It’s impossible to ignore all the news about sexual harassment in the movie industry. It’s impossible to ignore it in the world of politics as well. And schools. Don’t forget the schools … and the reprehensible behavior of teachers who abuse their students. But of course it happens everywhere, and I think everyone knows that.

The “#metoo” movement started a fire. Women have been telling their stories. Women have been naming names. And men are also telling stories of abuse, because it is not something that women alone have endured, although I dare to state that women have endured it far more frequently.

Does it happen in the classical music world? Oh you bet it does. There are people in power that have taken advantage of their positions. There are people who want jobs so badly they will acquiesce to advances. And yes, there are some who will offer themselves in order to advance. I’m grateful to have avoided the damaging sexual abuse that some have endured, but I certainly have had improper advances in the past. Fortunately those are now in my distant past and no, I won’t name names at this point. (Had I been physically assaulted I do believe I would, especially if the perpetrator(s) have continued assaults. Heck, I might even if they haven’t continued.)

Names have been out there for eons … so-and-so isn’t to be trusted. Maestro X is a sexual predator. Be very careful around [insert name here] and never be in a room alone with him. Keep your boys away from that guy! So far it appears most of these people aren’t being named. Some won’t name names: they still work with the person and fear for their jobs. Some don’t think it’s the right thing to do: they think that it’s just a part of our world and so be it. Others say we shouldn’t “out” someone because, well, how disappointed will the public be to learn their idol is a sexual predator? (Um. Really?!) Most of us don’t name names because, for us, it’s a rumor that has gone around for decades and a rumor is a rumor — we don’t know that it’s true, even while we might suspect it is. We dare not say the names, though, as there is always that possibility some slighted or vengeful person started the rumor to damage the person’s career. It’s tricky, to say the least.

IF some of the rumors are true, though, there are people who should have been jailed long ago. And that’s incredibly troubling.

Again, I don’t have first-hand experience. Naming names in my case would be wrong. I’d only be naming a rumor.

But then there’s the difficulty of the spoken word. The sexual innuendo in the workplace seems to run rampant. The mutterings I hear during rehearsals are annoying. The loudly spoken words by a player or conductor that then most people laugh at are, to me, inexcusable. I’ve had colleagues say things to my face that make me shudder to think about. Honestly? You say that to me as if it’s normal conversation?! It’s the start of the “all of it” to me … if speaking those words is funny or cute and fully acceptable, I do believe it can lead to more. In any case, it is offensive.

I am hopeful that, with all that has now been revealed, we will stop tolerating these often juvenile and usually blatantly sexual and offensive remarks in the workplace. I’m hopeful that we will all think more carefully about what we say and how it might come across to others.

Purcell: Remember not, Lord, our Offences
Ensemble ZENE; Bruno Kele-Baujard, Director

William Byrd: Ave Verum Corpus
Ensemble ZENE; Bruno Kele-Baujard, Director

Opera San José‘s production of La Rondine opens tomorrow night. Have tickets?

I had mentioned I’d write about the phone issue a while ago. Now that it’s raining and my walk is being delayed I’ll jump in with the story.

Dan and I were attending a San Francisco Symphony concert a few weeks back. What a bizarre concert it was! The performance began with Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima and even over fifty years later someone has to yell “Stop” or some such then, and then go on asking “Why are you doing this?” Really? But oh well … she wanted to ruin things for everyone else, I guess. I wish she’d have stayed home.

But then things went from bad to worse. At least for me.

At one point phones started going off. Mostly vibrating, but we can hear that! It was quite aggravating. And it happened more than once.

I know people think “Turn your phones off,” means “If you think of it and are considerate perhaps you could at least put your phone on vibrate” or some such thing. Trust me, vibrate isn’t silent! Turn the darn things off. Or at least do airplane mode.

Turned out that there was an Amber alert. Those things can be quite jarring! I actually deactivated those alerts completely a while back, after being scared to death by the blaring sound it made the first time. If I’m in a concert I’m not able to do anything anyway. The same goes for any emergency. It’s not like I can say, “Oh sorry folks, I’m going to skip playing the rest of the opera because I see an alert here.” Nope. It can wait the few hours it needs to wait.

In the second half ANOTHER phone went off. It wasn’t an Amber alert. It was just an “I’m a very annoying concert goer and I left my phone on,” alert. Sigh.

Second story (although I’ve since fixed this issue):
I was teaching and when I do that my phone is used as a clock. It’s on silent so I won’t hear a ring and I have vibrate deactivated as well. As I was teaching one day I was singing (my poor students occasionally have to hear me do that!) and suddenly Siri pipes in and starts to answer a question. I had NOT pushed the button to activate her. I had NOT said, “Hey Siri…” But she thought I had, as you can see by what appeared on my phone:

Yep, she thought I asked, “what Summer that is” … whatever that means.

I learned that one needs to deactivate the voice-activated “Hey Siri” option. Done. I can continue to use the phone as a clock (aimed in a way so that students can’t see … I’m mean that way.)

Still, for concerts, I highly recommend you turn your phones off. Other audience members will thank you, as will the performers.

I’ve been told by a reliable source that this really is a mess.

Just a portion of the article:

The committee were placed behind a screen but allowed access to their cell phones and tablets which they were allowed to receive texts from auditioning people to notify them who was playing. Committee members were seen peering behind the screen as well as asking auditioning musicians to come and speak with the committee behind the curtain. The audition was a sham and once the votes had been tallied, the music director tailored or changed the results to fit his liking. There were no brass or percussion players were allowed to be on the panel even though full brass sections and percussion and timpani players were heard in the audition process. The result was a completely different orchestra with approximately 7 principal positions changing hands as well as Thai musicians losing their jobs that had been working in the orchestra for 12 years. If a new foreign candidate was selected to join the orchestra, the orchestra demanded them to give confirmation and move to Thailand within 2 weeks of the audition results.


I’m grateful for our union. Truly grateful.

Le OFF présente Les Vieux Beaux

From the YouTube page:

Jean Françaix, the composer that bears a name that undiscutably evokes the camembert and the baguette, leaves behind music tinted with humour and freshness.
There couldn’t be a better set than the bistrot next door to present you “L’heure du Berger”, some brasserie music (and a hymn to the famous Pastis!) that he composed in 1947 that stages with mockery the different protagonistes he observes from the terrace.
A little caricature doesn’t hurt so let’s tease “Les vieux beaux”, this fascinating category of worn males, subtly casanova and discreetly narcissistic.
We leave you to meditate on this burning hot news topic, because, let’s not forget: the Orchestre de Paris has reached its fifties, can you believe it!

When I saw Ariel the first time, it was like a dare,” she added, referring to the “Tempest” score. “And this is a double-dog dare.

—Audrey Luna

Read here.

Both Symphony Silicon Valley and Opera San Jose are doing Deutscher compositions. Last night 60 minutes did a segment on the young artist. Today I’ve read that our concerts are sold out. If more performances are added I’ll let you know.


Even more:

Pierre Calmelet: Alleluia
Kamerinis Choras Aidija; Romualdas Grazinis, Director