25. April 2006 · Comments Off on They Seemed To Really Enjoy It · Categories: imported, Ramble

I’m just home from opera. It’s 11:30. Some of you might see that time and think, “Wow. That’s pretty late to be coming home from work.” (I know that a lot of you won’t, of course, if you are late night sorts.) But I’m probably the second one home from the orchestra; one other player lives closer to the hall, but the drive for me is usually under ten minutes.

The audience was quite enthusiastic, so that was great.

But me? Sigh. The lovely reed I’ve been enjoying died a sudden death tonight. And I mean sudden. There were notes. Then there were no notes. This usually means that there was a very small hairline crack and it finally went through. I had wondered if what I was hoping was just the grain was really a crack. It was one of those times I try to pretend I don’t really see it … denial is such a wonderful thing for at least a short time. So instead of the wonder reed I had to use a reed that works but is what I call a “spit catcher.” No, I don’t really spit into the reed! It’s just that the reed sounds like it has something in it. Even though it really doesn’t. That problem is a mystery to me. Fortunately I rarely get reeds like that, but I had to deal with it tonight and by the time we finished the opera I was beat.

I’ll bet you can’t guess what I’ll be working on tomorrow … right?! 🙂

One orchestra colleague was complaining about getting no mention in the Merc review. I hadn’t even thought about that. I guess I don’t really expect the orchestra to get mentioned in opera reviews. But to her it was a big insult. Funny how we all take things differently. When I’ve played English horn solos in symphonic works and don’t get a mention my reaction is to assume the reviewer hated me. Ah, we are a sensitive bunch, aren’t we?!

And now it’s nearing midnight. I need to get up a little after 6:00 AM. I think I’d better call it a night!

25. April 2006 · Comments Off on Grumble, Grumble **REEDS** Grumble, Grumble · Categories: imported, Ramble

My reeds are very unhappy. This weather isn’t helping. I have opera tonight. Sigh.

First of all, Brian Sacawa corrected his error of saying his earlier post, that I then commented on, was by a visual artist. It was not. It was by someone else. Since then there have been more comments at Drew’s site, and I realize that 1) I’ve been challenged 2) I offended several people 3) people who don’t know me read what I write differently than people who know me and 4) I need to be more careful about what I quote; my “pearls before folks” was (duh!) seen as “pearls before swine” and I don’t call people swine, nor do I think those who don’t care for classical music are pigs or “less-than-people” people . Really. But I liked the pearls part and I let my fingers run away with words sometimes. So I do apologize to the “real poster” of the comment. I wasn’t calling you a pig. Honest.

But the visual artist has challenged me now. And I’m not sure how to take that, as I’m never up for a challenge. (I’m not a very competitive person. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone into music since I’m not competitive, eh? I’ve always taken what I’ve been given, but I’ve never fought for more. Call me lazy (like a pig in mud?). Call me wimpy too, because I also shy away from confrontation. But since I guess this one is my fault—I got into this one and now I have to deal with it—I have to take it like an oboist. Or something.

Anyway, I clearly stepped on folks’ toes, for which I do apologize. Anyone who knows me I hate toe-stepping! But I have very large feet.

So here’s the challenge:

Let’s not let our preconceptions about visual artists hide a very real fact: visual artists experience a lot more classical music than classical musicians take time to experience visual art. I say that as someone who has listened to classical music my entire career as I worked, and whose many artist acquaintances do the same. I would challenge any oboeist, or any other musician to be able to do the visual equivalent of what I and another graduate student did one night, while working in the studio: whistling the last movement of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, in its entirety,
while alternating music phrases between us, in a playful exercise of sheer joy over the music and our communication. Maybe, we missed our calling!

She’s right; I don’t see enough art. I wish I could say she was wrong, but to get to a gallery just doesn’t happen enough for me. And I’m embarrassed by that. And I can’t look at art while I work … I can’t practice or perform and manage to do anything else at the same time. I know some colleagues who read while playing (even in performance!), or who watch TV while practicing. I can’t do it. When I was in my “wannabe poet” stage I couldn’t write while listening to music either; it was one or the other. Words took my full attention. Music took my full attention. (For the record, the house is silent right now.)

As to whistling? Nope. I can’t do that either. First of all, I can only whistle while inhaling (really!), but to whistle Beethoven’s Violin Concerto is simply an impossibility for me. I can’t even imagine doing that.

So I fail the challenge. And I apologize to the visual artist whom I clearly offended even while my blog was in response to comments she didn’t even write, nor did I name anyone at all. If you read this blog, dear artist, I am sorry for the offense!

If I hear from her and she wants her site listed here I’m fine with that—I’m all for promoting artists. But since I’m still not into naming names, I don’t feel comfortable providing the link at the moment.

To all of you: If you can whistle Beethoven please send me a recording. And if you want to disagree with me about anything that’s okay. I’m pretty darn wimpy. I’m insecure. But if I put something offensive up at this site I deserve to be called on it.

I still stand by my “classical music isn’t for everyone” thought, though. I think that one is okay … isn’t it? Does that stomp on toes? I would think those that don’t like it would nod their heads and say, “sure isn’t!” and those that like it would say, “Gee, maybe that makes me special.” (To the non-lovers that’s okay too … they can just smile innocently and say, “Sure, you’re very, very specciiiall,” in a very special and knowing way.

OH … and this doesn’t mean I don’t believe I shouldn’t introduce classical music to people. You never know who will fall for it! My mother brought a bunch of friends to see La Boheme. She didn’t know what they’d think. I kind of had them pegged. One that I’d decided was a definite “Never again!” sort went home and told her husband she loved it and would go again.

So you never know.

Yeah, I do realize that the artist was suggesting I do the “visual equivalent” of whistling Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. I did get that. It’s just that I’m not sure what that might be, and I have to be honest and say I haven’t the talent to do even a smidgin’ of visual art. It’s a drag, to be honest. But there you go. I do put little eyeglasses on my music when I need to pay attention to the conductor. Does that count for anything?

I didn’t think so.

Sometimes I just wanna be a kid again. I watched this slide show, with music, of Curtis and I vaguely remember being young and playing in the orchestra and I remember the great joy (and tremendous nerves) of that time. Granted, I wasn’t at a music conservatory and my orchestral experience while in college was primarily with the San Jose Symphony (RIP) (I did play in the SJSU orchestra for a couple of years, but they wrote the BM requirements in such a way that I didn’t continue with school performing groups for the full four years).

I wonder about the music and pictures in the slide show, though; they are playing Stravinsky The Firebird but then they show a piano soloist (probably someone I’m supposed to recognize but don’t … yikes … shame on me!) taking a bow. Isn’t that sort of weird? I would have thought they’d have a piano concerto playing, considering the pictures. But what do I know?

And I’m also wishing we’d do The Firebird with Symphony Silicon Valley. Maybe someday? I’ll never forget my experience hearing it played at Flint Center at De Anza College, with Marc Lifschey on oboe. When he came in with the solo he filled every inch of the room with his amazing, beautiful, velvety, rich sound. I had never heard that sort of beauty before. He was quite the musician.

I should have read the article that went with the slide show. Then I would have known the soloist was Gary Graffman and that the concert was in his honor. I also would have heard some more sound clips. (Now I have.)

25. April 2006 · Comments Off on Another Don Giovanni Review · Categories: imported, Reviews

He definitely liked it.