31. March 2005 · Comments Off on Never mind! · Categories: imported, Ramble

I said Sondheim’s Passion wasn’t my fave … but I am much more fond of it now than I was 2 hours ago! The Live From Lincoln Center broadcast was absolutely wonderful.

It seems much more like opera than a musical, though. Although I’ve yet to figure out what the difference is. Hmmm. Neither can the cast; they are discussing this very thing right now.

Oh … here we go … It isn’t opera “because Stephen Sondheim doesn’t write for opera, he writes for 45th Street, he writes for Broadway.” Thanks, Patti Lupone.

I agree with Audra McDonald, though; it is a chamber opera and certainly opera companies could (and should) do this! Just as they should do Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music.

Opera San Jose, in fact, should do a summer series of Sondheim. Don’t you think? What a wonderful use of The California Theatre this would be!

31. March 2005 · Comments Off on Wailing and more … · Categories: imported, Ramble

“The pure, piercing wail of an A-440 quiets all the extraneous noise and we begin tuning.”

I don’t know. I realize the sound of an oboe can be piercing, and we can even wail, but when tuning the orchestra? I sure hope that’s not how it sounds!

But this is a fun little read, despite those two words.

Meanwhile … I’m sitting here watching the “live” (if I lived in New York anyway) broadcast of Sondheim’s Passion. It’s not my favorite Sondheim music, but I wanted to see and hear what this broadcast would be like. One thing I can already complain about (since I complain so very well) is the way it is filmed. I absolutely hate it when a live performance is filmed the way this one is. Rather than filming the entire stage, the person who is in charge of the cameras decides what we are looking at, and a moment ago he or she decided we needed to look at books. I prefer to have the camera stay on the complete stage and let me decide if I want to focus on one musician, actor or even a boot.

Call me silly, but I think I should get to decide what to look at. Just as I would at the live performance.

31. March 2005 · Comments Off on Music Quote · Categories: imported, Quotes

I like Wagner’s music better than any other music. It is so loud that one can talk the whole time without people hearing what one says. That is a great advantage.

-Oscar Wilde

(Seems appropriate since we are doing Wagner right now!)

30. March 2005 · Comments Off on Music Quote · Categories: imported, Quotes

Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.

-Samuel Johnson


29. March 2005 · Comments Off on Music Quote · Categories: imported, Quotes

Musical people are so absurdly unreasonable. They always want one to be
perfectly dumb at the very moment when one is longing to be absolutely deaf.

-Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Anglo-Irish playwright, author Mabel Chiltern, in “An Ideal Husband,” Act 2

29. March 2005 · Comments Off on Oh Really? · Categories: imported, Ramble

I received the following quote via an email list:

“Classical music is dying in the USA and nothing, short of resurrecting Leonard Bernstein, will halt it.”

I guess it’s time to sell the old oboe. Who will buy? Make an offer I can’t refuse!

But seriously, while I think there are some things we need to figure out regarding the future of classical music, I’m not ready to nail the coffin shut. Nor do I think Leonard Bernstein has quite the power this person thinks he has. (Nor do we have resurrection power!)

Ah well.

Opera began today. Wagner. The Flying Dutchman. Good oboe stuff. Don’t forget to get your tickets if you’re a local yokel. Or you far away folks could fly in if you so desire; if you do I’ll buy you a cuppa joe! Maybe even a dessert. If you’re nice. 😉

28. March 2005 · Comments Off on Another Blogger · Categories: imported, Ramble

Violinist Ilkka Talvi was concermaster of the Seattle Symphony until his recent firing. Turns out that he started blogging this month and there’s some interesting reading there in case anyone wants to check it out. His very first post (scroll down to the bottom) is one I can easily relate to; I’ve definitely played under the “DLU” sorts of conductors! (Some of those conductors seem to be “CUI” — conducting under the influence — and, in fact, I know one who often was.) Many of us who are at that wonderful age (hah!) where we need reading glasses added to our eyeglasses prescription even decide to have them made in such a way that the conductor remains a bit of a blur. Heck, with some conductors it’s just safer! (I’m NOT speaking of the symphony conductors I’ve worked with recently, by the way, so stop your guessing!)

Anyway, it’s a blog I’ll keep reading.

As to firing a concertmaster — that does happen. I haven’t a clue what Mr. Talvi’s particular story is, so I’m not going to defend or criticize here. I also won’t comment on the conductor, Gerard Schwarz, although I’m fairly sure he came down here once and I have a feeling I remember it. (I’ll have to verify this with my colleagues before I state that he was here as fact, though.)

But losing a job … OUCH. We musicians don’t have it easy, but at least those of us in the “ranks” usually have contracts that allow a bit of protection once we get tenure. A concertmaster is usually not included in the orchestral contract (from all I know, anyway, which is very little!). I’m very happy to sit in the oboe section, thank you very much.

27. March 2005 · Comments Off on Music Quote · Categories: imported, Quotes

Musical compositions, it should be remembered, do not inhabit certain countries, certain museums, like paintings and statues.  The Mozart Quintet is not shut up in Salzburg:  I have it in my pocket.

-Henri Rabaud


26. March 2005 · Comments Off on My Hands · Categories: imported, Ramble

Oboe Hands: Painting by Kelsey Mitchell, 2003

These are my hands. Kelsey (my daughter) painted them. So I suppose they are kind of her hands as well.

But, really, they look just like my hands. A friend saw the picture and knew immediately they were mine. I liked that!

I just thought I’d share the picture with you, in case you’ve never wandered into The Library and checked out Kelsey’s art!

26. March 2005 · Comments Off on Openings Galore! · Categories: imported, Ramble

Yep. I just posted some more oboe auditions that are coming up, including New York Philharmonic’s Principal Oboe Audition. (I don’t have the repertoire for that one, so if anyone else does I sure would love to have it emailed to me.) Visit Professional Orchestra Auditions to see the long list.

I’m guessing a lot of people are practicing hard these days. There sure are a lot of openings.

Auditions are fairly ridiculous things, if you ask me. Each player (and most who audition are excellent) has about 5 minutes to shine. It’s not at all like playing a performance with an orchestra, because you have none of the support we all love so much. No comfort of colleagues who will be (silently) cheering you on. No accompaniment that makes the solo work so much easier (you have to hear all of that in your head). No conductor (to drive you nuts but also to help keep the tempo steady — sometimes, anyway!). No audience to be seen, since the majority of auditions are behind a screen. No feedback whatsoever. So everything about an audition is unnatural. I despise them from either side of the screen. But that’s what we have to live with. Sigh.

I would much prefer having a few people sit in the orchestra and see who is the best fit. But, alas, some would consider that unfair. So we can’t do that.

But enough of what I think! I’m not taking these auditions so why should I get grumpy about it all? For those of you who are considering entering the competition, check out the nice long list and turn in those resumés!