SSV doesn’t have a resident conductor. We bring in different conductors and sometimes they return, sometimes not. But SSV’s identity isn’t “Maestro X and the SSV”. I go back and forth on whether I like it or not. (It usually depends on what I think about th ecurrent conductor on the podium when we have a set. And don’t ask me who I like and who I don’t like because I’m not gonna say!) I think it’s helpful to have a face to identify with an orchestra, and I think if we do have a face it should be the conductor. And I think that some conductors are charismatic and carry it off very well, while others don’t have that particular talent even while they can be great on the podium. Audiences seem to like that charisma kind of thing, you know? So do orchestra members when we like the conductor. 😉

I just read this:

Perhaps you’ve seen Maestro Fouad Fakhouri’s likeness on billboards, in brochures and as a life-sized cutout.

But a Fouad Fakhouri bobblehead?

Yep. The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra is selling limited-edition collectible bobbleheads of their music director for $20 a pop. Only 200 were made.

So SSV can’t do this bobblehead thing. Rats. I really like the idea of a conductor bobblehead. I don’t think it works as well to have an orchestra player bobblehead (although it would be funny to own one of myself just for laughs). I read about an orchestra doing trading cards too. That would be a kick.

An orchestra is so much like baseball, you know? Just with better averages and lower salaries. 😉

I read about it here.

There’s a sense [among conductors] of: “Why would I want one black spot in the orchestra? It spoils the view”.

-Paul Gladstone Reid

I read this here. In the US we have, for the most part, behind the screen auditions. Some orchestras remove the screen for finals, but not all do. (The two I’m in keep that screen up.) This is to make sure there isn’t any discrimination. In most places it began to prevent minorities and women from being rejected due to race or gender. (In one orchestra I was in it was more likely to avoid becoming and all female orchestra! 😉

So does the UK not use a screen? Are they really choosing people due to race?

Oh. Wait. (Read the whole thing, Patty!) Yes, they do use screens sometimes.

Okay. so there you go. A screen will mean you can’t determine race. (I’ve always been able to “hear” the gender because of the breathing; women, if you want to disguise your gender breathe lower!)

I think there’s more than one issue that causes the lack of minorities. I doubt one can point a finger at one thing and say, “That’s it!” It doesn’t work that way. But things are changing, as you can see if you look at orchestra pictures from “way back when” and look at them now. It’s a good thing, and I’m happy to see it.

If you read the full article you’ll read what some musicians think about the issue. (And two who are quoted are oboists!)

14. September 2008 · Comments Off on BQOD · Categories: BQOD

True, I can’t say I thought the Opera was great. But there is something almost perversely pleasurable about getting dressed up, sitting next to people in suits and classy even dresses, and watching a classically trained dude sing opera inside a gross rubber fly suit, suspended upside down from the ceiling.


14. September 2008 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

The thing that separates the oboe from most other instruments, in my mind, is that the oboe is not our ally. Playing this instrument is really “us vs. the oboe,” or “us vs. the reed,” struggling to let out what we have inside us despite the oboe’s pathological need to betray us. Keeping it from doing the crazy things it wants to do with accents, phrases, notes that don’t come out…. When it works, it is GOOD … but it is the most frustrating, humiliating instrument sometimes. That doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying. Everyone has had times when things just aren’t working. I’ve lost work because of a few sour notes at a performance, and the contractor took me off of their phone list. I’ve tried to play something that shouldn’t be that hard, and heard nothing but air come out the other end. But we keep at it, because when it works it’s really satisfying, and there’s nothing on earth like it.


When I got to the pit tonight it was 64 degrees. That’s cold, and my oboe let me know very quickly that 64 is not okay. Fortunately it warmed up by the time we played, and I think it was about 68 or 69 for much of the time. But still … why must I get there and freak out over the temperature.

And why is my oboe SO picky about temperature?

Oh. Wait. Maybe it’s so I can whine.

Could my oboe be that sensitive to my needs? Could it know that whining is what I do best? Hmmm.