09. December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: News, San Francisco Symphony


SAN FRANCISCO, CA – December 8, 2014 – Eugene Izotov has been appointed Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), beginning with the 2015-16 season. Izotov is currently Principal Oboe of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since 2006. He previously served as Principal Oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and as Associate Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Symphony from 1996-2003. Izotov succeeds the late William Bennett as Principal Oboe of the San Francisco Symphony.

“I am delighted to be joining the San Francisco Symphony as Principal Oboe,” said Izotov. “This is a deeply personal decision for me since much of my life is connected to these two great American orchestras and cities. As I look forward to making music with maestro Michael Tilson Thomas and my colleagues of the San Francisco Symphony, I know my heart will be filled with wonderful memories of music-making with Chicago Symphony and profound gratitude to maestro Riccardo Muti for his humanity, support, and inspiration.”


12. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Read Online, San Francisco Symphony

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is paying up after losing a wager with its counterpart in San Francisco on the outcome of the World Series.

Detroit music director Leonard Slatkin is expected to present San Francisco Symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas with coffee, coffee cake, Zzang! bars and Vernors ginger ale during intermission of today’s Live from Orchestra Hall webcast.

The Detroit Symphony had banked on the hometown Tigers defeating the San Francisco Giants. But the Giants spoiled it by sweeping Detroit in four games.

Tilson Thomas had vowed to wear a Detroit Symphony cap during rehearsals for an Asian tour if the Giants lost. Slatkin’s wager was to wear a San Francisco Symphony baseball cap.

He did Wednesday during a rehearsal in Detroit.

I read it here. There was no photo with Slatkin wearing the cap. :-(

Just a few numbers for you, from a performance elsewhere (but hey, Blomstedt did conduct San Francisco Symphony some time ago, right?):

Herbert Blomstedt, Gewandhausorchester & Kammerchor Leipzig
Ruth Ziesak, soprano
Anna Larsson, alto
Christoph Genz, tenor
Dietrich Henschel, bass

10. Qui sedes ad dextram Patris

24. March 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: San Francisco Symphony

Thank you, San Francisco Symphony for this information:

Why do you want to hear Duncan Sheik perform with the San Francisco Symphony?

Come up with the most compelling, interesting, entertaining answer – in writing, music, video, or any other way you want to tell us your story – and you and a guest could be the lucky winners to see Duncan Sheik live with the San Francisco Symphony Saturday, April 10! Plus, you’ll get an autographed Whisper House CD and you and a guest will get to meet Duncan Sheik after the show!

If you’re a member of San Francisco Symphony’s community you can enter.

I’m not going to enter. But I know what I would have written if I had decided to enter (and I know it wouldn’t get me a win, but still….)

So, wanna see what I would have written? Here goes:


That’s right. I’ve never heard of the guy. Seems like that should be a good reason to get me in the house, you know?

But like I said, I’m not going to enter. I’m not usually one for contests. Which probably explains why I never win ‘em. :-)

03. March 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: San Francisco Symphony, Videos

How in the world did I neglect to mention that San Francisco Symphony is doing Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin next season? (October 14, 15, 16 17) While it doesn’t say, “William Bennett, oboe soloist” it might as well … it’s really a huge work for the oboe, as readers know. I really enjoy playing the English horn part. It’s not nearly as fun, though, when I have to play both the EH and the second oboe (which is how it’s written; back in San Jose Symphony days we’d split the book). The tempo of the first movement below (no, this isn’t SF Symphony) is actually nice and playable. But the part where the two oboes play in unison is just not fun (for me, at least).

So, I meant to mention a little tidbit from San Francisco Symphony’s press conference on Monday. When MTT was talking about Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, he said that he played second oboe on the work, under the direction of Lukas Foss (I believe this was at USC). He quote Foss saying, “Let Beethoven take you into his sweaty embrace.”

Just thought I’d share that with you all! :-)

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.

11. February 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: Links, San Francisco Symphony, Videos

I’ve always admired Julie Ann Giacobassi’s English horn playing. I do wonder, these days, what she’s up to, as she retired from her San Francisco Symphony a few years back. (Her site, Fish Creek Music, is still up and running, but no recitals are mentioned, so I’m guessing she’s truly retired.)

Who knew it was a family thing?

He set out to become a classical musician with hopes for a career with a metropolitan symphony orchestra. It’s a dream his sister, Julie, and brother, Mike, both realized.

“Mike has been with the Milwaukee Symphony as a violinist for, I think he said 33 years, now, and my sister, Julie (Hall) Giacobassi, just recently retired as an oboe/English horn specialist with the San Francisco Symphony. She was there, I think, 27 years,” Giacobassi said.

Giacobassi said his younger sister, Jane (Okada) Giacobassi, is a fine cellist active with community orchestras in the St. Paul, Minn., area.

Dan Giacobassi’s road has been harder. “I excelled pretty quickly with the technical aspects of the flute, but I had a terrible tone for years and years and years.”

Every evening was a musical traffic jam at the Giacobassi home. “We had to sort of line up to practice. Our house wasn’t very big and it was pretty much one person at a time got to practice.”“There was always music going on around me,” he said. “From my earliest memory, my mom (Martha), a pianist, was a church choir director. In Muskegon, it was Wood Avenue Methodist Church.”

I read it here.

Dan Giacobassi-Musician
26. December 2009 · Comments Off · Categories: Links, Opera, San Francisco Symphony

When Alfie Boe sang in Baz Luhrmann’s La Boheme he was introduced as “Alf Boe”. Some people giggled, remembering the TV show (one I missed — it must have been when we didn’t own a TV). And then some melted, because they really fell for the guy. And then we find out that not only is “Alf” one handsome guy, but the handsome guy can sing too.

And then La Boheme was bashed by so many in the opera world. I had been thinking, “This could be it! This could get the movie buffs into the opera world.” But it was bashed pretty hard by, especially, the New York crowd, and the next thing I knew, it was gone.

I had heard that some of the singers had gone on to do some interesting things, while others I’ve not heard a bit about since. Alf became Alfie and it appears has done quite well for himself. (My understanding, too, is that he found his future wife in San Francisco, during the run of Boheme. Nice, eh?)

Now he’s back; he’ll be singing in San Francisco Symphony’s New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. Part of me would love to attend. (Not that I’d try to talk to Boe at all; he didn’t have a clue who I was, and I wouldn’t want to bug him with “Hey, I played with you, dont’cha remember?” kind of stuff. That’s not in my comfort zone or my appropriate zone.) Another, stay-at-home part, prefers to stay home. The “money is tight” part of me is letting the “stay-at-home” part win.

And where are the other Boheme singers? One is with Il Divo (not my cuppa, but I’m betting he’s set for life, income-wise), one is on a grammy nominated opera CD, Volpone. So I guess while it might have been bashed, some of the singers are doing okay.