I dunno. I think trying to convince folks that opera is cool and hip and not stuffy by saying certain things just … I dunno … it just doesn’t work for me.

Opera is hip, young and not as stuffy as its reputation would lead you to believe.

Recently I’ve read so many articles about how this soloist or that company is out to show how we aren’t stuffy. Or we aren’t snobby. Or we are accessible.


Maybe we should market differently, though. Maybe we should say we are only for the elite and that certain people should just skip attempting to like what we do. Maybe we should say, “You probably won’t understand it anyway. Don’t show up.” Maybe we should say, “This is only for people with high IQs.”

Maybe then more people would, in a fit of defiance, want to show up.

Okay. Maybe not. I guess it’s just that I’m really weary of hearing about how we are trying to appeal to the masses. Maybe we don’t appeal to the masses. Maybe that’s why it’s not called popular music.

NOT that I’m saying I don’t want to see new faces. And I love the idea of nixing certain things (like those tails our poor men have to suffer in!). I would like to be able to connect more directly with the audience (although I’m not the sort to get up and talk; not my style). I’m not saying we have to do everything in the same old way we’ve been doing it since I began this career in 1975.

Ramble ramble over and out.

13. January 2008 · Comments Off on Which is worse? · Categories: Havin' Fun

1) Hannah Montana using a body double
2) Me, not having a double reed


Tough decision, eh?

(Of course I would never want a body double. I suspect that the double’s body is supposed to look like mine. I’d grimace every time I looked at her. I would prefer to have a body substitute. I much thinner, younger, non-cellulite body substitute. Yes. Indeed.)

Okay … in all honesty … I have heard the name “Hannah Montana” but I haven’t got a clue who she is or what she does. So I wouldn’t know a body double if one stared me in the face. But then I wouldn’t know Hannah Montana if she stared me in the face either. I guess I’m really out of touch with the real world, eh?

13. January 2008 · Comments Off on Feeling Rattled? · Categories: Announcements, Links

Maybe this is why:

Mr. Maazel, speaking during a news conference on Thursday at Avery Fisher Hall that released details of the 2008-9 programs, also let drop a bombshell that will rattle the woodwind world: Mr. Drucker, who will be celebrating his 60th year with the orchestra — one of the longest tenures in American orchestral history — will retire after next season.

Hmmm. The guy has been playing for 60 years? Seems like it would be no surprise that he’d retire. I’m not feeling rattled at all. But then I don’t play clarinet. Maybe only clarinet players get rattled. The rest of us woodwinds might be a calmer sort. (Hah! I wrote “weedwinds” first. Hmmm.)

Mr. Drucker, who turns 79 next month, has performed the Copland concerto 64 times with the Philharmonic.

Wow. 79. 64. Impressive numbers.


13. January 2008 · Comments Off on Huh? · Categories: Links

As we ate, Vickie’s English-horn clock plunked out an Elvis tune; then her grandfather clock chimed in. A cuckoo clock is also part of her household soundtrack. (Read here)

I haven’t a clue what an “English horn clock” is, but I think I want one.

13. January 2008 · Comments Off on Conductors and Rehearsal Style · Categories: Links, Ramble

Charles Noble blogs about conductors. It’s a good read. Which isn’t as important as a good reed, but whatever.

I’ve played under a lot of conductors, and of course they vary greatly when it comes to rehearsal styles.

Some talk and talk and talk and I want to say, “C’mon. Let’s play already!” Others don’t talk at all, but glower and grimace and don’t say anything about why and I want to scream, “Well, if you don’t like it, tell us why!” Sometimes, when I have a huge solo, I get absolutely no feedback from the conductor. To some musicains “no news is good news” but to me it means the conductor is so underwhelmed he or she can’t even think of one thing to say. (Yeah, I’m insecure that way. You aren’t surprised are you?) Some run through the major work at the first rehearsal, and I tend to like that approach just because going through it right away fills me in (if it’s a new work) one where the surprises are; studying a work doesn’t necessarily fill us in on everything. For instance, sometimes I don’t know that an entrance is going to be horribly difficult just by looking at a score or listening to the work. I need to feel what it’s like for myself.

I want a conductor to correct intonation. This rarely happens. I want a conductor to require us to play dynamics. We all seem to excel at forte but the much more difficult pianissimo doesn’t seem to happen all that often. I want a conductor who gets us to listen to each other, not just be linked so strongly to his or her baton that we need not worry at all about what is going on around us. I want a conductor who has an internal metronome (with flexibility allowed, of course) so that we aren’t all horribly surprised at the first concert when suddenly everything is twice as fast or, worse yet, twice as slow. It’s also good if the conductor knows the score. Go figure. I want a conductor who gets through all the works so that by the dress we can actually run the concert in concert order! (Some conductors rearrange the dress rehearsal and I really don’t like that; I want to know how my mouth is going to feel by the end, and how a particular solo will feel when played all in the correct order. When we don’t work in concert order I’m not always sure just what I’m in for.) I want a demanding but respectful conductor … who can manage to keep us quiet too! (We are so darn noisy—yours truly included—sometimes I’m rather embarrassed. But I don’t understand why our conductors don’t tell us to shut up. In a nice way, of course.)

I’d also like a conductor to make oboe reeds, but I suppose I can only ask so much.

Some conductors we’ve had are far too gentle and nice. I suspect they want to be asked back; we don’t have a full time conductor, so they all know they could be asked back if they appeal to the audience, management or orchestra. (No, sometimes they don’t appeal to the orchestra and they’ll still be asked back because the audience went nuts over ’em.) Some come back and as they get used to us they do start to show a bit more of their true colors. That’s always … um … interesting!

What I find even more interesting, though, is that no matter what I think about a conductor, there will be colleagues with completely different opinions. Someone I might rank as a “10” will be ranked as a “1” or even “-10” (well, we don’t really rank that way!) by someone else. I used to think the strings just thought differently than the winds, but the disagreements don’t seem to be section related for the most part. We instrumentalists just tend to see things in our own special ways.

Of course my way is the right way. Just so you know.

13. January 2008 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

Good old Rachmaninov. The Second Piano Concerto. Never misses.

-Richard Sherman (played by Tom Ewell in Seven Year Itch)

Then, in Richard Sherman’s imagination, spoken by “The Girl”:

Rachmaninoff…It isn’t fair…Every time I hear it, I go to pieces…It shakes me, it quakes me. It makes me feel goose-pimply all over. I don’t know where I am or who I am or what I’m doing. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop!

but later … in reality …

This is what they call classical music, isn’t it? I can tell because there is no vocal.

and finally … when they play chopsticks together …

I don’t know about Rachmaninoff and this shakes you and quakes you stuff, but this really gets me…and how…I can feel the goose pimples…Don’t stop. Don’t stop.

-“The Girl” (played by Marilyn Monroe in Seven Year Itch)