Ananias Davisson: Idumea, arr. Bjella (Text by Charles Wesley)
Millikin University Choir; Brad Holmes, Conductor

Bob Chilcott: God So Loved The World
Missisippi College Singers; Dr. Mark Nabholz, Conductor

Franz Schubert – Nacht und Träume, arr. Sylvia Maessen
Tenor Seil Kim; Sinfonia Rotterdam; Conrad van Alphen, Conductor

Holy night, you sink down;
The dreams flow down, too,
Like your moonlight through the rooms,
Through the people’s silent chests.
They listen softly with desire;
They call, when day awakens:
Come back, holy night!
Sweet dreams, come back!

I was chatting (well, texting really) with a friend about a work I’ve never gotten to play. He was working on it for an upcoming concert, and I admitted to being a wee bit envious. It’s not a work that is frequently performed — or at least not in any groups I’m connected to — so it is highly unlikely I’ll ever get to do it. The work touches my heart in ways not all music does. I’m sorry I don’t get to do it, but I am very glad Ryan is getting to play it, as he’s a good musician and a good guy as well.

Barber: Knoxville, Summer of 1915 • Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra; Maria Valdes, soprano

Then there are works I absolutely adore, and have played, but would prefer not to do again: this particular work is one of the most exquisite of compositions, but is a killer (as far as I’m concerned) for English horn. It’s one I’d love to see programmed … on a concert I’d attend! I’d happily sit in the audience and wrap myself up in the beauty of this piece.

LUCERNE FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA | Claudio Abbado | Magdalena Kožena (mezzo-soprano)

I believe I’ve shared both of these YouTube videos in the past, but they are well worth another listen.

It’s strange to be at an age where I know that some works won’t pop back up while I’m still around. Sure, some are bound to get done again and again — and I’m not quitting yet! — but some? Some are done maybe every ten years if that. It is highly unlikely I will playing my instruments when I’m 71. That is not in the plans. I will never stop listening to music (I hope!) but I will not always be on the stage or in the pit.

Besides, there are plenty of young’uns chomping at the bit for my chairs!

Timothy Sharp: O Gracious Light
Musica Sacra; Dr. Timothy Sharp, Guest Conductor

Come, Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing, arr. Wilberg
ECU Chamber Singers; Dr. James Franklin, Conductor; Andrew Scanlon, Organ

These musicians of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra look so joyous as they play. I love it!

Edvard Grieg: Holberg Suite, Op. 40, Praeludium

I have avoided writing about the horrendous news we’ve heard in the arts — and in particular music, since that’s my area — industry recently, and I won’t name names here now either. If you’ve seen the news, you know it’s going on. Some of the news has been rather explicit. Some not. No matter what it’s all very very ugly.

But I’m not here to write about the people who are now under investigation or already fired from jobs. I don’t want to go there. I hope the truth can be found. I hope that the guilty are punished. But now I want to write about being safe. So many young people are heading off to college (if they aren’t there already). Some will face the dangers of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. I’m hoping there will be less of this now. I’m hoping that with the #metoo movement people in power will think twice. I’m hoping. BUT …

Be careful students. Please please please be careful. And please know you do not have to “sleep” your way to the top, or to a position in an orchestra, or even to become someone’s private student. If someone suggests that, report it. If you are harassed, report it. If you are assaulted, report it. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to report these things, but if it’s to be stopped it must be reported as quickly as possible.

I was thinking about how one can stop this behavior, especially in the music field when students have private lessons with instructors. I wonder if schools would ever consider having windows on every room. What if every instructor and professor could be seen in his or her office at all times? I know many would argue that they have lost their privacy, but after all I’ve heard and read I honestly don’t care. The safety of students is of utmost importance. In addition, with windows, a teacher couldn’t be falsely accused either. Everything seen. Everyone out in the open.

It’s just a thought.

But meanwhile … to all the students, to all the performers … and, really, to ALL … be careful. Be cautious. Stay safe. Make sure it doesn’t end up being #youtoo. Please.

Harold Smoliar, 61, retired this year as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s English horn player. He’s been with the PSO since 1979. He’ll continue to play jazz piano on his own and with other local jazz musicians.

“In the last few years I’ve had to practice more and more,” he said. “The effort to be fresh was a constant drain. Sure there are some physical issues now, but it’s actually mostly mental for me. It was time.”

Hm. I’m 61 as well. Interesting.

RTWT

Something we musicians wonder about much of the time when we are older is, “Is it time for me to leave?” We don’t want to leave too early, but we most definitely also don’t want to leave too late.

Our fingers can slow down. Our tongues might not move as quickly. It can be difficult to play the longer phrases. We might be slower to recover from errors, too.

And yet there are things now that I do better than I did when I was younger. I think I’m more natural in my playing. My expression just feels right … at least most of the time.

But I still get nervous. I thought that would end. It didn’t. It’s a different kind of nervousness, and it isn’t so bad I’m unhappy. It just “is” and it’s a part of the job.

But …

I want to leave before everyone is whispering, “When WILL she finally quit?” No one wants that.

Francisco Guerrero; Pan Divino y Gracioso (Divine bread of grace)
Vox Gaudiosa; Ko Matsushita, Conductor