I’m home from the WindSync concert I had written about earlier. What fun it was. These musicians are pretty darn fine! I’m glad I was able to catch one of their three bay area events … they’ll be in San Francisco on Monday and in San Jose on Tuesday, in case you want to try and hear them. (The latter is, if I understood correctly, and improvisational sort of thing, done at an art gallery. I’m not sure if they are improvising on art they see there or what … maybe one of them will read this and fill us in!)

All five musicians were great: Garret Hudson on flute, Kevin Pearl on oboe, James Johnson (from San Jose!) on clarinet, Tracy Jacobson on bassoon and Anni Hochhalter on French horn. They have “chops”, as we like to say. They are musical. They move. Heck, they even talk. They played Beethoven (Ode to Joy arrangement), a movement of the Ibert WWQ, a movement of Maslanka’s third quintet, two movements of Opus Number Zoo by Berio, and ended with their arrangement of West Side Story, but called “WindSync Story” … and no one died at the end. How ’bout that? On the program the Beethoven wasn’t listed and instead it was Mozart’s Twinkle Twinkle variations, so during the question and answer period someone asked about that, and suggested we could all do with an encore so they then played the Mozart. It was all incredibly fun and delightful!

When I arrived at the hall I saw old friends and a current colleague (Hi Bob! Hi Pam! … and Hi to the Barnes although they haven’t a clue about this blog.) After, when I went to talk to the quintet members, I also met several people I’ve “met” via this blog. I LOVE when that happens! (Hi Vladimir! Hi Daniel! Hi David!) Having this blog has really blessed me with some wonderful “live and in person” meetings.

So bravi tutti to WindSync, and may your travels go well, your concerts be fantastic, and your audiences blessed as much as we were!

25. February 2011 · Comments Off on Congratulations, Karl! · Categories: Concerts, UCSC

I’m home from the UCSC Orchestra concert. Karl Spiker, a student of mine, performed the Mozart Oboe Concerto. He was fantastic! I’m so proud of him and how well he played. Bravo, Karl! (If anyone reading this is in the area you could hear it tomorrow night, as they are repeating the concert then. 7:30. Recital Hall. UCSC.)

(Sorry for the poor quality, but I was using the iPhone, didn’t think to zoom in, and obviously wasn’t using the flash, which probably wouldn’t have worked from that distance anyway.)

And Karl looked quite professional as well. But ‐ oh dear, oh dear ‐ women, if you are going to wear short dressed you really need to sit more carefully. Please!?

Chris Foley has a blog up about House Concerts.

I love the idea. Really. How cool would it be to play at someone’s house, get to know each other … really connect?!

But — yep, you knew I’d have a “but” right? — I have a feeling it would require someone much more organized than I. And getting my colleagues together for even the mandatory recital we have to do at UCSC every other year is a major challenge. I wonder how I could manage to pull something off like this. I’m also rather uncomfortable selling things. (When I made jewelry my dear daddy sold the stuff for me much of the time!)

Better yet, I wonder how someone else could pull this off and include me in the group! Yeah. That sounds like a huge improvement, doesn’t it? 🙂

We have a lot of wonderful homes in my area that are large enough to host a house concert. How cool would it be to walk to work … um, I mean play … well … work/play.

Here are some samples of House Concerts with classical musicians (it’s popular with other music as well):

And how about a “House Concert” on a street car? Hmmm. I guess some folks might feel as if they live on a street car, right?!

I don’t frequently get the honor (and yes, I mean honor) of attending a student’s concert. My schedule so often conflicts directly with students’ concerts that I rarely get there. Today would have been another of those days. I was originally scheduled to play a Symphony Silicon Valley concert. But plans change. Sometimes guest artists cancel. And sometimes that means a change in program. The change this week meant that I had a week off (with no pay, of course, but that’s how this biz works if you aren’t salaried). This was a time where I was actually very pleased to have been released; I could attend the California Youth Symphony concert, under the direction of a friend I haven’t seen in eons, Leo Eylar.

I have two students currently in the senior group there (Hi Vincent! Hi Timothy!). Timothy is playing English horn in the orchestra and they had DeFalla’s Three Dances from the Three Cornered Hat and Respighi’s Pines of Rome on the program. That’s a mighty fun English horn program! Also included was Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto (with a very talented 17 year old Palo Alto High School student, Stella Chen, as soloist) and Higdon’s wonderful Blue Cathedral.

I tell my students, “If you don’t go to hear other people play concerts, why do you think anyone would come to hear yours?” I try to encourage them to attend concerts. If I’m going to push that, I really need to practice what I preach, yes?

But mostly, it’s just a joy to go hear my students play. Timothy was wonderful on English horn. Vincent did a great job. Truly, the entire orchestra was so impressive. So I say a loud, “Bravi tutti,” to the group. I look forward to more!

