29. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Other People's Words

Ah, Joyce DiDonato, you once again nail it! (Do read the whole thing … it’s so very worth it.)

May I admit that this made me cry? Yes. I may. And I will.

This. Made. Me. Cry.

I need to remember … we all can remember …

You will never make it.
The work will never end.
It’s not about you.
The world needs you.

You … are now servants to the ear that needs quiet solace, and the eye that needs the consolation of beauty, servants to the mind that needs desperate repose or pointed inquiry, to the heart that needs invitation to flight or silent understanding, and to the soul that needs safe landing, or fearless, relentless enlightenment. You are a servant to the sick one who needs healing through the beauty and peace of the symphony you will compose through blood-shot eyes and sleepless nights. You are an attendant to the lost one who needs saving through the comforting, probing words you will conjure up from the ether, as well as from your own heroic moments of strife and triumph. You are a steward to the closed and blocked one who needs to feel that vital, electric, joyful pulse of life that eludes them as they witness you stop time as you pirouette and jettè across the stage on your tired legs and bleeding toes. You are a vessel to the angry and confused one who needs a protected place to release their rage as they watch your eyes on the screen silently weep in pain as you relive your own private hell. You are a servant to the eager, naïve, optimistic ones who will come behind you with wide eyes and wild dreams, reminding you of yourself, as you teach and shape and mold them, even though you may be plagued with haunting doubts yourself, just as your teachers likely were – and you will reach out to them and generously invite them to soar and thrive, because we are called to share this thing called Art.

06. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Other People's Words

“It’s supposed to be fun. The man says ‘play ball’ not ‘work ball’ you know.”

-Willie Stargell

And I play oboe, not work oboe, as Dan just reminded me.

Clearly he’s never tackled the oboe!

06. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Other People's Words

Conductor Kenneth Woods has a very frank post about lighting issues — as well as temperature issues — on his blog. Yes, indeed, he is so right! I don’t complain here any more &mdash or at least not too much (I hope!) — about issues with temperature and lighting. Sometimes I get in trouble if I whine on my blog because people do read it and they will confront me if they think I’ve said anything that might reflect poorly upon them or the particular company I’m grumping about. I’m very slowly learning to be careful and maybe even a little bit kind. It if isn’t kind, why write it, right? And, truth be told, mostly things are done pretty well where I work. Things that aren’t done well seem impossible to change in any case, so what’s the point of complaining? It would be like whining about my bad reed making skills.

Oh. Wait. I do whine about that. Forget that comparison!

But read his post. It appears he’d finally had enough and decided it was time to state his case.

17. September 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Opera, Other People's Words

The following is just the very end of a Mercury News article you might want to check out.

Q Will you underwrite another production for the company?
A You probably have no idea how much stress goes into producing an opera. There’s one crisis after another. I don’t rule out doing something else, but you have to think of what you can do to make a contribution.
I didn’t want to do this just to do it. I wanted to do it because I saw a way of doing a really good job of it. My motives in doing it were the real joy in seeing something like this done well, and all the people who participate in it — they love it! So I’m glad that I was in a position that I could do it. Sometimes you need to have a crazy person around to do things.
Do you know Satyajit Ray’s film, “The Music Room”? It’s about an old guy who wants to put on a really beautiful music concert. He wants to get all the best musicians. The world is collapsing around him; the modern world has caught up with him. And he wants to do one glorious gesture just to show that beauty still exists in the world, so he can go out in a burst of glory. Sometimes I feel like the crazy guy in that movie.

I’m very thankful to be doing the opera. So many many thanks, Mr. Packard!

15. September 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Opera, Other People's Words

(Please excuse the all caps, but that’s how it was posted and I’m too lazy to change it.):

I HAVE SEEN IDOMENEO THREE TIMES, FIRST WITH LUCIANO IN CHICAGO, THEN WITH LUCIANO IN SAN FRANCISCO, BUT THE MOST THRILLING OF THE THREE WAS TUESDAY NIGHT AT OPERA SAN JOSE. CHRISTOPHER BENGOCHEA BOTH SANG AND ACTED THIS DIFFICULT R0LE WITH BEAUTIFUL EXPRESSIVE SOUNDS THAT SHOWED HIM AS A MAJOR TENOR VOICE OF OUR TIME. HE WAS SUPPORTED BY AN OUTSTANDING CAST, REBECCA DAVIS AS ILIA, CHRISTINA MAJOR AS ELETTRA, NOVA SAFO AS ARBACE, AARON BLAKE AS IDAMANTE, AND MATHEW EDWARDSEN AS THE HIGH PRIEST. THE ENTIRE CAST WAS SO SPLENDID THAT THE BEAUTIFUL SETS, COSTUMES, CHORUS AND ORCHESTRA MADE THIS AN EVENING TO REMEMBER FOR OPERA LOVERS. I FLOATED HOME AND THE NEXT DAY BOUGHT TICKETS TO GO AGAIN. FOR THOSE OF US WHO LOVE OPERA, THIS IDOMENEO WAS PURE “OPERA MAGIC!”

