29. September 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: Reviews, Videos

Reviewer Richard Scheinin returned to Anna Karenina for the closing performance, with the other cast. He appears to have been a wee bit encouraged by this second viewing and hearing. He still isn’t enthralled. But still, it’s better.

I would love it if a reviewer could sit in on much more. In some ways it would be cool, in fact, if they could play their instrument (assuming they were musicians before reviewers) a few times during rehearsals … I think it helps a person understand the work.

… and speaking of reviewers being musicians. I was charmed by the fact that Anthony Tommasini, a reviewer for the New York Times, is willing to play piano publicly … he knows how reviewers can be! :-)

29. September 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: Quotes

I write music like an apple tree produces apples.

-Saint Saëns

I love Mahler’s music. Really. Some of it, like his Rückert lieder and some of the slow movements in his symphonies, can move me in an incredible way.

But I sure struggle playing Mahler. And I wish it didn’t have to be that way.

This week we are doing Songs of the Wayfarer. Dear Mr. Mahler has included English horn. Oddly enough the first entrance is in the first oboe part, but I’ll still play it. This entrance, of three notes starting on a low C, occurs at the end of the third movement, begins piano and repeats another two times, diminishing in volume. Nice, eh? No warm up? Unkind. Then the fourth movement begins with English horn (now in the second oboe part) and flutes, and the first three notes of the piece are low D to F# to B for English horn (printed, so sounding a fourth below), all of which have to be played very softy so as not to be as present as the flutes. This little ditty repeats as well. It’s the volume that makes this all somewhat tricky for yours truly. I finally crammed a swab in the bell to make it soft enough. Then, of course, there are two other places where I need to play out more, so I’m not sure the swab will be a good idea (I have to see if I have time to remove it). The work could be played with only two players, but since we already have another oboist for the week we went ahead and split things, so I at least don’t have to move from second oboe to EH. But it’s that not playing, not being allowed to get comfortable, and then having to enter pianissimo on something that is important.

Ah, the life of an English hornist; sit sit sit sit sit sit sit sit sit — ready set play! — sit sit sit sit sit … and repeat.

Next set is similar; we are doing a Dohnanyi work that calls for me to play second oboe in movements 1, 3, and 5 and then I have major English horn solos beginning on the very first beat of movements 2 and 4. If I don’t alter the oboe part and play it on English horn — and I’m not sure I will be able to do that — it’s going to be StressCity™ … and I can’t tell you how weary I am of StressCity™.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting too old for this!

I get the feeling that other English hornists don’t fret over this like I do. Maybe I’m just a wimp? Hmmm. Well, yes, I know I’m a wimp! Silly me. Guess I need to just learn to deal. (Is that possible at my age?)

BUT … do listen to the Mahler. It’s really an incredible piece. (I’m not sure why the title of our concert is “Romance and Celebration” though; the Mahler isn’t exactly a cheerful or romantic thing. Hmmm.

Thomas Allen is singing the work, with Vaclav Neumann named as conductor. I didn’t see the orchestra named anywhere, but I didn’t exactly search for very long:

29. September 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: Oboe, Opera

Perhaps his talents owe something to his instrumentalist upbringing: Music has been Owens’ passion since grade school. He grew up in Philadelphia, where he still lives, and was already playing oboe professionally in high school. But it was also in high school where he found he could sing — really sing.

“This may sound funny, but I saw more career potential in singing than being an oboe player,” Owens says. “As competitive as the opera world is, there’s always a job to be had somewhere — and, you know, there are companies who always need people.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams says that background as an instrumentalist is part of what makes Owens such a superlative musician.

“He’s got this special past, where he really knows what it means to be in an orchestra, to count, to listen for pitch,” Adams says. “His fundamentals — his musical chops, as we call it — are so secure.”

I’m not saying all singers who haven’t played instruments can’t count and don’t have a good pitch center, but I certainly believe that playing an instrument can help greatly with those things.

I had read before that Owens played oboe, but I had no idea he was playing professionally while in high school. Wow.


29. September 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: TQOD

Yay!!! I got the right sound on the reed to the oboe!I’m gonna play the oboe in band!!! WEEEEEEEE

28. September 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: Asked Online

What kind of classical music should i play for my son when he goes to sleep?

He’s 8 months old, was sleeping through the night until his tooth started to bother him. He now wakes up at least once in the middle of the night and i am having a hard time putting him to sleep. Any advice as for which classical music i should play….thanks all.

Hmm. Anyone know what sort of music to play when someone is teething? ;-)

28. September 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: Books

My long-awaited second book, Boozehound, is now in stores. No, wait, mine is Listen to This. Today is the official release date, and I will celebrate, as is my long-standing custom, by placing a signed copy of the book in a little handmade boat in the shape of a swan and setting it loose in the waters of the Hudson River. Actually, I have never done any such thing, and am unlikely to do so now, but I like the image.


Hmmm. Maybe his next book will be Boozehound?

I read Alex Ross’s first book and enjoyed it tremendously. Guess we’ll have to put this one on the list to pick up when money starts rolling in again!

Here are links, in case you want to go ahead and get the book(s) now:

Listen to This

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

My daughter is joining band and she’s considering the oboe, my first thought, “who plays the oboe?, my second thought, “my baby, that’s who!” I love the fact that she marches to the beat of her own drum, so today, let’s think outside of the box! Good Morning faceboogers! Have a great day!!

28. September 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: TQOD

I was just like “What is that racket? Which kid got a hold of a party noise maker?” Then I discover it’s my son “playing” his new oboe

28. September 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: Quotes

Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.