Piazzolla: Escualo

Moscow Scherzo Quartet

05. December 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: FBQD

Dear Santa, can I have my very own oboe? Ive been good this year..for the most part, I promise! Love, [name here]

05. December 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Reviews

Love is all you need — and somehow all there is to offer — when Frederica von Stade begins to sing. Even after all these years, the proof was onstage Saturday at the Herbst Theatre where the beloved mezzo-soprano starred in her own hometown retirement party of sorts, joined by starry friends, who festooned her with songs and tributes.
“It’s taken 40 years to get us all in one room,” joked soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, one of the Olympians who took part in this goody basket of a sold-out concert. Guests included the venerable — bass Samuel Ramey, baritone Richard Stilwell and surprise guest mezzo Marilyn Horne — and also the more recently anointed — Susan Graham and Joyce DiDonato, both uber-talented mezzos. The crowd barely had time to catch its breath as the briskly paced and beautifully sung program, titled “Celebrating Frederica von Stade,” moved from one number to the next.
Von Stade, 66 — who has lived for years in Alameda and long ago made her mark with San Francisco Opera, one of the night’s five presenters — didn’t let the evening turn overly sentimental. In fact, at the outset, she ran onstage, already in role as Cherubino, the love-struck page in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro.”

Read here.

I remember when Frederica von Stade sang with San Jose Symphony many years ago. It was back when we were broadcast live over a local classical radio station (remember those?). Prior to her singing she was pacing backstage and said something about how nervous live broadcasts made her. I loved that — it made me feel good to know someone of her calibre was nervous as well. Of course she was wonderful! Whatever it was we were doing had a good amount of English horn in it. (I have a tape of it somewhere around here that someone sent to me — we were doing a Ravel work for voice and orchestra and it had a large English horn solo in it but I sure can’t remember what it was! Anyone know what work that would be? Do tell! I should pull it out and see if I can find a tape player that would allow me to hear it.)

I wish I could have attended her farewell concert, but of course I had work. I have always enjoyed and admired her. Yet another musician (like Mr. Nakamatsu) who gives back.

I finished up with the Symphony Silicon Valley concerts last night. It was quite the busy week, having a “Concital”, two regular symphony sets, and a Chinese oratorio concert (“Ode to the Big Wind” or “Song of the Big Wind” … I’m not sure which is right as I’ve seen it both ways). I have yet to figure out exactly what the Chinese choral concert was about, but it was fun to play, and I had a nice grieving sort of solo in one movement. I love to grieve and whine and all that ….

For me, though, the highlight was Jon Nakamatsu. That man! He’s just such a wonderful musician. And a nice guy. The way he plays astounds me. He is not showy. He doesn’t go for the glitz. He plays with refinement and beauty. There was a chord at the end of one encore that was so incredible and I wonder at how he can manage to get different timbres from the piano. He seems to have a magic touch, but of course we all know it’s more about hard work and talent than it is about magic. What a joy to hear him play.

Now of course I have to whine a wee bit … WHY OH WHY do people leave their phones on ring? Sure enough, at the end of the first encore yesterday someone’s phone went off. (But hey, maybe that’s why he blessed us with a second encore?) But I won’t harp on this for too long. It is what it is. There will always, I suppose, be phones going off now and then. I guess we have to learn to deal. (Grumble, grumble, sigh.)

I am going to post some photos here of the weekend’s work; I realized that rarely do audience members get to see what our backstage looks like, or what we see from where we sit. Sadly I can’t put the ones up that I was most happy with, including photos of some of the Chinese instruments that were played, and the costumes worn by some of the singers. I’m so frustrated: I downloaded all my photos into iPhoto, and they proceeded to get corrupted or disappear all together. I’m still attempting to get them back, but I’m not sure it will be possible. Still, here are a few of our lovely backstage and my view from the stage.

And looking up …

… and now I have ten full days with no rehearsals or performances. What will I do with myself?

Oh … yeah:
Clean the house
Work on reeds
Teach students
Catch up on errands
Cook a real dinner (much as I dislike doing so!)

And maybe I’ll finally figure out where the photos are that I lost. I think some of them would have been quite nice. Sigh.

05. December 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: TQOD

Free coffee from my marching band director and oboe studio encouragement letter writing time? This day is awesome. #blessedbeyondmeasure

05. December 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Advent

Herbert Howells: A Spotless Rose
King’s College Cambridge

A Spotless Rose is blowing,
Sprung from a tender root,
Of ancient seers’ foreshowing,
Of Jesse promised fruit;
Its fairest bud unfolds to light
Amid the cold, cold winter,
And in the dark midnight.

The Rose which I am singing,
Whereof Isaiah said,
Is from its sweet root springing
In Mary, purest Maid;
For through God’s great love and might
The Blessed Babe she bare us
In a cold, cold winter’s night.

In case you’ve missed earlier Advent posts:
Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8