The San Jose State University Orchestra on Wednesday will premiere two works by student composers, along with a little known Cimarosa concerto played by faculty Oboist Michael Adduci. The concert, conducted by Dr. Janet Averett, will end with the proverbial warhorse of Romantic-Classical masterpieces, Brahm’s Symphony No. 2. Just last year, according to the American Orchestras Annual Ropert, the 132-year-old composition was performed by over 70 different professional orchestras and dozens of student and community ensembles. Those who do not know it are missing out on one of humanity’s finest creations: the music speaks to the full gamut of human emotions, and does so with beauty, drama, and excitement.

Some of my students purchase Mike’s reeds. He’s quite the reed maker, but he’s also a wonderful oboe player. I highly recommend going to hear him play.


09. March 2009 · Comments Off on Don’t Drink & Play · Categories: Links, Ramble

Only once have I had the “joy” of sitting next to someone fairly blasted. It wasn’t fun. At all. (When someone can’t play even 8th notes and you are in thirds with that person it’s really difficult to deal.) This was long ago. I’ve not had it happen again.

It is a hidden, taboo subject, widely known about within the music world but barely discussed. Little research into the area has been done and the full extent of the problem is incompletely understood. But inappropriate use of alcohol in Britain’s great orchestras is, according to musicians, endemic – ranging from drinking a pint before a concert to steady the nerves, to full-blown inebriation on stage.

Speaking at this year’s Association of British Orchestras annual conference, Bill Kerr, the orchestral organiser of the Musicians’ Union, recalled some “regrettable incidents” involving alcohol and musicians. One involved one of the UK’s most celebrated opera and ballet orchestras “and its heavy brass section. They should have been sacked really but they would have been very hard to replace,” he said.

I’m sorry, but no one is indispensable. Maybe the speaker is saying that it was too close to when the players had to go on and they couldn’t be replaced quickly enough. In any case, they probably should have been canned, and certainly should have had some consequences.

I’ve not seen people around here drinking during intermission. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’m missing it. But I think I’d be able to tell. I do recall a conductor who had vodka waiting for him during intermission. (Not someone I’ll ever work with again, not someone I’ll name, and not someone you need to know, so don’t ask.)

And then there’s this:

“For these musicians, there wasn’t anything for them to do – and it was red rag to a bull. You might say that they were grownups but there was no where for them to go. They rebelled. It got out of hand. It’s indefensible and reprehensible – but it is human nature.”

OH. Okay. “Human nature.” Um. Really? When I have nowhere to go I read, listen to the music, rest, work on reeds …. Okay, okay, forget the reed part.

Now I do enjoy my nights and weeks off, as I know that I may then enjoy a glass of wine. But before a concert? It’s just not wise. What we do is difficult enough, and I have to stay focused. Or at least try to stay focused.

But like I wrote earlier, maybe I’m naive. Maybe you all are now laughing at me. But would that be anything new? 😉

To read the whole article go here. Read the authors blog entry too.

09. March 2009 · Comments Off on Instrument Horror Stories · Categories: Links, Ramble

Bruce, over at Horndog, has a Monday blog entry that not only the links to the, as it turned out, drunk horn player (see yesterday’s video), but to an instrument horror story Julia Rose tells us about. And it’s her very own instrument, too.

Ah, the horror stories. I believe nearly everyone has them. Some are big, some are huge.

Mine? I can’t think of any that are horrendous. I remember turning a few screws a few days prior to a recital (and I knew nothing about adjusting an instrument. What was I thinking?!), and having to quickly take it in for rescue. But that was just my stupidity, since the act actually was deliberate. Falling on, sitting on, or dropping an instrument is another story all together.

Oh … and speaking of deliberate (or not!) … I remember something going awry at a concert. My Bs came out as B flats. (Sticky key.) After the solo, the EH was passed over to our principal oboist who quickly fixed the issue. I was 19 or so at the time, and pretty freaked out. Sadly, a local conductor thought I had deliberately played the B flat; a colleague who was taking a conducting class from her told me about the next class he had, where she mentioned an “English horn player deliberately playing a wrong note throughout a solo”. Geesh! Since when would someone deliberately play a wrong note in a solo? Now that was pretty crummy — both the malfunctioning instrument and the conductor deciding I was that awful of a person. (It was a contemporary piece, though — Lou Harrison, actually — and some audience members didn’t even have a clue.)

I also recall a really horrible awful no good instrument horror story from high school. A lot of us carpooled to “solo ensemble festival”. We pulled into a parking space right next to another car of our classmates. A sax player (gee, I ever remember his name, although I’ve not seen him since 1974: Paul Caltigirone), while laughing somewhat hysterically, motioned for us to stop, saying, “My saxophone is there!” pointing to the parking space. But he was laughing. Hard. How were we to know he was serious?

Fortunately I wasn’t driving. (I remember the driver, too, but I’ll keep him nameless.) Fortunately someone else loaned him a sax and when you’re young and easy going (he was definitely an easy going sax player, not an oboist!) a different instrument isn’t that big of a deal. Fortunately he was extremely gracious to the driver. Fortunately he still received his blue ribbon (if I’m remembering correctly).

Mostly … and this is for you, Dave Camwell … fortunately it was a sax. 😉

Tee hee.

Now REED horror stories? Yep. I’ve got ’em. Sigh.

09. March 2009 · Comments Off on Happy Birthday · Categories: Birthdays!

Happy Birthday to Samuel Barber. And thank you for some great music, including your Violin Concerto (here is the second movement, beginning with that incredible oboe solo):

09. March 2009 · 3 comments · Categories: BQOD

On a blog I found someone complaining about how long his or her reeds last. The writer is talking English horn reeds, mind you:

I practice so hard, that my reeds usually wear out in 2 to 3 months, not as long as one year as people “commonly known”.

Um … 2 or 3 months is a pretty long time. Granted, EH reeds last longer than oboe reeds, but it sounds like this person thinks an EH reeds should last a year. Not likely!