be a flutist …?? Just kidding with you. My flute pals in the opera pit always hear me teasing them; they are dressed to the nines. I’m dressed. That’s all.

    Do you play at all any more?

    I’m so tired of the “death of classical music” that I hate to talk about it any more. I do believe there are things that we can do differently, and I’m not opposed to change if it is for the better, but I think perhaps quality and programming should be at the top of that list. I have a feeling that those of us who went through the rather lush years (for a musician) in the late 80s and part of the 90s have grown complacent. We just want to earn more and play less. (Heck, I heard a colleague say exactly those words at one negotiating meeting. Sigh.

    When you bring up religious services I just have to laugh; a few years ago my (now former) church got into this huge thing about how we could be “more relevant” and how we could draw in the younger crowd. (Of course dumping anything liturgical and moving to contemporary music were the first big things to happen) I laughed out loud at one meeting (I was on the board) and said they sounded just like the marketing folk in orchestras. (I kind of thought “relevant” might be things like “salvation” and “forgiveness” and “redemption” and, dare I say it, “God” and even “Jesus” — pardon the religious talk but that’s what the Christian faith involved, yes? — and that perhaps they mostly wanted to start a country club where everyone could sit around and be happy, not have any controversy, and mindlessly yak.)

    Oh DEAR, but I ramble … even on this discussion list. I never end! :-)

    Anyway, I’m happy to hear from you and know what you think about the state of the arts.

    I’m glad you like the blog. I try to be as honest as possible … without gossiping or putting someone down (even if the person might be deserving of a bit of harshness) … I hope I manage to do that for the most part. And I try VERY hard not to whine too much. I’m sure you know how much we can complain and whine! But yes, I do love what I do. It brings me joy. I hope it brings other people joy as well. In some ways it’s quite a selfish job, you know?

    If you’re ever in this neighborhood, do let me know!

  5. As a professional editor and copywriter of journals, legal documents, and other professional documents, this article offends me. It sounds as if a 4th grader wrote it.

    Hal Grossman used to be a violin instructor at the Interlochen Arts Academy while I was there. Should be an interesting performance.  

  6. Patricia Mitchell

    It this offended you what did you think of the Harvard Business School article? That was so horribly written I couldn’t believe it!

  7. So I wrote this guy and had an email discussion. it went like this:

    March 11th, 12:00 am

    Dear Mr. Robinette,
    I am writing to ask if your article was
    proofed by an editor? The wording is extremely awkward, and the logic
    doesn’t make sense. Such passages as:


    The orchestra will play a long piece, Rachmaninoff’s second symphony,
    then intersperse it with selections from Bach’s concerto for violin and
    oboe, with the soloists playing those instruments, said Carmon DeLeone,
    the symphony’s musical director.


    As for the Bach tune, that is famous as a concerto specifically for
    violin and oboe, hence the two soloists playing those instruments Hal
    Grossman plays violin; Adrian Gnam, the oboe.

    These seem fatally awkward. I hope your work will be better worded in the future.
    CJW

    March 11th, 6:30 am

    Hello Mr. Wright,

    Yes, my story was supposed to have been edited. As for those specific passages:

    (The orchestra will play a long piece, Rachmaninoff’s second symphony,
    then intersperse it with selections from Bach’s concerto for violin and
    oboe, with the soloists playing those instruments, said Carmon DeLeone,
    the symphony’s musical director.)

    That sentence as written makes sense to me, although the sentence is a bit long and perhaps could have been broken up.

    (As for the Bach tune, that is famous as a concerto specifically for
    violin and oboe, hence the two soloists playing those instruments Hal
    Grossman plays violin; Adrian Gnam, the oboe.)

    The problem here seems to be a period missing after instruments. That may have been a typo on my part.

    The editors and I do try to make the writing as clear as possible. Let
    me know if I can clarify anything any further, and thanks for your
    interest.

    E Robinette

    March 11th, 10:00 am

    Thank you Eric for your note.

    I think the problem is the pronoun
    of “it” and undefined, and sounds as though its referring to the 2nd
    Symphony. A Symphony can not be interspersed with smaller pieces, but
    rather performed as a whole. I suppose an edited version might be:

    The orchestra will perform the lengthy Symphony 2 by
    Rachmaninoff, while interspersing the concert with other works such as
    Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe., said Carmon Deleone, the
    symphony’s musical director.

    The other peculiar part of this sentence is that it is simply
    redundant, stating that the Concerto for violin and oboe will be
    performed by a violinist and oboist. Of course this performance would
    be performed by such soloists. A hornist never performs an oboe
    concerto, nor does a cellist ever perform a violin concerto. This is
    simply the way of classical music.

    As for the other line, I think the “hence” again feels that it
    re-emphasizes that a concerto for violin and oboe, is being performed
    by (ironically of all instruments) a violin and an oboist. Furthermore
    as you mentioned, there seems to be punctuation missing or a word
    missing between instruments and Hal.

    Please pardon my nitpickiness. I’m a freelancer editor, and
    also a classically trained musician. We don’t get enough press as it
    is; every bit of press that we do get I hope will be of the finest
    caliber.

    Yours Truly,
    CJW

    March 11th, 12:40 pm

    Hello again, Mr. Wright. You had said:

    <<I think the problem is the pronoun of “it” and undefined, and
    sounds as though its referring to the 2nd Symphony. A Symphony can not
    be interspersed with smaller pieces, but rather performed as a
    whole.>>


    It was in this case. Because the Rachmaninoff is a long piece, it was
    broken up into movements and performed in sections through the show. At
    least that≠s the way it was explained to me.

    <<The other peculiar part of this sentence is that it is simply
    redundant, stating that the Concerto for violin and oboe will be
    performed by a violinist and oboist.>>


    True, but my aim was to explain that it was a violin and oboe piece and
    then explain which was which, although I could have worded it more
    gracefully.

    <<Please pardon my nitpickiness. I’m a freelancer editor, and
    also a classically trained musician. We don’t get enough press as it
    is; every bit of press that we do get I hope will be of the finest
    caliber.>>


    Very understandable. I was once a writing tutor myself, so I can see
    where you are coming from. I may not be the best judge of my own work,
    but I do try to make it readable. What I wrote seemed to work to me at
    the time, although since you are a musician and I am not, you saw the
    piece through a different prism. I appreciate that your criticism was
    constructive and will keep what you say in mind.

    Regards,
    E Robinette

    I still don’t see where anyone would consider the work a “Bach tune”.