Great big “BRAVAS” to both Caroline and Rebecca for their solos in tonight’s concert. Rebecca, the Vaughan Williams was lovely and Rebecca, you did a beautiful job on the Dvorak English horn solos. I hope you both are extremely happy! 🙂

01. June 2007 · Comments Off on “Those” Concerts · Categories: imported, Ramble

I’ve played a ton of Pops concerts. Some I liked, some were a total blast to play, some were complete bombs. Mancini was a joy; he knew how to write for an orchestra. Peter Nero was fun (besides, he called me a gazelle way back when I was younger and thinner). Bobby McFerrin can come back any old day. But many, which will go unnamed, were horrendously embarrassing, and trying to play Beatles’ tunes, poorly arranged, with a full symphony orchestra (and no Beatles in sight), just kind of stinks. Big time. We’d occasionally get some big singer come in and play their tunes with them, and so often the orchestration was just lame.

It seems to me, though, that we’ve all tossed Pops concerts out the window. Sort of. Really, they’ve just been re-named; they are now calling them “crossover concerts”. Heh. I think “Pops” appeals to older folks, who have a fondness for Fiedler and the like, so I suppose crossover is something new to try.

In any case, I just read this: With a few prominent exceptions, much of the orchestra and certainly the entire string section seemed completely superfluous.

SO true.


I’m tired of certain words. “Relevant” and “crossover” are at the top of my list.

Truly, a good Pop/Crossover concert is fine and dandy with me. Just don’t give me those stupid orchestrations. And be sure that the orchestra actually matters. (I’ve played for a couple or rock stars and they do the same thing; we are there to be seen, not heard, as if somehow having classical musicians on stage adds something like … hmmm … dare I say this? … class.)

Okay. Ramble over and out. Time to eat and get ready for a concert. I was thinking of going to hear the Irene Dalis Vocal Competition tonight once I found out our son wasn’t in tonight’s theatre production, but I believe SCU Orchestra calls. (Dvorak New World, among other things, and two of my students will be playing. Yay Caroline & Rebecca!)

01. June 2007 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: imported, Quotes

The oboe is above all a melodic instrument; it has a pastoral character, full of tenderness – I might even say, of shyness.

In the tutti of the orchestra the oboe is used, however, without consideration of its timbre; for here it is lost in the ensemble, and its peculiar expression cannot be identified.

Artless grace, pure innocence, mellow joy, the pain of a tender soul – all these the oboe can render admirably with its cantabile. A certain degree of excitement is also within its power; but one must guard against increasing it to the cry of passion, the stormy outburst of fury, menace or heroism; for then its small voice, sweet and somewhat tart at the same time, becomes ineffectual and completely grotesque. Even some of the great masters – Mozart among them – did not avoid this error entirely. In their scores we find passages whose passionate contents and martial accents contrast strangely with the sound of the oboes executing them… The theme of a march, however vigorous, beautiful and noble it may be, loses its nobility, vigor and beauty when played by oboes.

-Hector Berlioz