VOCES8: ‘Laudibus in Sanctis’ by William Byrd

I was to be involved in the Symphony San Jose concert next week. Alas, Omicron has had its way with us. The concerts aren’t canceled, but are postponed until April 2 and 3 (the main page mentions this, but someone has yet to update the concerts page). We aren’t the only Bay Area group to change plans. A number of friends have also had their concerts canceled or postponed. Several, though, still have concerts scheduled and some have made the tremendously difficult decision to cancel out. It’s a wise move, but it’s painful: if we don’t work, we don’t get paid. Most of us have no vacation pay, little or no sick pay, and have, in the past, played even while ill. I have a feeling that after Covid (will there BE an “after Covid”?) we might be more likely to not play while sick. I’m hoping so!

Some of the Big Guys, like San Francisco Symphony, have continued with their schedules. They have the money to purchase testing and have tested everyone frequently. Up until yesterday San Francisco Symphony had not canceled anything, but that changed yesterday. From what they posted several musicians tested positive and their 2:00 matinee was canceled. The audience did get a treat, though: the soloist, pianist Jan Lisiecki, treated them to a recital of Chopin. (Still, I am not at all interested in attending a concert in person at this point!) They haven’t announced that today and tomorrow’s concerts are postponed or canceled, but I will continue to check their site as well as a musicians’ group I’m in where we fill each other in on all the news.

I’m hopeful that this variant we are dealing with will soon start to diminish in our area. From what I read it is already doing that. I still have Opera San Jose’s Carmen scheduled for February and our financial situation will great improve if I can finally get back to work again.

I’ve not done a “new to me” post in eons, but I landed on this video and I had never heard of the composer before. Baroque composer Johann Melchior Molter, from Germany, is worth a listen, as is this group! (And I just love the sound of the Baroque oboe.)

From the YouTube page:

Johann Melchior Molter
Concerto for oboe in a
Badische Landesbibliothek Karlsruhe Concertos- Mus. Hs. 300

0:00 I. Allegro
3:07 II. Largo
5:14 III. Allegro

Musica Gloria
Nele Vertommen & Beniamino Paganini

Nele Vertommen – oboe
Elise Dupont – violin
Pietro Battistoni – violin
Lena Rademann – viola
Phyllis Bartholomeus – cello
Beniamino Paganini – harpsichord

Thomas Langlois – recording supervisor
Rachel Perfecto & Jakob De Vreese – video recording cameras
Peter Van Wonterghem – sound engineer
Nele Vertommen & Beniamino Paganini – sound editing
Beniamino Paganini – sound recording & video editing

Hollands College Leuven (B) – 11 December 2021

With many thanks to LozerCultureel

(Yes, I will start posting these again when I find something I want to share!)

JS Bach: Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 354
Netherlands Bach Society

We know of a whole series of chorale melodies that have been handed down separately, to which Bach added chords. ‘Jesu, der du meine Seele’ seems to be just one of many texts in which standard Lutheran theology is turned into poetry: Christ suffered and died for our sins. But that’s not the whole story. The words of this hymn were written by Johann Rist (1607-1667), a poet, playwright and founder of a literary society, who was interested in mathematics, medicine and the world.

The melody Bach used for ‘Jesu, der du meine Seele’ is not the one Rist originally published with his text. However, it is a melody that may possibly have been written by Rist. Some time later, the melody was combined with Rist’s lyrics for ‘Jesu der du meine Seele’. Bach took this hymn – both text and melody – for the opening chorus of a cantata, for instance BWV 78, as well as using it in this individual chorale BWV 354, which was probably part of a lost cantata.

Recorded for the project All of Bach on 28th February 2019 at Grote Kerk, Alkmaar. If you want to help us complete All of Bach, please subscribe to our channel http://bit.ly/2vhCeFB and consider donating http://bit.ly/2uZuMj5.

For more information on BWV 354 and this production go to www.bachvereniging.nl/en/bwv/bwv-354/

All of Bach is a project of the Netherlands Bach Society / Nederlandse Bachvereniging, offering high-quality film recordings of the works by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by the Netherlands Bach Society and its guest musicians. Visit our free online treasury for more videos and background material https://www.bachvereniging.nl/en/allofbach For concert dates and further information go to https://www.bachvereniging.nl

Netherlands Bach Society
Christoph Prégardien, conductor

And now for some beautiful music. Bernice Lee plays an arrangement by Fergus Davidson of a movement of Tombeau de Couperin. Wonderful!

If you want to buy the music just click here.

Knowing that some are looking for in-person lessons, I thought I’d let you all know that Zoom continues here for the time being. Believe me, I will have a huge announcement posted when I start to accept students into my house again! (I can’t wait … yet I must.)

One student said his school is closed at the moment: too many teachers have Covid.
Another student says his classrooms are about half full: too many students are ill.
I had a student whose entire family was ill with Covid (this was a while back and they are fine now, thankfully).

If you attend concerts anywhere near us you will find many of them have been canceled “out of an abundance of caution” (I will be so happy not to read that phrase again, sometime in my life!). My concerts, so far, are going to happen toward the end of this month (symphony) and next month (opera). I will be taking a bit of a risk (although all of us must be tested and vaccinated) which means that in person lessons could potentially put my students at risk as well. In addition, students attending school in person put themselves and me at risk.