Written by Eloise Bouye, here.

Nice! :-)

In case you don’t already know, I’m a huge fan of Albrecht Mayer. I have this feeling he could play absolutely anything on oboe (or d’amore or English horn) and I’d be in heaven!

I just purchased the “Voices of Bach” recording. You might want to as well! (I got mine through iTunes, but I’m sure it’s available elsewhere.)

If we believe that behind the universe there is a Creator who instills order, must we accept our destiny, whatever it brings? Does this make us believers or fatalists? They are fascinating questions, which in Western art find their closest expression in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

-Albrecht Mayer

(Quote found here.)

18. July 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Other People's Words

I just received this:

Pianist Leon Fleisher on the PBS NEWSHOUR

Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown’s interview with legendary pianist Leon Fleisher will air on the PBS NEWSHOUR tonight (Monday, July 18). Fleisher sat down with Brown to talk about his life’s work in music, his struggle with an ailment that prevented him from playing with both of his hands, and his recent book ‘My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music.’

Listening is the great secret….If you don’t hear before you play, what you play is an accident….You have to hear in your inner ear your goal, your ideal, what you want it to sound like.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

12. July 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Other People's Words

Louisville, as I write, is emerging from bankruptcy protection. Syracuse, which I visited in deep doldrums last winter, is trying to form a new part-time orchestra. The sacked musicians of Rio have regrouped as an independent ensemble. You can shut a theatre but you cannot keep a good orchestra down. There will always be an audience for what it has to offer.

And why is that? Because in a lifestyle of wall-to-wall wi-fi and instant tweets, the concert hall is one of the few places where we become reachable, where we can switch off our lifelines and surrender to a form that will not let us go for an hour or more. The symphony orchestra is our relief from the communicative addiction. It forces us, willy-nilly, to resist the responsive urge. It is a cold-turkey cure for our reactive insanity, our self-destroying restlessness.The more concerts I attend, the more I see how they restore balance to over-busy lives. It may well be that we, as a society, need the symphony orchestra now more than ever before. How we pay for it will have to be reconfigured over the next two or three difficult years, amid challenges from rival art forms and digital distractions. There has never been such heated competition for every nanosecond of our supposed leisure time.

But after 30 years’ close observation of orchestral ups and downs and half a century after the Arts Council pronounced that London needed just one super-orchestra, I have reached the irreversible conclusion that the symphony orchestra will always survive — not on the weary old argument that it is somehow “good for you” to listen to “good music”, nor on any cod theories that classical music breeds clever kids and better citizens, but simply because there is a cogent human need for what an orchestra adds to the relief of city life. That need becomes ever clearer as the world speeds up.

-Norman Lebrecht

RTWT

Update … okay, sometimes I do funny typos. I just corrected “Norman”, as I had typed it “Normal”! Yes, that made me laugh. At myself.

23. June 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Other People's Words

Read online:

I’m not here to go to concerts. This is my vacation. When I am here I am not working. Although I may be preparing for an upcoming performance, I’m here to enjoy the beach and time with my wife and family.

-David Zinman

RTWT

I suppose if I were a well known conductor and I did music as much as Zinman probably does I might not want to go to concerts while on a holiday, but I actually love to go to concerts. It’s really a joy, and I look forward to the day when I’m no longer performing at all, but just enjoying.

Well. Sort of anyway!

Here’s another part of the interview with the conductor:

Making classical music appeal to the masses without compromising artistic integrity is a challenge of which Zinman is well aware.

“It all begins with education,” Zinman said. “As a young person, if you play baseball, you’ll tend to want to go see a professional baseball game. And if you play in a school orchestra or band you’ll want to go hear the professionals play. We all want to emulate our heroes. Sadly, if a school budget has to be cut and you have a football team and an arts program, guess which program gets cut.”

With many recent crossover artists such as tenor Andrea Bocelli, whose wide appeal has clouded the line between classical and popular music, Zinman once again cites the lack of education as the problem.

“Making classical music popular really works against it,” Zinman said. “Classical music has to do with the emotions and the soul.”

Tim Mangan’s discussion about us performerfolk™ and reviewers continues (so far in a very polite manner, which makes me quite happy; this is how conversations — even disagreements — should take place, don’t you think?). But really now, I know there are readers here, and while many remain silent (Tim, I get VERY few comments here as well!), I know some of you could at least show up on his blog so he would get musicians’ responses. Please? Because I don’t count! ;-) (Just kidding with Tim. Really! But I’ll have you know I count VERY well; rhythm is something I have in me. I think.) Okay … done with the bad jokes … but honestly … maybe THIS will get you to go over there for a visit?:

Professional musicians don’t care two hoots (ha) about music criticism. We have yet to receive a comment from one on this post other than our old friend MarK (patty doesn’t count — she’s a blogger), despite hundreds of readers and an open invitation to do so.