Paul Mealor: Ubi caritas
Sam Houston State University Chorale; Dr. James Franklin, Conductor

James Rose is used to being underestimated. “Until the age of 11, I was in a special school, and then I asked my parents to move me into a mainstream one because I was getting bored,” he tells me. “I was being given work aimed at five- and six-year-olds.”


Ilyas Iliya: Avoonan dbishmayya (“Lord’s Prayer”)
CORO Vocal Artists; Matthew Oltman, Conductor

William Billings: David’s Lamentation
Fog City Singers

Vaughan Williams; I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
Chant Claire Chamber Choir; Benjamin Bedroske, Director

Heyr himna smiour (Icelandic hymn)
Olga Vocal Ensemble

Hear, smith of the heavens,
what the poet asks.
May softly come unto me
thy mercy.
So I call on thee,
for thou hast created me.
I am thy slave,
thou art my Lord.

God, I call on thee
to heal me.
Remember me, mild one,
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
every human sorrow
from the city of the heart.

Watch over me, mild one,
Most we need thee,
truly every moment
in the world of men.
send us, son of the virgin,
good causes,
all aid is from thee,
in my heart.?

Felix Mendelssohn: Verleih uns Frieden
Northwestern University Chorus; Donald Nally, Conductor; Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra; Victor Yampolsky, Conductor

Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich,
Herr Gott, zu unsern Zeiten;
Es ist doch ja kein andrer nicht,
Der für uns könnte streiten,
Denn du, unsr Gott, alleine.

Grant us peace graciously,
Lord God, in our time;
there is indeed no other
who could fight for us
than You, our God, alone.

Text: transl. Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

Giovanni Croce: Veni in hortum meum
Munich University Choir; Verena Egger, Director

31. July 2018 · 4 comments · Categories: Ramble

I just read an article about the possibility that certain instruments will disappear from youth orchestras, due to the lack of popularity. They “now risk becoming extinct.” The header reads “Big beasts of the orchestra could become extinct in ago of YouTube, arts chief warns.”

And what, you wonder, are these “big beasts?”

I’d think double bass, tuba, timpani, harp, contra-bassoon … you know, the ones parents regret having their kids study because hauling them around requires a car that can carry them.

Is that what you’d think as well?

But if you then read the article it says this:

The sheer physical size of the instruments, the complications of the reeds, and the expense of lessons has led to these instruments being sidelined”, he explained.

So here is the actual list:

… the days of the oboe, bassoon, french horn and tuba could be numbered, an arts chief has warned, as interest from the younger generations has dwindled to such a low that the instruments now risk becoming extinct.

Okay. Got it. Oboe is a beast. I’ll agree to that! And yes, reeds … the major hassle of the oboe and bassoon. But the headline had made me think the instruments HAD to be large. Gotta love those headline writers!

But honestly, I don’t see instruments becoming “extinct”. Needed desperately, sure. But orchestras will continue to use them unless we start omitting them from compositions. Hm. Beethoven symphonies without the oboe solos. Sure, why not?

In addition, I hardly think YouTube can be blamed for the demise of these instruments should they becoming less popular. But maybe that’s just me. I think it’s a silly excuse.

Okay … nit picking over ‘n out.

I did find it interesting that these instruments are difficult to come by in the UK. My oboe teaching colleagues that I recommend in the Bay Area and I have had to turn down students, we get so many.

Why, you wonder?

I have more than a sneaking suspicion it is still that parents think oboe is that magic “key to college entrance.” That would make sense: the UK probably don’t NEED the “key to college entrance” like our kids need here. I yearn for the day when all my students tell me they are taking oboe because they simply love the sound of the oboe! It could happen. Maybe.

I pick up my oboe and English horn tomorrow, after having left them in the shop for a rather good amount of time. I knew I had no work all summer (rats) and this would be a perfect time to be away from them.

The cost?

$1,100 total.

Yes, really.

Needless to say, they needed a lot of work. They are old. Things go wrong. Plus I’d been rather negligent and hadn’t taken them in when I should have. (Once a year is the smart thing to do. Or at least once a year!)

This is part of the musician’s life. We purchase our own instruments. We maintain them. And many oboist (not me) replace them frequently. (Do I need to add the reed expense bit here? Hm.)

All I can think about at the moment is, “How many students will it take to pay for this expense?!”

I’m glad I really love to teach (most of the time: recently there have been a few students who have pretty much refused to practice and that makes it less enjoyable). In case any readers think I make enough to survive with my performing groups please know my main source of income is actually teaching, NOT performing! I would, in fact, make a better income if I gave up performing all together and filled rehearsal and performance time with students. Crazy, isn’t it?