06. February 2007 · Comments Off on A Bit Too Far From Boston? · Categories: Announcements, imported

All this season’s remaining BSO programs — including this week’s Berlioz Damnation de Faust with Paul Groves, Yvonne Naef and José van Dam, next week’s world premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s symphony Theologoumena, the following week’s premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Notes on Light (February 22-27), and Beethoven’s Fidelio with Karita Mattila as Leonore (March 23-27) — will be available through live streaming audio at www.wgbh.org and www.wcrb.com, the websites of Boston’s two major classical radio stations.

I read about it here.

06. February 2007 · Comments Off on Auditions · Categories: imported, Ramble

Roger Bourland blogged about UCLA undergraduate composition auditions. A good read. (Which sounds like “a good reed” but is not nearly as vital! 😉

At UCSC we don’t audition the music applicants. They get into UCSC and then after taking a particular course they sign up and play a jury and we accept them or we don’t. Or we put the student in the “come back in the spring and try again” box. So I don’t have to really worry about auditions to begin with. Some potential students will come have a lesson with me to audition me … and I’m fine with that! If they don’t connect with me from the start they might prefer to go elsewhere. (Still, in the music biz you end up working with all sorts of folks you might not connect with and you still have to make fine music.)

I’ve been on audition panels, of course. I’ve been there for both San Jose Symphony (RIP) and for Opera San José. I’ve been behind the screen judging, I’ve been the personnel manager handling the auditionees, and I’ve even had to announce the winner and send folks home.

I don’t like doing it.

I don’t like the reponsibility. I don’t like choosing one player when I know at least a few others would be just as fine. I don’t like sending people home sad and deflated. But it’s part of the gig so there you go.

In the past applicants have asked me for my notes when the audition is over. I have usually gone ahead and provided them, although I might do a bit of editing if I feared feelings would be greatly hurt by some frank comments. But after the last Opera San José audition I decided that I might have to change my policy on it. There were hurt feelings, even without sending out my notes. There was rumor that we had fixed the audition (believe me, we didn’t!). And one person wrote me a rather hostile email that caught me quite by surprise. (Why someone would do that to the person who puts together a sub list is beyond me, but oh well!) So now I’m thinking, “Am I willing to send out notes that might cause trouble?” I don’t know.

Still, I know people like to know what we heard, and why we chose the winner.

Jameson had his audition at UCLA a few Saturdays ago. (Not for the music department.) I couldn’t help but pester him when he got home: “Did they give you any feedback? Could you read them at all? What do you think? How did you compare to the others that you heard and saw?”

He really didn’t have a lot to say, aside from the “Not much feedback” comment. He thought he did “okay” and now it’s just hurry up and wait.

I hate waiting.

But I wonder, then, if Dr. Bourland, in telling potential applicants what they needed to learn and do, made it clear that they weren’t accepted. While that might hurt for a time (sometimes a long time!) at least they would KNOW and not have to wait until … what is it? … March 31.

Auditions are such a scary thing. I don’t do auditions, thank you very much. I like my jobs. I’m happy to add more if anyone will have me. But putting together a ton of excerpts, playing to an unseen panel in an uncomfortable (and not at all realistic) setting? Nope. Not for me.

Ramble ramble …

Just yakking. While I have the time.

When I read Richard Scheinin’s article yesterday about the next San Francisco Symphony season I was dismayed to read that they would be playing in the Symphony Silicon Valley territory. It’s disturbing, frustrating and, to be honest, a bit scary.

I realize a lot of folks I know would just laugh at me; they also don’t mind Starbucks moving in right across from a mom & pop coffee joint. But what can I say? I don’t like seeing the Big Boys move in on us smaller folk. And I also cringe because I know—I’ve heard, so I’m not making this up—San Franciscans think of us as the inferior people living at the bottom of their hill.

Today Richard Scheinin has another article that talks about this issue. It’s an interesting read, and it pointed out that not only will the San Francisco Symphony be playing a free outdoor concert, but their youth symphony is moving into the California Theatre for a concert as well. So now San Jose Youth Symphony is being intruded upon as well.

(Side note: the quote on the front page of SJYS should be credited in my little opinion. The first sentence, “Music begins where words end”, is not originally from Mr. Samet but, from what I read, Goethe. I wonder if anyone realized that!? Do a search on the sentence and you’ll find that a good number of people use it without even hinting it’s not their own creation. Then again, there’s this: “When words leave off, music begins,” credited to Heinrich Heine and “Where words fail, music speaks,” attributed to Hans Christian Andersen. Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about the first quote after all? Seems that a lot of folks are saying the same thing. in slightly different ways.)

But back to my original ramble …

Mr. Scheinin writes:

Still, the San Francisco Symphony has a long history of going on the road in this region. Going back to 1918, it performed at San Jose’s Victory Theater, and at various times through the decades at the San Jose Civic Auditorium and Stanford University’s Frost Amphitheater — where the San Francisco Opera recently piped in a big-screen, live simulcast of Verdi’s “Rigoletto.'”

I’ve not heard of them being in San Jose since I’ve been playing professionally (my professional career began in 1974). In 1918 the San Jose Symphony (RIP) was, from all I’ve read, an amateur group. When I joined it was only becoming what it finally ended up being: a very good regional orchestra. Certainly San Francisco Symphony has played at Flint Center for a long while. Flint Center is in Cupertino. Fine. I can accept that. We played there for a while but I’m just fine with the California Theatre.

Over at City Hall (San Jose) Kim Walesh states:

“You’ve got a world-class symphony that’s actively recruited by great cities and venues all over the world, and if they want to play a free concert downtown that helps to build an audience for classical music, that’s welcome.”

Maybe so. Maybe people will go hear the freebie and say, “Gee, we love classical music after all. But we would prefer to support our own Symphony Silicon Valley and don’t want to drive up to San Francisco. Or maybe the San Francisco folks will say, “Look what a large crowd we have here! We should move to the California Theatre.” Ya think? (Surely they aren’t coming down here merely to give to the community ..? Or maybe they are. Guess time will tell.)

And maybe our new city government will actually care about “their” symphony too. Could that happen? I can dream, can’t I?

We in the Symphony Silicon Valley scrape by. We all have other gigs or even other careers. I teach. I play in Opera San José. I play for AMTSJ. I freelance. And I still don’t make enough to live on. Once San Francisco Symphony moves in on San Jose I fear that San Joseans who still live with the “they are a better and more cultural city” mentality will go over to the SF side.

I hope I’m wrong, of course.