30. September 2006 · Comments Off on Opening Night: Closed · Categories: imported, Ramble

… or something like that anyway!

We had our opening night concert. I only play the first half, and I must confess I didn’t stick around for the reception after the second half. I’m not great at mingling and I’m not really excited about parties, but mostly I wanted to get home because Dan is on a mini-vacation, and we still have one kiddo at home whom I hadn’t seen since 8:00 in the morning.

The Borodin was fine, including, I think, my solo. I actually had a good time playing it. I hope others enjoyed it too, but I’m learning that I can’t please everyone. I do my best. That’s what I need to do. That’s what I want to do. That’s what I try to do every time I play. Except when I try to do better than my best. That’s okay too. 🙂

The silly thing (and I hope not too distracting) is the chair exchange we have to do between that and the second work; when I’m playing English horn I prefer a “cello chair” because it is a wee bit higher than a normal chair. So it’s in the second oboe position for the Borodin, since there is no second oboe on the work. (I moved the chair myself, while the pre-concert talk was going on, and I hope I wasn’t too distracting to the audience, but it had to be done.) For the second work, the Higdon, I move down a seat to third oboe. I don’t need the cello chair at that point, but I know that the second oboist isn’t terribly comfortable on it, so we switch things back so that he can have a normal chair. I don’t mind cello chairs when playing oboe. They do keep one awake; you really can’t sit back on them. A former stage manager once suggested I needed a cello chair simply so that I couldn’t fall asleep when playing English horn. You see, we do have a lot of sitting time when playing that instrument … sometimes we sit for a movement, play a solo, and sit for the remainder of the work, in fact! But really, I like the chair because I feel it helps the response of the instrument. Honest.

Anyway, I do wonder what the audience thinks about all our chair craziness! And we do the chair moving ourselves since this symphony is a fairly small organization and we don’t have a lot of stage hands just waiting to do our bidding. (I once started to move something while on the stage at Davies in San Francisco and the stage manager nearly bit my head off. It’s a huge no-no for a musician to move anything there. Not so in San Jose.)

Tomorrow we have the same program for our 2:30 concert. More English horn. Some oboe. And some furniture moving to do.

30. September 2006 · Comments Off on Next Symphony Set · Categories: imported, Ramble

I was just listening to Gabriel Fauré’s Pelleas et Melisande, Opus 80. I do love that music. But what I especially love is the Chanson de Mélisande. Sigh. So lovely. The CD* I have includes Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (then billed as Lorraine Hunt). That voice. It’s so moving (that’s a rather lame word for a wondrous voice, really) and I do grieve to think she’s no longer here.

I have a suspicion we won’t be doing the version with the Chanson. Such a shame; it really is my favorite part of the work. It’s why I purchased this CD in fact; most don’t include it. Of course the rest is lovely as well. But that song … if you haven’t heard it, please do check it out sometime.

O no hope now forever—
Our lamps are gone out.

*My CD is Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, on Deutsche Grammophon. Also included on this recording are Dolly (orchestral version), Après un Rêve (with Jules Eskin on cello), Pavane (with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus), and Elégie (with Jules Eskin on cello).

I don’t think many people visit the discussion page, so I’m posting this entry on the blog in case anyone is interested in purchasing a Gilbert shaper tip:

Know somebody who wants a Gilbert shaper tip? 🙂

Well, guys, as cool as hoarding all my oboe supplies is, the truth of the matter is that I really never use this shape. Also, while I may consider myself a young undiscovered phenom on the path to international renown, I can’t deny that a less optimistic title would probably be “financially independent starving artist college student”–i.e. Dirt Poor. So– anyone in the market for a Gilbert tip? I think I might have used it for all of a week or two, a few years ago. I’d like to sell it for $100. It’s as good as new, and also one of the most common shapes (at least over here on the East Coast.) Write me, please! at superlani19 (at) hotmail (dot) com. ~lani~

So there you go. And yes, at this point I’m fine with posting items here, as long as they are oboe related, and are private sales. (I don’t want to start advertising for businesses; I have links a’plenty to businesses and you can visit those pages by clicking on links on the left side of the page. Check out all the Double Reed Sources and you’ll see.)

29. September 2006 · Comments Off on Surprise! · Categories: imported, Ramble

Rehearsal Schedule posted on the wall for tonight’s rehearsal:

  • Higdon
  • Tchaikovksy
  • Borodin
  • Prior to the start of the rehearsal I warmed up on oboe. About five minutes before we were to start I thought, “I might as well toot a bit on the English horn.” So I played a little bit, and then packed it back up. After all, the Borodin wouldn’t be played for about two hours!

    The maestro came in, stood on the podium, and said, “Borodin.”

    Say what?!

    Well that was quite the way to begin. I had to quickly unpack the instrument again, pull out the reeds, and move over a chair (no second oboe is on the Borodin). The first notes in the Borodin for me are my solo, after waiting something like 43 measures.

    Needless to say, my heart rate was a bit speedy for a time.

    I was actually glad to play it first, although I would have preferred to know it ahead of time. The order of the program is Borodin, Hidgon, and then Tchaikovsky. And that’s the way we rehearsed it. I like dress rehearsals to go that way.

