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 on Music in the Family · 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 on & Now He’s Alfie · 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.

Today we had only one Nutcracker, and tomorrow is a day off. (So what am I doing tomorrow? Teaching five students. Go figure!) This was the fourth Nutcracker in three days. That’s really not a huge deal … in past years we’ve had doubles on both Saturday and Sunday. I do enjoy having my Sunday evening off (although the Sunday afternoon performance meant I skipped church yet again. Sigh.). As you might recall, I blogged about neglectin my “idiot check” on Friday night. Rest assured that both Saturdays performances and today’s had my More Favored Reeds. (But — ACK! — I do believe the More Favored Reeds are dying quick deaths. Figures.)

Today was a different issue.

We got to “Big Number 5” (if you have the same parts we have) and this is my first low D# to low B back to low D#. So before starting, I do the nose grease on the pinkie thing (if you don’t know what I’m talking about you probably aren’t an oboist and you probably don’t really need to know!). I slid several times from the D# key to the B before I started to play, just to make sure the finger slid easily. But wait! I get to that moment and my brains says, “Patty, you have absolutely no clue how to finger this!” Really. It didn’t say it out loud, but it said it loud and clear for my brain to deal with. So what did I do? Well, I used the banana key! (Again, if you aren’t an oboist or English hornist this is sort of meaningless to you.) Now the banana key DOES work, but I never use it, and it’s not as reliable as a nice clean slide. So the low B wasn’t as responsive and clear as I’d like.

Never a dull moment.

There was another moment I wasn’t thrilled with. But we’ll leave that alone for now. Mostly I was just shocked by the brain freeze. (I know some of you call these something else, but I do prefer brain freeze, as it really does feel as if my brain is suddenly frozen or locked up.)

And now I’m home, and watching San Francisco Symphony and MTT doing Ives’ “New English Holidays”. Crazy Ives! When I first started playing English horn in San Jose Symphony (RIP) we did an Ives that, at one point, has the orchestra blasting away playing a number of different things (I think it’s a parade of sorts? … it’s been a LONG time! Maybe a reader will fill me in?). All of the sudden everyone stops and there is a lone English horn (me) playing a long held note. I was, at that point, not as tuned in to the EH and the key of F, and I was always surprised by the note that was sounding as I expected the pitch you’d hear on a C instrument. I’m sure I’d be missing that surprise now, and I’m sort of sorry; that was always a fun little moment.

This is part of San Francisco Symphony series called Keeping Score. It’s a series I highly recommend.

There are six more Nutcracker performances left, of which I play four; originally I had thought we’d be out of town for the final two so I submitted my absence request. This didn’t turn out to be the case, but I had to turn my notice in early enough that I didn’t know plans would be different. So oh well! I’ll be done early, and a sub will get some extra work. So … well … “it’s all good.” (I’ve decided “it’s all good” means “nothin’ to be done!”)

And … WOW … just at the part of the Ives with choir. Incredible! I’d love to do this work! And now I suppose I should get the DVD because this is really amazing!

13. October 2009 · Comments Off on Blue Nail Polish · Categories: Links, Ramble, San Francisco Symphony, Symphony

When Robin McKee knew she was going to appear on television, her first thought was about nail polish.

McKee, a Tulsa native, has been a member of the San Francisco Symphony for 26 years and now is the orchestra’s associate principal flute. And for the past several years, she has decorated her fingernails with a particularly vibrant shade of blue polish. RTWT

I have yet to watch the “Keeping Score” I was sent from San Francisco Symphony. I really need to … it’s Symphonie Fantastique, after all, and I should listen to Russ Deluna on English horn. But I just haven’t gotten around to it when I’m home, and my MacBook will no longer play DVDs or CDs. 🙁

(And nope. I don’t do the nail polish thing. Well, not on my fingernails in any case. Sometimes I use it to mark the side of the reed I want facing me (yes, with some reeds there’s a huge difference). But I don’t do the fingernail thing. I used to try, but they were never perfect so I’d remove the stuff just as quickly as it went on. And besides, my nails are not exactly lovely.)

01. September 2009 · Comments Off on Charlie Chaplin & Music · Categories: Links, San Francisco Symphony, Symphony

Last week at the San Francisco World’s Fair, the San Francisco Symphony, under Composer-Conductor Meredith Willson, played a work listed in the program as Prelude to The Great Dictator, by Charlie Chaplin. The program was not quite accurate. Actor Chaplin made up the four themes of the Prelude (“Invasion of Osterlich,” “Hanah Theme,” “Barber Shop Theme,” “Charlie Motif”), but the music was fashioned, and orchestrated, by Composer Willson. Although Actor Chaplin always writes music for his films, this was the first to be performed in concert. Said the critics: “Obvious as most satirical attempts. . . . Interesting. … A pleasant trifle. … It cannot claim to be concert music.”

This is from Time Magazine, September 9, 1940. RTWT

I had no idea Meredith Willson conducted San Francisco Symphony. Nor that he played in the NY Phil. Nor other tidbits I read here.

17. June 2009 · Comments Off on Happy Birthday, Igor Stravinsky! · Categories: Birthdays!, San Francisco Symphony

Google is acknowledging it too! 🙂

(The first time I heard this live was at Flint, eons ago, when San Francisco Symphony performed it. Marc Lifschey was on oboe. When he came in with the oboe solo toward the end it was the most incredible sound I had ever heard. What an oboe player that man was! If you never heard him you really missed something incredibly special.)

Bob Ward, principal horn of San Francisco Symphony, answers a question about auditions at the symphony’s social network site.

Find more videos like this on San Francisco Symphony Social Network

I think it would have been more fun to hear about his very long audition process.

Ah, auditions. I am quite behind in keeping those up to date here. This week I’m hoping to be able to catch up on the list. In the following weeks I definitely need to go through all my lists of oboe and bassoon players and make all the necessary changes. I have considered retiring those pages, as the work is awfully time consuming, but I’ll see if I can deal with it soon and if it’s not as difficult as I fear I’ll go ahead and keep ’em up; I think some people enjoy those lists. In case you haven’t viewed them, here they are:

12. May 2009 · Comments Off on Okay. I Caved. · Categories: Links, San Francisco Symphony

I joined San Francisco Symphony’s social network.

Yeah, I’m just that weak. 😉