So I will continue to teach on Zoom, much as I prefer to see my students in my studio. Everything I’ve read suggests we don’t go into my small studio room, sharing air for 45 minutes. The one advantage of teaching via Zoom is I can teach students who don’t even live near me, so if you are reading this and want to schedule lessons, please just send me a note and we can work something out!

I want students and their families to stay healthy, and I want to keep my husband and myself healthy as well!

But oh how I miss seeing my students in person.

Trying to pull something positive out of the times we are living in, I suppose I could say I’m being forced to be more flexible! I’m a control freak in so many ways (like all of them, perhaps?) and Covid Times do not allow me to be that way.

So let me ramble about how I’ve dealt with the times we are living in, concerning my career.

When Covid first hit our area we were shut down completely. My last playing job back then was Il Trovatore with Opera San Jose. The final performance was March 1, 2020. I continued to teach in my home studio for a very short time, but then I stopped doing even that.

Remember those initial days? We didn’t really even go outside! Mail was left to sit in the box, or brought inside to wait to be opened for a week or so, in case the virus was transmitted via objects like mail. We washed all of our ordered and delivered groceries. I learned how to teach students via Google Hangout, Facetime or Zoom. (We eventually moved fully to Zoom, and thankfully it has improved over time and now it’s usually rather comfortable to teach that way, although in-person lessons are a vast improvement.) I thought I’d get the house really clean and even wash my windows (nope!). But we cooked a lot. We ate well (I’m married to an incredible cook). And I was thankful, and continue to be, that I am married to someone who is easy to hunker down with.

Slowly we learned that we were pretty safe doing some things. I went out for my daily walks (at first wearing a mask, later having one around my neck in case I encountered others). The walks were pretty amazing: I could walk down our busiest street and it was empty!

Slowly some arts groups learned how to stream things for those of us who were desperate to “attend” concerts. In particular I got hooked on the “Live from London” series, put on by the VOCES8 Foundation. (If you can support them I recommend that. VOCES8 is my absolute favorite vocal group, but they featured other groups as well in their series.) Opera San Jose also featured streaming videos and did quite a good job. Eventually I was hired to record for one of them, doing Mozart & Salieri in their newly created space. THAT, on August 17,18, and 19, 2021 was my first time back to work. Yes, it had been over a year since I’d had any work performing. Symphony Silicon Valley (soon to be renamed Symphony San Jose) started up on August 14 with two outdoor concerts, and we were back on stage September 29 through October 3. That was an interesting concert to begin with, as I had the rather important English horn solo in Dvorak’s “New World” symphony (The Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178).

Since that time I’ve done a symphony set, followed by the final Harry Potter movie with symphony, and yet another symphony set. That’s not a lot of work for a musician. My last day of symphony was December 5. Since then? Nothing. But work begins again on January 19, when we do the American Masters set with Symphony.

Why do I write all this? Partly because I’m trying to put together “My Life under Covid’s Reign” so I can remember how things went. Partly so my students and anyone else who is interested will see how this has hit the performing arts. I’m not even sure how much work I lost: when we first shut down I was deleting the concerts as they went by on my calendar. I know I lost a lot. A full year of opera and symphony, plus whatever was scheduled from March 2020 to the end of that season (we end our seasons around June). It was obviously a financial drain, and I’m forever grateful to my students for sticking with lessons … and even attending more than usual since they didn’t have school/sports conflicts for a time. While I lost a significant amount of income, I feel for my colleagues who don’t teach, and who performed SO much more than I did in the Before Times. Some retired. Some went out and searched for new jobs, but many were living on unemployment for a long while. Filing for unemployment is VERY difficult. I tried. I cried. I gave up! (I’m grateful that I never really needed it … again, thanks to my students!)

Now we are back to work, but it’s not normal. We are tested. We are masked when possible (the conductor, strings, percussion, and all backstage folks, along with the audience are always masked, and winds and brass are supposed to mask up when not playing). We are all required to be fully vaccinated. And we all still wonder if this is the day we catch the dreaded beast. Or perhaps it’s the day we are, again, shut down completely.

I could go on, but my brain is tired. (I used to blame reeds. I think today I’ll blame Covid! Certainly I will blame only myself for all the typos I’m sure exist here, though.)

Stay well. Stay safe. Get those boosters!

In the stillness
Music by Sally Beamish
Performed by The Gesualdo Six, directed by Owain Park

The Christmas Song
Our arrangement of the popular cristmas song
We Hope you will enjoy it!

Oboenkalsse Weimar
The Christmas Song
Songwriter: Mel Torme / Robert Wells


Daniela Juriši?
Viktoria Kassel
Sergio Montijano Bares
Leopold Kern
Marta Meštrovi?
Sabrina Fürtsch
Jesper Burandt

Cor Anglais:
Katharina Althen

Video, Sound &, Arrangement:
Mykyta Sierov – https://www.instagram.com/mykyta_sierov/

Special Thanks to Mascha Weimar https://www.facebook.com/MaschaWeimar
DiKuK https://www.facebook.com/KleinkunstInstitut