26. August 2009 · Comments Off on This Weekend · Categories: Concerts, Links

I’m looking forward to some Mozart, a new work by Charles B. Griffin (a composer new to me), and Jon Nakamatsu at this weekend’s San Jose Chamber Orchestra’s concerts at Le Petite Trianon. I love the piano concerto, and I’m looking forward to playing principal; for once I don’t have to worry about all those low Cs in the second movement! (I played this many times with Midsummer Mozart years ago. Mozart can be tough for the second oboist!)

You can read a bit about the concerts here. Please note: that is not Mr. Nakamatsu’s picture. 😉

My first rehearsal is tonight. Now I’d better work on reeds ….

25. May 2009 · 8 comments · Categories: Concerts

Richard Scheinin has an article about the various summer classical music events in the area. As he writes, “This summer’s classical music and opera landscape is a little daunting. There’s too much to choose from, a nice dilemma, but we’ll need to get our bearings. So let’s draw a map and pushpin a few of the possibilities.”

And I have nary one job this summer.


“I personally tend to see the beauty in each of the various arts as being unique to each,” said Morgan. “So paintings do not usually suggest music to me. Nor does music suggest poetry. My aesthetics are more compartmentalized.”

I’m with Maestro Morgan. But it seems that people now talk about adding video or photography to concerts in order to keep people entertained. I do remember a woman saying her son’s reaction to a symphony concert was, “It was okay, but there was nothing to look at.”

Listening can be such a yawner, right?

Anyway, the work Maestro Morgan is conducting is by Dave and Chris Brubeck, and Sacramento Philharmonic will be playing it. (It was commissioned by six orchestras.)

You can read all about it here.

And speaking of Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, they have a YouTube page. I wish SSV would get something up and running like that. Of course we don’t have a music director, but what about a “get to know the guest conductor” or “get to know the musicians” type of thing. Hmmm. Just a thought.

From the YouTube link:

The most important thing to remember about contemporary music, well, two important things to remember. First of all, no one … no one likes everything and so you have permission to not like it. It could be that you don’t like it or you might like it, but you’re better going into the performance thinking well I’ll see if I like it. And then you decide at the end whether you like it or not.

It helps to have the composer present and we have pre-concert talks before each concert to talk about the piece of music and generally the composer’s there to explain what he or she was trying to do, so if you come an hour early and you see that pre-concert talk it gives you a much better idea what’s going to happen but even then the idea is that the composer tells you what he or she was trying to achieve and then you get to decide how successful they were.

The other thing about contemporary music that you need to remember is that every generation in terms of what’s great and what’s not, every generation got has gotten it wrong. All the time.

[…] Leave your mind open, see if you like it, and then later generations will decide whether it was great or not.

-Michael Morgan

And here you can hear the woodwind quintet playing (that’s Tom Nugent on oboe). I’m sure some of my students will recognize that music!

Okay, enough of me. I should be resting. The cough is a bit worse today, rather than better, and I do not want to cough my way through today’s matinee!

17. March 2009 · Comments Off on Kiddie Concerts · Categories: Concerts, English horn, Ramble, Symphony

I’m getting ready for the Symphony Silicon Valley back-to-back kiddie concerts today. We do them beginning at 10:00 … early for a musician, but probably perfect for them — because they get out of school! I remember loving to go anywhere if it meant getting out of school. This year’s program is about meter. We play works in 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Kinda cute, don’t you think? Funny that when you get to 8 it’s often 3+3+2 or some variation on that. But we aren’t getting that far, so that’s just an unnecessary sentence. Silly me.

Now to finish getting ready. Shoes — I need to wear shoes! — and get to the hall. I need to get in early so I can see how my pesky English horn reeds sound there (although I don’t play EH in these shows). Testing them at home doesn’t really give me the correct picture. I’m hoping to at least land two that feel good for New World and Roman Carnival next week. We’ll see.

07. March 2009 · Comments Off on Another Concert · Categories: Concerts, Links, Videos

… and I won’t be playing!

Tonight I’m attending a New Century Chamber Orchestra concert:

The NCCO is a conductorless string orchestra. (Perhaps they use winds as well in some concerts, but there are no wind members.) I’m looking forward to hearing them for the first time.

05. March 2009 · Comments Off on San Francisco Symphony · Categories: Concerts, Links, Symphony

I’m really looking forward to hearing the San Francisco Symphony concert that includes the Ravel Piano Concerto. It’s a sold out performance that features Martha Argerich. But of course I’m mostly focused on the wonderful English horn solo.

I hope that doesn’t surprise anyone. 😎

Many, many thanks to Louisa and Michelle. I owe you big time!