Sept. 23: A new system of projecting English “supertitles” will be introduced by the San Francisco Opera for its October student, senior citizen and family matinee performances of Verdi’s “La Traviata.” The translation, in letters about a foot tall, will be projected on a screen hanging just above the top border over the stage. A spokesman for the San Francisco Opera said the use of supertitles is an experiment and there are no plans to use them during the regular subscription season.


Sept. 21: Dave Brubeck turned down $17,000 in round-trip transportation and performance fees for his quartet for a proposed South African tour in January. “They told us we couldn’t take our bass player, so the deal was off,” Brubeck said. Bassist Gene Wright, who is rejoining the group in time for the Monterey Jazz Festival in October, is black. A letter received from the Johannesburg promoter said: “It is absolutely impossible for (Wright) to come to South Africa. Not only is there an ordinance prohibiting the appearance onstage of a mixed group, but also he would not be allowed in the country, and therefore the tour would have to be without him.”

I read this here. Interesting, no?

But BEST of all? No more squirrel for dinner!:


Sept. 24: Squirrel saute is soon to be a thing of the past if an ordinance recommended by the Board of Health and the Hospital and Health Committee of the Board of Supervisors is adopted. The proposed ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to sell ground squirrels in San Francisco. Health authorities contend that the squirrels are infected with disease, which in some cases has been transmitted to people, causing death in several instances. In practically the entire farming section of the state the ground squirrel is regarded as a pest, owing to the damage it does to crops. Farmers have welcomed market hunters in their pursuit of the squirrels, and millions of the little animals have been sold in cities around the bay, sometimes being served under their own name, but frequently they furnish the meat for rabbit or other game pies. If the proposed ordinance is adopted, the hunters will have to abandon their calling.

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

Paging Jason Heath. Mr. Heath? Thoughts? 😉

Statistically, 50% of bassists have weird hair.

I read it here.

There’s a nice article (Note: Link no longer working.) about the retirement of three brass players of the Boston Symphony. Three in one fell swoop is a lot. (And one retired last January too.) And yes, I think it changes the sound a lot when you get new players.

Certainly a change in the SF Opera caused my ears to perk up a little; I had never heard such perfect unison intonation before in the winds! And there was just something different and magical in what I heard Wednesday night.

It’s not just the instrument you replace. It’s the person. And everyone has their unique ways. I believe our bodies are a part of our instrument and sound. It’s not just the pesky reed, but it’s the inside of our mouth. I can play on someone else’s oboe and someone else’s reed and I’ll still sound like me … or at least I think so! And some even think it’s more than the reed and instrument; some believe it’s our chest and maybe more. Of course it’s also in the way we appoach our instrument, and the desired tone and pitch. Whatever it is, it does make each of us unique, even if it’s in a very small way.

Then, of course, there are also personalities. We all are in a little dance when we work together. Some folks get along well with each other. Some don’t. Some believe they are God’s gift to music, while others of us (!) always fear we are considered hacks by our colleagues. Some think they are the hub of the orchestra, while others prefer being part of the body but no more significant than anyone else. Figuring out how to deal with one another can take time.

Every time we add someone new — even in the little groups I play in — I wonder just what the change will bring. It’s bound to do something, it seems.

We just need more tonal harmony. And I thought the decline was because of bad oboe reeds. Whew!

Americans are turning away from classical music. We see evidence of this in declining ticket sales, mounting orchestral bankruptcies, shrinking CD revenues, and a cut- back in radio programming. In an attempt to explain this shift sociologist-turned-composer Paul Breer points to two recent changes in American culture …… the rise of a new egalitarianism and the erosion of traditional Protestant Ethic values. In this anti-elitist, I-want-it-now environment popular entertainment is increasingly favored over classical music and the other fine arts.

Turning to the music itself, he cites the abandonment of tonal harmony in the early 20th C. as a major cause of classical music’s declining popularity. He argues that if classical music has any chance of winning back its audience, it must return to the harmonic idiom used by composers of the past. Given the intractability of today’s music establishment, the person most likely to do that is the independent, self-taught amateur, aided by recent advances in computer technology. The book concludes with a call for a renaissance in amateur composing.

Who knew it was so simple? But the book has the answer, and it was so easy. “Professional” composers need not read the book, Classical Music’s Last Hope. (No link provided. Sorry.)

And then there’s the opera problem:

I left the opera house thinking, “Why can’t this guy write a straight-out melody?” I mean, this is opera: Shouldn’t there be a single aria that you can whistle on the way out of the hall? It doesn’t have to sound like Puccini; I enjoy, even rely on, all kinds of crazy music. But I would like to remember a tune now and then. Is it low-brow of me to have such an expectation?

More melody is Mr. Scheinin’s request. I know some readers have already gone to The Bonesetter’s Daughter. Was this your complaint as well? Is it that there was no tune to sing on your way home. (To be honest, I had no tune in my head as I left Simon Boccanegra last night.)