17. January 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: Watch

A fun video … from the Liverpool St Train station …

And it was a mystery why Abbado put the orchestra’s superstar principal oboist, Elizabeth Koch, on ice for the Brahms. (She sat with the audience to listen.)

In her place, associate principal Yvonne Powers Peterson got the second movement’s long, tender oboe solo that’s perhaps the most moving and eloquent melody Brahms ever wrote. Peterson played it with warmth and elegance —- we’ve got a strong oboe section, that’s for certain.

I read it here.

It does seem odd that the principal oboist wouldn’t play the Brahms, since that oboe solo is so wonderful and clearly a big time solo. But I wonder who did the choosing here. Does the conductor make those decisions, or did Ms. Koch opt out for some reason? There are times a principal oboist might say, “I really want to do “x” and so I just feel it best to skip out on “y”.” I wonder.

I have a story about the Brahms. It’s funny. Now.

Years ago we were doing the Brahms Violin Concerto along with a few other works. I was on English horn and third oboe, so I wasn’t needed for the Brahms. (I can’t even remember what the other works on the program were now.) At our third and final concert the principal oboist (a sub who was filling in on the set) didn’t show up. We waited a bit, but finally things had to get going. Because the first work on the program needed all three of us they reversed the first two works, and the Brahms was now first. Yours truly suddenly was asked to fill in on principal. Whoa. Okay then. Breathe deep. Freak out for a short time. And jump in. The conductor was encouraging and helpful throughout the first movement. I was really enjoying myself, and entirely geared up and confident to play the second movement at that point. It’s a piece I’d played before, I knew the solo quite well, and I was no longer nervous.

No. Such. Luck.

Between the first and second movements the subbing principal oboist showed up. He walked in, stood in front of me, and waited for me to move. I looked up at the conductor who just kind of shrugged and looked at me apologetically. How embarrassing to stand up and leave the stage after that. I wonder if the audience thought I’d been canned. It was humiliating.

Turned out that the oboist insisted on coming on, and the stage manager thought it best.

Maybe it was. Maybe that’s how those things are handled. I dunno. But it sure wasn’t a high point in m career. Later the maestro apologized to me.

The subbing principal oboist never apologized. He never even said one word to me, in fact.

Today is the anniversary of my start in blogging. I began this site before using WordPress, so the compilation of old posts is where you can read my very first yawn-inducing post. Since then I’ve provided many more yawns, I’m sure. I hope I’ve also managed to make some folks laugh and perhaps taught some readers a thing or two. I’m sure I’ve puzzled some readers. I know I’ve angered a few (those readers are most often quite willing to send me a comment or note and let me know; some have reprimanded me in a way that really shook me.). Some loyal readers have been here for a long time (oh you patient people … I do thank you!). And I’m guessing many have come and gone in a flash.

Hearing from readers is nearly always encouraging. Even if a reader disagrees with me, it’s fun to get a conversation going. (The angry, harsh ones … well … not so encouraging.) If I never heard from a soul I suppose I would finally throw in the towel. Or the oboe. Something.

Why blog? I really do wonder sometimes. (And I go through my “I should quit” phases more and more frequently.)

When Dan suggested I begin a blog I said, “Why?” I didn’t begin one right after that; I’m slow to take advice, as Dan knows. But it did become addictive. A friend said it was an egotistical thing to do — assuming that what I write is of interest to anyone else probably is egotistical.

But I began the blog because I thought some people might want an inside look at this crazy business I’m in. I began because I had a few things I thought students would be interested in (see the left sidebar). I began because I was reading other blogs (see right sidebar) and wanted to share those blogs with other readers. And I blog because I used to wish I could be a writer, but I knew I lacked the talent and intellect to be a published writer.

I think blogging is also therapeutic. When I’m feeling rotten about my playing it helps me puzzle over things. It helps me vent, too. I do wonder about my poor students — they have to read about all my insecurities. Is that a good thing? Hmmm. Perhaps not. Audience members might read about them too, which isn’t a great thing I guess, but I don’t believe there are audience members reading this blog at this point. (There were a few before WordPress, but I’ve not heard from them for a very long time.) It might be bad, too, to have reviewers read this blog. I dunno. I guess I just can’t worry about all of that. I have too many other things I can worry about!

Right now it’s English horn reeds.

What a surprise.