23. September 2007 · Comments Off on Opera, Over and Out · Categories: Ramble

We finished up the run of Lucia di Lammermoor this afternoon. I really do think this was one of our best runs. Maybe I’m wrong (Who? Me?), but it just felt right, the singers were strong, and, well, I had fun! (It is about the oboe, right?) Our audiences were all enthusiastic … more than I’ve ever seen, actually.

So with opera over, I can focus entirely on the symphony set. I have a recital coming up as well, where I’ll be playing English horn on Copland’s Quiet City. That is just going to have to wait until I’m done with principal oboing this week. (Yes, “oboing” is a word. My invention. Nice, eh?)

Before the start of symphony I begin at UCSC. I’m actually looking forward to the week. Beginnings are nice!

23. September 2007 · Comments Off on Music in Bagdad · Categories: News

“I’ve been dreaming of this my whole life,” said pianist Zuhal Sultan, 16, one of 10 students who fill in during rehearsals because of the difficulty of getting all 70 musicians to central Baghdad for the Saturday and Tuesday sessions.

She lost her parents in the last four years, one to violence, one to illness. Her older brothers worry about her crosstown trips to rehearsal, she says. But like many here, music is her balm.

“We’re lucky to be musicians,” Zuhal said. “We can express ourselves through music, whether we are sad or happy or any other feeling. Playing with this orchestra brings me joy.”


23. September 2007 · Comments Off on What Would You Change? · Categories: Ramble

Clapping: The protocol is that you do not clap during a full performance of a multi-movement piece, such as a symphony or concerto, until the work is completely finished. The logic is that applause breaks the audience and musicians’ concentration.

This is the classical concert convention I would most like to see drop-kicked out of the concert hall.


So how about readers here? What would you change? What would you keep?

Me? Well, I have a few things I guess …

Clothing: I’d go for all black, no tails or tuxes for men on stage. I mean all black; no white shirts. I just like the look better. For the less formal concerts I’d say solid color shirts/blouses would be cool too. But no white. (Heck, I can’t keep white clean!)

Clapping: Meh. Clap if it seems appropriate, but a little knowledge is helpful; if the work is attacca clapping can kind of ruin things, you know? Maybe someone needs to clue an audience in on this sort of thing beforehand, rather than correcting them during a performance. It would be easy for a conductor to turn around prior to the start of a work and say, “For this work we’d really love silence until the very end” … and she or he could even explain why.

The WALL: Not all orchestras observe this, but I remember when San Jose Symphony players were told we couldn’t go up to the apron and talk to audience members before the performance or during intermission. It was something about “not being professional”. Well, I say take the wall down in any way possible. Heck, why can’t we talk to audience members? It doesn’t ruin anything … does it?

I’m sure I’ll think of more. Right now my brain is on idle and my headache is on a sort of 10 mph sort of thing. What with opera this afternoon it’s time to take it easy.

I just found this site, by and about Pedro Díaz. He is the solo English hornist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. The site includes a page of tips for the English hornist. Pretty cool.

Mr. Díaz corresponded with me at one point some time ago. He was very kind and polite, and I was impressed, as not all those top notch players will take time to yak with the likes ‘o me. 🙂

Now … will he start a blog? That would be great fun.

23. September 2007 · Comments Off on Composing for The Simpsons · Categories: Quotes, Ramble

I have a very, very deep love for Broadway musicals, and I’m a big jazz lover, a big-band lover, I like contemporary classical works.

-Alf Clausen (RTWT)

… and you can tell all of this if you listen to the music on The Simpsons.

I don’t often watch the show any more—maybe it has something to do with no kids in the house?—but we used to watch it a lot, and I especially loved the musical theatre parodies. Great fun. My only big disappointment? I wish Lisa played oboe. I mean … it’s just so nerdy and all and wouldn’t it have been fun? But I guess playing sax was sort of genius; it’s NOT nerdy, and yet Lisa plays it. Go figure.

So maybe Bart should play oboe? Or Homer. Just not Marge. Please. No one with hair like that should play oboe.

23. September 2007 · Comments Off on Appomattox · Categories: Links, Quotes

“It’s very dark,” he says. “It’s war. Is there anything worse?”


(Reminder to self: Two ps, one m, two ts. Question to self: Do I need an apostrophe before the s?)

We won’t be at opening night, but we will be at one of the performances. I’m quite excited about this!

23. September 2007 · Comments Off on What Century Are We In? · Categories: Links, Ramble

Mr. Mortier is confident that he can win New Yorkers to 20th-century material. In Paris, he said, he often gives introductory talks in the lobby 45 minutes before the curtain, to whoever wants to listen, and he plans to do the same in New York. “Everyone can love Stravinsky and Janácek,” he said. “When you talk to them for 20 minutes, they go with a different attitude into the theater.”


Isn’t it funny; we are in the 21st century, and we are still trying to “get” 20th century music. Or maybe it’s not funny. Maybe it’s just curious? I dunno. (And yeah, there are still works I don’t get. I can be slow that way! I can be slow in a lot of ways.)

I do like much of what Mr. Mortier is doing in NYC with NYCO. Some of it would be fun to do here, although we only do four operas, we already have a nearly full house every night, and we don’t do much contemporary or even 20th century music. So what to do?

I know!!

A summer series. Contemporary music. And 20th century too. More compact than our spread out over four weeks operas right now. Including some Sondheim, Copland, Bernstein in with the mix, or maybe making a complete American series. Everything in English, even. Maybe chamber operas? Hmm. Just tossing out ideas.

Could it happen?

Well, I guess I’m doubtful. Nothing much happens in San Jose over the summer. Jazz, yes. But does anything else go on downtown? AMTSJ pretty much shuts down (unless they bring in a tour). SSV shuts down. And OSJ shuts down. All sorts of letters shut down, eh?