02. October 2012 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

I just want a nice working oboe that is made of wood. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!

02. October 2012 · Comments Off on The State of the Orchestra · Categories: Read Online

A word of caution to orchestra boards: While it may be true that the level of playing has never been higher among young graduates, there is an important gulf between technical mastery of an instrument and being a musician. If the Philadelphia Orchestra held auditions today for principal oboist – no, Richard Woodhams isn’t leaving – dozens could be found to play the notes in time, in tune, and with a reasonable feel for performance tradition.

How many would be able to match Woodhams’ charisma? Perhaps none. Multiply the potential loss if a dozen players departed, and what we would be left with is a generic “other” – something less than the Philadelphia Orchestra. We’ve lost a handful already. The integrity of the ensemble teeters on a fine edge.

This article is full of interesting items. This one above is so darn true. I hear young players and I’m blown away by their talent, but they don’t have the experience, and frequently there is still something missing. Time and experience are necessary to understand what is needed to make the “magic”. (It’s not really magic so much as hard work, talent, an understanding of line and timing … and more, of course.) Playing an amazing audition doesn’t mean one will play well with others, or play a solo well when on stage with a full house. We never know until we know how someone will work out.

What will it say about a country of 313 million if it can’t find a way for a little more than 2,000 musicians to make enough money to exist without moonlighting? The free-market system may or may not be wise, but it is so far deaf to this question.

I don’t “moonlight”, but of course I combine a bunch of things to make this life work for me. (And no, I’m not one of the “little more than 2,000 musicians” he is writing about.) Symphony. Opera. Chamber Music. UCSC. Private Studio. Ballet. Freelance. I love the variety, and I love my work. Even when I whine. Shoot, I whine well, so I guess I love to whine too! 😉

Anyway, read the article. It’s interesting. At least to me.


02. October 2012 · Comments Off on Inner-City Music · Categories: Read Online

An inner-city school where more than 50 languages are spoken has found a way to break down barriers — classical music.

Highbury Grove secondary is fast gaining a reputation as a hub for young orchestral talent, thanks to a mystery benefactor who has donated tens of thousands of pounds so some of the most deprived children in the country can learn to play an instrument.

The anonymous patron’s latest financial gift meant that yesterday all 210 pupils in year seven were handed a violin, cello or viola to keep while they are at the school.

It is planned that by September 2014 all students in years seven to nine — more than 600 — will be learning an instrument. Cherelle King, music administrator at the school, said: “Our benefactor doesn’t want his identity known.

Music can really transform these children. We have a lot of languages spoken and that can make life difficult in some situations, but we have found that music acts as a first language for everyone.

“Watching their faces when they got their instruments was fantastic. They are so engaged and excited.” The school, in the borough of Islington, follows the example of El Sistema in Venezuela, a project that gives the poorest children a chance to learn classical music.


Playing kiddie concerts right now, I understand the joy music can bring kids. Making music is even better!