So we had opening night, and I’m just home. It went, as far as I could tell, very, very well! I think, in fact, it was one of our smoothest openings. But maybe that’s just because I was content with my reed and, well, things do revolve around a reed … right?

Funny story, though:
The principal violist was struggling with the amount of space she had, so she suggested we try to reset things tomorrow. Well, it was just as easy to reset between the first and second acts. No prob! (We like happy and comfortable musicians, yes?) So I put my oboe on my chair and went to move a stair that was in front of me (which enables the flutist to go up to the next level so she can see Lucia when they play their “mad music”). Can you guess what happened next? I hope not! I hope I’m not so goofy that readers know what I did without my having to ‘fess up.

I sat on my oboe!

Now I didn’t sit down hard, and I’m sure I barely put any pressure on it, but of course one still worries. By the time I picked it up and put a reed in it I had to tune the orchestra, so I could barely check it out. I managed, too, to put the reed in the wrong direction so my first A just felt odd. I think the flutes thought I was just terribly nervous about the “big” (for this opera) oboe solo that comes up shortly into the second act. Not so! Who has time to be nervous when one is checking her oboe to be sure she didn’t bend keys. Heh.

Anyway, the solo went very well (if I’m allowed to say that), and I can tell no harm was done to the oboe. (I did have my second instrument with me tonight, so at least I could have pulled that out for the remainder of the opera if necessary, but I would have been quite ticked at myself if I ruined my solo!)

And now I’m home and so darn hungry and mad that I can’t eat this late at night. Ah well. Life!

08. September 2007 · Comments Off on AARGH! · Categories: Ramble

I just saw my first Nutcracker TV ad. It’s for the San Francisco Ballet.

This is simply too soon for me. And, I hope, anyone else. The SF Ballet’s production begins December 13. Even putting an ad on the TV on December 12 would be too soon for yours truly. Go figure.

08. September 2007 · Comments Off on Killer Opera · Categories: Ramble

Though musicians bristle at the claim, some evidence suggests the classics are just loud noise for the non-music lover. In the 1990s, opera singers rehearsing in a Copenhagen park apparently caused a rare African okapi at the nearby zoo to collapse and die from stress.


The article is dealing with more than killing of animals, of course. It’s about hearing damage. And yes, I would guess I’ve hurt my hearing over the years, sitting where I do. But no, I don’t play with earplugs if I can help it. When I do use earplugs I lose too much sensitivity to intonation and more. In addition I hear my tongue clicking and it drives me nuts.

I wouldn’t want our “noise” to be regulated by government officials. I think self-monitoring is a much better way to deal with the issue. We use sound shields in the orchestras I’m involved in. They help. A little.

08. September 2007 · Comments Off on An October Recital & Opera · Categories: Ramble

I think I’m scheduled to play Quiet City at a recital on October 24, but so far no one is communicating about rehearsing the thing. Hmmm. Guess time will tell.

The UCSC Faculty Recital is scheduled and in print, so I know that one had better happen! Guess we ought to start thinking about rehearsal scheduled, eh? You can see the preliminary poster here. I hope it’s preliminary anyway, as I see a bit of a glitch on it. Or maybe it’s just my glitchy eyes …?

Opera San José’s Lucia di Lammermoor opening night is tonight. This is an opera which makes me thankful I’m an oboist rather than a flutist. Being a flutist can drive a person mad. If you know what I mean.

08. September 2007 · Comments Off on Madeleine L’Engle · Categories: Ramble

I made mention of L’Engle’s death at the pattyo, but I really should have mention it here as well. Another loss for many of us.

Madeline L’Engle frequently wrote about music, and wrote a book I truly loved about the arts and Christians called Walking on Water. I admired her for her writing, and I believe I read every bit of fiction she wrote and nearly every non-fiction book as well.

08. September 2007 · Comments Off on Family Second · Categories: Ramble

This was a message to Bryn Terfel:

The deal for any great performer – and your talent puts you in the very front rank – is as tough as it would be for a soldier or politician: just as Gordon Brown abandoned his bucket and spade when foot and mouth broke out, so you have to make your art your priority.

The show goes on though the bombs are falling; the enterprise is bigger than you are. There is no room for sentimentality: you have to be ruthless and put your personal life second. We don’t know the details of your son’s accident, but the boy has a mother and it’s her job to be at the bedside.


Excuse me? Why is it the mother’s job? I didn’t see that in the job description. I think it’s a parent’s job, and having had some situations where a child of ours was in some kind of situation like this it wasn’t necessarily my responsibility to be by the bedside. (But yes, our work situations did determine who would be the care taker. I’ll grant the writer that.)

According to Rupert Christiansen, Terfel cancelled his performances of Siegfried because, sometime in the summer, one of his children had smashed a finger that required surgery. But the writer also hints that he hadn’t learned his part.

I’m sure the opera houses are going to flag Terfel’s name. I’m sure he knows that. Christiansen seems to imply, by sending advice to Terfel, that he’s stupid enough not to understand the consequences of his choice. Right. Musicians are so darn stupid.

Or not.

And I’m not sure what I think about Terfel’s bowing out at such a late time. I don’t know the whole story, and it’s not really my business. But I disagree with the writer. Music is a joy. Music is a wonderful career. But I don’t believe it should take precedence over family. Just because some maladjusted or “heroic” people went on with the show when a mother or father died. Just because some opted not to have a family, left a spouse, or chose to have someone else raise his or her children doesn’t make those choices correct. Or admirable. (Although I do believe opting not to have a family might be wise for some. Of course I’ve seen parents who should have made that choice.)

The writer goes on to say:

For obvious reasons, women find the dilemmas it presents even more agonising than men do – the call of a child’s need is something that every mother is biologically as well as emotionally programmed to answer.

Oh. Really? I must say Dan was equally prone to answer the “call of a child’s need” when our kiddos were home. He was, in fact, more likely to answer at times. Give me a break! Women used to be expected to answer the call of the child before a father did. They were also expected to stay home instead of getting a job.

Okay. I ramble. I guess I just think the guy is off-base in the article, even while knowing that Terfel may have blown it big time in this particular cancelation. Maybe I’m wrong. It can happen.

But when “the bombs are falling” I hope every parent is with his or her family rather than going on with the show.