happy new year, I guess.

i’ve never understood what the big deal was, to be honest. I just have to remember a new number when I write checks. And I write checks infrequently these days. My real year begins when the new opera and symphony seasons begin and the schools start up, to be honest. So there you go.

I don’t do resolutions. I don’t stay up until midnight. (Not deliberately anyway.) I don’t have a party.

I think I sound very, very boring.

But we had a nice evening with family, had some good food, and we watched The Court Jester.

I’m fine with that.

But … okay … I wish all of you a wonderful year full of laughter and cheer. And maybe good reeds too.

31. December 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: Links, Ramble

Kim Witman brings us some more pit stories.

Silly brass players. ;-)

So I’m going to be reorganizing my blog links. It’s time. Some folks haven’t been writing for months. If that’s you, and you still wish to be included, please let me know. Otherwise, it’s curtains for you. So take a bow if you’d like.

If you are a blogger as well as a reader of this site, and your are weeping buckets because you are missing from the blogroll, please let me know. I might be adding a blog or two. (I have so many already and I do wonder how many readers bother to look through the long list, though. Do you blogfolk check to see if you are getting visitors from over here? Of course I don’t get many hits from other blogs—some days I get none at all—so I’m not sure if these links do anyone any good at all!) Oh … and if I’ve put you in the wrong category, please let me know! I can easily move things around.

30. December 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: Ramble

I went to see Sweeney Todd today. I’m not going to put up a huge review. It’s not my style. But I’ll write a wee bit here.

I wasn’t blown away. I guess I was expecting—or hoping—to be. It was fine. It was disturbing, as it should be. But there were just a few things that bothered me. I think someone could have benefitted from a singing lesson or two. All the singers but the boy who played Toby seemed somewhat underpowered … in some ways it felt like “vacant singing” to me, if that makes any sense. I wasn’t drawn in as I thought I would have been.

The blood? Well, there was a lot of red. Very bright red. It seemed somewhat unreal, though. I still wanted to look away (and did) at times.

And I missed the chorus greatly.

But I’m sounding mighty negative. I’m not saying I hated it. I love the music, and it was wonderful to hear the full orchestra in a movie theatre! The scene for By The Sea was super! And Johnny Depp was a good Sweeney. (But no more of that slipping up to the note for me, thanks.)

30. December 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: Links, Other People's Words

Read here:

WANNA SEE: The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra has excellent double reed players. Some pieces featuring oboe, bassoon and English horn would be wonderful — maybe some Sibelius or Shostakovich? And I’d love to see Ralph Vaughn Williams on next season’s program.

30. December 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: Art, Links

The above is a mini-quote by Leonard Bernstein, read in this article by Anthony Tommasini. Check it out.

(By the way … I loved the illustration, by Koren Shadmi, at the top of the article. You can read the illustrator’s blog here. He does really great work.)

30. December 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: Links, Listen, Ramble

So … is Bach really pronounced “Batch” by some? That’s what it sounds like in this podcast by “audio newsstand”, whatever that is. (New to me, anyway.) And Prokofiev as “Procofeeve” (or something like that, with the accent on the first syllable). The British sounding voice sounds computerized, with no expression whatsoever. Of course a lot of compsoers’ names are pronounced in a variety of ways! Bizarre, if you ask me. Maybe even bizarre if you don’t ask me! There are some other “huh?” moments too, where I can’t figure out exactly what the “person” is saying. Hmmm. Did the voice just say “Frank Zapra”?

Okay. I’ll go now. But listen … it’s kind of funny. To me anyway.

30. December 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: Links, Ramble

How many times have you read that (title of this entry) in a review or article (or on wikipedia) about the English horn? Yeah. too many times.

Several years ago I found an article that I clearly just skimmed, because I sure hadn’t noticed this:

There isn’t really anything “English” about the English horn: The instrument, a tenor oboe, takes its name from a Middle German word that meant both “English” and “angelic” – the predecessor of the English horn was thought to resemble the horns played by angels in medieval religious images.

Well … now that was news to me. But checking with wikipedia, which is never wrong (tee hee) I do read that explanation among others. Interesting.

Anyway, the article I’m quoting above is from an older CNN article about Thomas Stacy. In case you are interested.

Me? Well, Dan has often referred to the EH as “anguished horn” and I think we should just switch over to that. Works. for me!

If you’re not vocalizing, something’s missing.

-Kim Kashkashian (violist, read here)

I try to get my students to sing on occasion. They fight that. I can’t imagine not singing, and of course as some around here will tell you, I tend to whistle along with music when I’m in the car. I like silence. I adore silence sometimes, in fact. But it seems I can’t keep silent myself much of the time. Hmmm.

But back to making music on an instrument and singing. When I really know a piece, it’s in my blood. And my (not so very beautiful sounding) vocal chords. Vocalizing is a good thing. And, truthfully, I want my playing to be like singing. Human. Natural. I’m not sure if Ms. Kashkashian is actually suggesting that this is why we should vocalize. But those are my brief thoughts at the moment. After half a cup of coffee. And no breakfast yet. :-)

I did a gig recently that I have sworn I will never do again. I was freezing the entire time. I was so cold that my body ached from being so tense. One player was so sharp and one so flat there was nothing to do about pitch. (They didn’t seem to notice any problem.) The music was mediocre stuff. The conductor had beat patterns that threw me until I figured out what was going on (6/8 was two bars of three, some other mixed meter portions were just messed up). Everyone was as nice as can be, though. So there’s that. And people who attended loved it.

The thing is, I’m guessing I’ll be asked back. So will I be able to stick to my “Say No” plan? I wonder. Sometimes I need the work and that causes me to cave. Especially at certain times of the year.

What to do about these tough jobs? We musicians who don’t play in full time orchestras can’t just turn down everything. Sometimes the jobs get us frustrated. Sometimes angry. Sometimes just exhausted. And sometimes embarrassed.

So I try to decide which are worth the extra effort or energy.

There are times I take a job because I know that the audience will love it, despite my reservations. I have to go in with a good attitude. Being down on a gig is just a bad way to begin; it means I’ll be uptight the entire time. Going in with a snobby attitude is especially detrimental. The funny thing is that I sometimes then end up playing poorly and that isn’t a option. No matter what gig I take I have to play the best I can play. This doesn’t mean I should play the best that some of the other musicians play … I have to play my best. Period.

Okay. Thoughts done for the moment. This is probably coming across as egotistical or something. Saying, “This gig just isn’t good enough,” probably sound awful (and of course I would never put it that way to whoever wants to hire me). But it is something we have to deal with on occasion.