So … now that I’ve sort of recovered from the socializing and from teaching my two students (the third canceled and these two forgot to pay … hmmm. Not the most stellar teaching day!), I’ll blog more a bit about what I heard this morning.

Three woodwind soloists from the orchestra will be playing. I already mentioned Russ deLuna will be playing in Copland’s Quiet City. Bassoonist Stephen Paulson will be playing Ciranda des sete notas by Villa-Lobos. Should I bravely mention I don’t know this work at all? No. I think I’ll not tell you that. I would probably be embarrassed if I did. Carey Bell will be soloing on Debussy’s Première Rapsoide for clarinet. All three of these works are ones I’d be very interested in hearing. From one bassoonist’s reaction (Hi, Imani!), the Villa-Lobos is a must hear for bassoonists. MTT mentioned that they want to feature more orchestra members in solo roles in the coming years.

They are doing two new commissions. One is by Avner Dorman (Who? Geesh … I’m feeling like an idiot here! But I’m not going to tell you I don’t know his name. Nope.), called Uriah. David Robertson will be conducting that concert (it also includes some Dukas and Prokofiev). We were told that it was originally going to have “The man the king wanted dead” as the title (or was it attached to the the title?) but that has been nixed. The other commission is Rufus Wainwright’s Five Shakespeare Sonnets which, if I’m understanding correctly, was originally to be done this year. Jeffrey Kahane will conduct the Wainwright set, and the concert also includes the Ravel G major piano concerto (best English horn solo ever) and Weill’s second symphony (which again I will not admit that I don’t know. At all.). By the way, I do know who Wainwright is. So there.

The Mahler recording project that they started in 2001 will be completed this year. Songs for Orchestra will feature my absolute favorite, Rückert Lieder (another best English horn solo ever), with Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson on Songs of a Wayfarer. We were told that 2011 is the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death. MTT wittily mentioned something like (and pardon me if I’m slightly off with the quote) “it’s the 137th anniversary of his Bar Mitzvah. News you can use. 😉

But what’s next? Since they are finishing up with Mahler, is there something else in store? Sounds like that’s a big “yes”. But we weren’t told just what, yet. Hmmm. Should we guess? Maybe. Maybe not. I might guess American. I might guess Ives. But I might be wrong. So I probably won’t guess. Yet.

Oh … and speaking of Mahler … the third season of Keeping Score will be about him, and I’ll definitely want that! We saw a small portion of it. It wouldn’t have even taken that to sell me on it, but it looked wonderful.

Okay. Enough of me rambling on and on.

Season Highlights
SF Symphony’s 2010-11 season (pdf)

… so I won’t put it all here right now. Stay tuned!

I’m sitting at Arlequin Café, having a wonderful, “comfort bowl” of oatmeal, with warm milk and apricots. I need it. I loved being a the press conference for San Francisco Symphony’s 2010-2011 season announcement, but now I need to decompress. I’m ridiculously hermit-like. I love meeting other bloggers (Hi Opera Tattler and Not For Fun Only!), but going outside of my little comfort zone tends to make me a bit fried after. How incredibly silly IS that, anyway? And why is someone who can sit on stage in front of an audience be such a basket case like I am? Hmmm. Maybe it’s just double reed neurosis? Or maybe it’s merely yours (in her private little cave) truly. 😉

Soooo … it was a blast being at the announcement. I was sort of like a giddy little girl, feeling like I was pretending to be an adult. Or maybe like I was an unknown oboist, sitting in the midst of people of importance. Yeah. Kind of both.

The season looks pretty darn exciting. For the Project San Francisco (composer & artist in residency program) we’ll be seeing and hearing from John Adams and Yuja Wang. El Niño is on the schedule (concert version: December 2-4), as is Harmonielehre (December 8-11), along with a December 12 chamber music series featuring Adams music. Yuja Wang will be part of the chamber music series on June 14, and perform the Bartók second piano concerto (June 16-19) as well as present what looks to be a solo recital (June 21).

MTT was very fun to listen to. He’s quite personable and I really enjoyed him. I’d seen him, of course, on video, and I’ve heard him speak from the stage. This just felt more … well … comfortable. Like my oatmeal or something. (Uh-oh … did I just compare MTT to a bowl of oatmeal. How naughty of me!) I took notes (with a bright pink highlighter pen because I forgot anything else, which was about as unprofessional as I could look, don’t you think?). Sadly I didn’t take pictures because of course I was charging my camera battery and it’s all sitting at home, ready for me to put in my bag. (Grrr.) Yes. I’m not a real journalist, and I’ve proved it in nearly every way I could. (But can a real journalist make an oboe read? Huh?)