    So no complaints. Just a surprising way to begin the evening!

    29. September 2006 · Comments Off on Being Me · Categories: imported, Ramble

    Some readers may notice that I am somewhat self-deprecating at times.

    I just want to point out that that is better than being self-decapitating.

    Or is it …? 😉

    29. September 2006 · Comments Off on And I thought it was all about ME! · Categories: imported, Ramble

    “In classical music it’s all about the composer, so it’s very indulgent,” he says. “In rock music, there’s no excuse. If you don’t make a connection with your songs, it’s your fault and it’s your music. That’s what fascinates me about rock music; it’s the great equalizer.”

    So some of the younger generation (I still can’t believe I’m not included. Go figure!) are forming new sorts of orchestras. They are reaching out to new ears. That’s okay by me. I say go for it.

    Just don’t ask me to play carrot or caulifower, pierce my tongue, or try to play hip hop.

    Hmm. Guess I am too old and jaded for these guys!

    One group is called the Ambitious Orchestra. And everyone knows we oldsters have no ambition. 😉

    Speaking of which, I’m on a double reed mailing list. (Two, in fact. Both can be a pain in the neck, as some folks always have anger and politeness issues, and of course there are plenty of egos.) Someone wrote, saying that German orchestras only accept musician auditionees who are 30 or younger. Can this be true? Anyone out there know for sure? Ouch.

    28. September 2006 · Comments Off on Ouch! My Ears! · Categories: imported, Ramble

    I never used to wear ear plugs when playing; I hate the way I hear myself, including my tongue clacking—yes, it sounds like that—against the reed. I can’t stand not hearing everyone else clearly. And I hate “ear plug tone” from my oboe and English horn. But recently I have had to don ear plugs on occasion. I just assumed I was getting more sensitive as I aged for some reason.

    But Alex Ross writes, “…everyone knows orchestras play louder than they ever used to…”.

    Silly me! I always think it’s about me and, in this case, thought it was about me and my ears. I’m guessing he’s right; people are playing louder.

    But you know how it goes … higher, faster, louder … doesn’t that make for good music?

    (My students will know I don’t mean that; I tell them that I’m much more impressed by those who can play softly and slowly. It takes so much more skill and control! And everyone knows about low notes and oboe. Don’t they?)

    I do recall, though, that a friend of mine decided to try out “classical” music. He emailed me to ask what was up with the music; he had to keep turning the volume up and down because otherwise he either couldn’t hear it or it was too loud. I had to explain dynamics to him; most popular music is pretty much the same dynamic, or so it was with the stuff he was listening to. And I do want dynamic contrast. That is one of the (many) things I love about what we do.

    28. September 2006 · Comments Off on I Can Still Be Stuffy! · Categories: imported, Ramble

    I download music. Lots of it, in fact. Much more than the 11 pieces of music, which is what those folks older than 50 download. I listen to music on my iPod (right now I have some Malcolm Arnold playing; I decided to become familiar with his symphonies, which I’ve never played). I burn CDs. I have playlists.

    But, darn it all, I can still be stuffy if I want to be!

    I read this:

    Fans of classical music have shed their stuffy image and embraced technology, according to Gramophone magazine.

    And, well, I say, in the most uppity sort of voice I can manage, “By golly, can’t stuffy and technology go hand in hand, my dears?”

    Yes. Yes they can.

    So I will still pretend to be better than everyone else. I will still suggest that “classical” (or shall I say “serious”?) music is so much more important than “popular” music. And I will hold my pinkie daintily away from the tea cup as I sip my spot ‘o tea.

    Or not.

    Sorry … I just thought it was funny that embracing technology implies we are unstuffed.

    I hope folks who read this know by now when I’m winking.

    May I say that it drives me nuts when a musician decides it’s time to clip his or her nails while in the pit or on the stage?

    Yes. I might say that. I might even write it down.

    This is news you can use. Really.

    27. September 2006 · Comments Off on Eight Sentences · Categories: imported, Ramble

    I hadn’t seen Matthew Guerrieri’s site before. But I suppose (I can’t remember for sure … maybe I happened upon it on a blog search) one of the other places I visit (see the long list of links to your right) took me to Eight sentences about classical music I’d be happy never to read again.


    I’ll have to think of some of my own. Maybe. If I can be so creative. Being a classical musician I’m used to playing someone else’s notes. So do I have a single creative thought of my own in this brain ‘o mine?

    Well, yes. Yes, I do!

    But not right now.

    Right now I have to get out the oboe and English horn and get to a bit ot practice. Symphony begins rehearsals today! Borodin (In the Steppes of Central Asia or, as my part reads, “Eine Steppenskizze”. English horn. Solo.) Higdon (Concerto for Orchestra. Lots of very fast notes. Some low notes too. Third oboe). Tchaikovksy (Symphony No. 2: I don’t play that one). So there’s work to be done. Although not on the Tchaik. (Duh.) Reeds to be looked at. Maybe even touched. Marks to be made. I mark my parts a lot; I’d rather look stupid on the parts than be heard stupid, if you know what I mean!