29. October 2007 · Comments Off on Hah! · Categories: Links, Other People's Words

…we were playing the ever-popular “Guess Who I’m Thinking About” at the dinner table. As it happens, the person I’d chosen was Mike Lowell. Daughter of MMmusing had already made several guesses to determine gender, grown-upness, famousness, etc. Then, she said, “Is he a composer?” I said, “No,” to which she responded, “Oh, that’s right. You said he’s living. All the composers are dead.”

29. October 2007 · Comments Off on Dancing To The Music? · Categories: Links, Ramble

Daniel Levitin thinks that audiences should get up and dance to classical music performances.

While I understand that the stiffness and formality of a concert bothers some people, I wonder about the listening that can take place when people are busy dancing away. Or does listening not matter any more?

Using history to bolster his case doesn’t work for me. You can use history for all sorts of justifications then, right? Does history make it correct?

Levitin also says:

Children often demonstrate this nature at classical music concerts, swaying and shouting and generally participating when they feel like it. We adults then train them to act “civilized.” The natural tendency toward movement is thus so internalized, it is manifest in concert halls only as a mild swaying of heads. But our biology hasn’t changed — we would probably have more fun if we moved freely.

Hmmm. Children do a lot of things. Some of which have to be reigned in. Go figure.

But maybe I’m totally off base. Maybe I should change my ways.

Besides, if everyone is busy making a lot of noise a missed attack wouldn’t matter at all. Bad reeds? Who cares if you can’t hear them!

Hmmm. I think I’m going to change my stance!

29. October 2007 · Comments Off on Music In Iraq · Categories: Links

I’m not sure how I missed the SLSO Marc Thayer blog entries in the summer about music in Iraq, but they are now here.

In addition, there is this article about the “world’s bravest orchestra.” Indeed.

29. October 2007 · Comments Off on Steve Carell · Categories: Quotes, Ramble

I feel much more comfortable being surrounded by people who are much more talented than I am.

-Steve Carell (when asked if he’d do a one man show)

Carell continued to say things that often run through my own head. Funny how that works, eh? Not that I’m suggesting that I’m as talented as he, but I find it interesting that the things coming out of his mouth were precisely what I feel. He talks about just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Being a glass half empty person. All that. Ah yes. And that it’s really a protective thing.

Later …

“I’m writing a symphony. Why not? In my spare time,” (said in a very self mocking way).

Hah … too funny, that man!

29. October 2007 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

A musician’s life is full of questions, strains, uncertainty, and utter splendor.

-James Roe (found here)

So the recital is over. And I’m pleased with how I played. Really. Saying that is, for me, one huge deal. But I had fun, and I do believe I played well. I felt as if I was making music … and that is the #1 most important thing of all, yes? (I don’t mean “making music” as in “I played the right notes and rhythms” but in the being expressive and shaping things and all that jazz.)

Our audience wasn’t huge, but it was better than sometimes and seemed appreciative. I saw one former student there (Hi Sara!) but if any of my current UCSC students were there they left before I got up to the reception. Hmmm. I do hope they showed up. I’m a bit befuddled by students who want to study and play oboe, but don’t bother to hear their teacher perform. I’m really hoping I just missed them!

Anyway, now that it’s over I’m somewhat sad; the two works we played were so enjoyable to both play and hear. I will miss them.

Thanks, Becky, for the email. I’m so happy to hear that one of my students was able to attend. 🙂

28. October 2007 · Comments Off on My Attitude · Categories: Ramble

… needs adjustment. And I know it. But there you go.

I’m not going to post something twice, so if you want to see “where I’m at” at the moment, just go here.

Nerves are a rotten thing.


I just read this: “Getting young children started on music is a great way for them to have fun and develop early mathematical skills.”

I was never good at math. I have frequently read statements similar to the one above, and I don’t get it; some of my “math whiz” oboe students couldn’t count (and had no sense of rhythm) to save their lives! Others, who tell me math is their worst subject, are wonderful at rhythm, and counting is no issue at all.

So I’m puzzled. Which is pretty typical. But there you go.

28. October 2007 · Comments Off on Is It Live · Categories: Links, Ramble

… or is it “sort of live but not quite but it will sound stunning”?

The oboist’s query
He drops by the control room after the performance to consult with Neubronner. The night before, Bennett’s first note in a key solo had been a mite flat. He wants to know how it came through tonight. Neubronner hesitates; he doesn’t like to criticize performers immediately after a performance (it’s when they are “most vulnerable,” he told me earlier). But, pressed by Bennett, he concedes the note was a little sharp.
Bennett is OK with this; he had wondered and needs to know. Because in this high-level performance world, the idea of realizing the score, even for an instrumentalist of Bennett’s stature, is an ideal that’s hard to reach and a matter of subjective judgment.
“Subjectively, there’s no way you can know how well you played,” he tells me a few minutes later. “Like last night, I felt really great after the concert, and I didn’t talk to Michael” – Tilson Thomas – “because I didn’t want to burst that bubble in any way.” (RTWT)

Richard Sheinin has been doing a series in the Merc about the live recording sessions of SF Symphony’s Das Lied. It’s been quite interesting.

Live performances aren’t exactly what some might think these days. There is a lot of “cutting and pasting” so to speak. What they are striving for is the “perfect live performance”. Of course hearing recordings one hears all the little problems that don’t come out as strongly in a concert hall, or don’t really matter in the concert hall as they might on a recording. (I suppose it’s kind of like Dan’s pictures; what he puts together is what he—Dan, correct me if I’m wrong—sees in his mind’s eye … what he remembers to be the truth of it all. It’s not dishonest, but it’s not just a quick print from a photo either.) I’m sure some will disagree with me. But that’s not unusual, is it? 🙂

Anyway, read the articles and you’ll get a glimpse into the recording studio of the SFS.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

28. October 2007 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

Esoteric as it may seem, the supposed fraud shows up the flaws of a classical blogosphere that trades in unchecked trivia. Classical blogs are spreading but their nutritional value is lower than a bag of crisps. Unlike financial blogs, which yield powerful and profitable secrets, classical web-chat is opinion-rich and info-poor. Until bloggers deliver hard facts and estate agents turn into credible critics, paid-for newspapers will continue to set the standard as only show in town.

-Norman Lebrecht