I’d write more, but I need to enjoy this oatmeal, and my body is having a bit of a bad “DizzyDay™” so I’d better step away from the computer for a while.

25. January 2010 · Comments Off on MTT Uses Dr. Beat! · Categories: MTT

Well check this out … MTT demonstrating his practicing with Dr. Beat. Hoorah, hoorah! (He also tells a story about breaking his wrist and playing the Piano Concerto … amazing!)

See, students, it never stops. Really!

05. March 2009 · Comments Off on Wow! · Categories: Links, MTT, Ramble, Symphony

I’m just home from the San Francisco Symphony concert. I know they say it’s sold out, but maybe they get turn backs … it’s sure worth a try! Martha Argerich is really incredible. Her second movement just had me mesmerized. The Ravel Piano Concerto really is such a great work. (Rumor has it we may be doing it again down here, but I haven’t received anything official yet.) The Ligeti was amazing and powerful, and also quite painful in a Requiem appropriate kind of way. NOT easy listening, but truly worth a serious listen. I’d encourage you to attempt to get to this concert aside from the sold out part. Hmmm. Stand at their door and yell that you have to get in, maybe? Cry? Beg? 🙂

As you know, I don’t review here. I just enjoy concerts and let you know what I enjoyed. But I do sometimes make a few comments. Here goes …

Audience: Funny comment of the night was when MTT walked out for the Ligeti. An audience member nearby said, “Uh-oh. He’s gonna talk.” And he did talk. Funny thing was, I was so distracted by the audience member I forgot to listen to what he said, so Dan had to fill me in later. Silly me!

Choir: The men all wear tuxes. The women wear whatever they like and some looked … well … less that stellar. I’ve felt this way for a while now: Men have to look so uniform and put together and we women get to decide what looks good. And some women don’t know what looks good. Maybe it’s time to step it up a notch. OR let the men dress down, perhaps. I wonder.

I had blogged two (?) concerts ago about a very distracting first violinist. I noticed that he wasn’t playing last week’s concert or this one. Perhaps he was a sub and hasn’t been called back.

Why, when a blonde singer and a brunette singer come out, do I just assume the blonde will be the soprano? And yes, I was right. (Man, the notes they have to nail in the Ligeti … astounding! Brava to both of them!)

So Dan and I had a great time, loved the concert, and Louisa (hope you read this), you are SO wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Gotta get to bed; I have an early wake up time and long day ahead of me.

… okay … whew! … it’s a busy day when I teach four hour lessons in a row. Okay, I DO have 15 minutes between the first and second students, but still ….

I’m now, at 2:46, enjoying my lunch & latté. And yes, I’m at “my” coffee shop again. (The Abbey in Santa Cruz.) I’m a person who likes the predictable, and this is it for me. Nice coffee, and good atmosphere. 🙂

So … just a wee bit about the San Francisco Symphony concert last night. As readers know, I don’t review things. I mostly just comment a wee bit about the performance.

I had never heard Prokofiev’s American Overture before. I, in fact, knew nothing about it. When I went to emusic I only saw a band arrangement of the work. When we got to the hall I didn’t read the program notes, so I was surprised to see so few people warming up on stage, not realizing there would be all of 18 players there when the concert began. And there were no violins for the entire first half. (Ah, a violinist’s dream, maybe?) I enjoyed the Prokofiev although I can’t say I was thrilled. I was fairly surprised at how loud the 18 musicians were from up on the heights of the second tier, and it did sound a bit muddy (oops, that’s sort of review-like, isn’t it?). Let’s see if I can remember who it was scored for: flute, pic, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, cello, string bass, 2 pianos, 1 celeste, percussion. Am I getting this correct, Dan? I’m sorry I can’t remember how many of each instrument, aside from knowing there was only 1 oboe, 2 string bass and the 2 pianists, each with their own instrument. Anyway, interesting piece, but I wasn’t exactly dying to run out and purchase it.

When I think about the Gubaidulina Violin Concerto I really must say two things come to mind, one of which is pretty darn silly but oh well: 1) Fabulous dress on Mutter! 2) I don’t quite get the piece. I think Dan said he couldn’t wrap his head around it (?) to which I would agree. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure why, aside from really loving the way she scores the winds at times. The four clarinets playing together sounded pretty cool. (No, “cool” isn’t a word a reviewer would use. See? I’m NOT a reviewer!) Anyway, maybe I’ll hear the work again sometime and understand it a bit more. Knowing my brain though, probably not.

After intermission the violins finally decided to show up. (Maybe they just wanted to watch American Idol during the first half?) We finally had the full orchestra, minus Bill Bennett, Steve Paulson, Carey Bell and a ladder (the percussionist used to reach the chimes). Well, the ladder was still there, but just leaned against the wall. (I was surprised they didn’t take it off stage. Yeah, I’m silly that way.) There may have been other members of SFS who left after the first half, but of course I mainly pay attention to the woodwinds. (Yeah, I’m silly that way, too.)

I love Ravel. I love how he sort of twists things. But for some reason I wasn’t as excited about the two works last night. I think it might have been the headache I had for several days (it’s finally gone today!). But still, they were well worth the listen.

Now while I’m not going to review the concert, I WILL review the audience. Geesh! The MINUTE La Valse was over people even — and it seemed especially ‐ in the front rows of the orchestra section got up and left. I mean … MTT is taking a bow and people are filing out. I’ve never seen such a rush to get out the door before. I have never seen anything quite like that in San Jose. Dan and I were astounded. I can see people sneaking out from the balcony or even the back of an orchestra section, but right in front? I thought it looked tacky and rude. I kind of thought maybe the front row of strings should just look out, shrug, and head on out too. And yet we were in “The City” with all those cultured people. Go figure.

20. January 2009 · Comments Off on Tan Dun’s Eroica · Categories: MTT, Videos

I can’t say I’m blown away by either version. There’s something sort of “high school marching band playing movie music” about it to me. But what do I know?


Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra:

Here’s MTT talking about the YTSO:

My guess is — call my cynical — that everyone in the orchestra will be young or at least youngish. It is, after all, about the youtube folks, and looks matter. But then perhaps I’ll be proven wrong and a bunch of over 50 folks will audition. Ya think?

And no, I’m not auditioning. I’d love it if they wanted to bring along a few guest bloggers … now THAT would be fun! 🙂

(I don’t see a single oboe or English horn when I click on “view” … so maybe no one is auditioning for those spots? Hmmm. Any readers/reeders out there going for this?

15. December 2008 · Comments Off on Read Online · Categories: MTT, Read Online

MTT attracts tourist dollars, especially for his festivals. He is the education conductor, who has used his SF Symphony resources to make important television and fabulous radio programs about classical music.

The question, though, is not how much MTT is worth but how many millions might it cost San Francisco to once more promote itself as a sophisticate city if a Philistine supervisor actually has his way?

And how about those Yankees? Left-hander C.C. Sabathia just signed a seven-year contract for 100 times MTT’s $1.6 million. Now, that’s real money. It even includes a million bucks in pocket change.

— Mark Swed

Found here.

(Disclaimer: I don’t necessarily agree with quotes placed here. Don’t necessarily disagree either. You figure it out!)

20. November 2008 · Comments Off on Another “Best” List · Categories: Announcements, MTT

MTT has been named one of America’s best leaders. Along with Lance Armstrong, who received top billing here.

Here is an article that does feature Michael Tilson Thomas. In case you’re interested.

Business Conductor

The city needs to stop subsidizing the S.F. Symphony and other snobby arts organizations that cater to the rich.

I get the feeling the guy who wrote the article doesn’t really care for MTT. I’m gonna guess, too, that his salary is a bit lower. Ya think?

If you are in the Bay Area, are you tuned in to KQED? San Francisco Symphony is on. You might enjoy it!

Running commentary … but only for a while …
Bill Bennett sure plays with the oboe nearly straight down. I’m not sure I could play that way.
I wish they’d stick on some players longer.
Ah … “There’s a place for us” with that fabulous oboe countermelody. Gotta love it.
I’m a real sucker for West Side Story, to be honest.
C’mon … show the English horn!
(tiny oops … probably not noticeable to most anyone)
(I always hate yelling out “Mambo”.)
Man, they are a good “band”!

But am I going to be able to stay up for the whole thing? After getting home so late last night I’m just not sure. Sigh.

Ah, MTT is talking to the audience. I didn’t know that he’d be doing that, having not read any reviews of this performance. He’s educating the audience. Interesting. 🙂

Well, I’ll listen more … but not more blogging. Dawn Upshaw, one of my faves, is coming on.