Since I was writing about Nutcracker, and Cooper joined in the conversation, mentioning the low Bs and the sliding as well, I thought I’d show some of you what we are talking about … AND the different order in which some of our music appears here in San Jose.

Let’s start with the first low D# to B (& back again) slide, which you see on the bottom staff of this page:

(And yes, I really don’t play the first three notes of the solo, as they are cut. You’ll noticed, too, that we are coming from a different part of the work … we have lots of re-ordered parts in our Nutcracker.)


As you can see, too, I have 2 1/2 measures to get back to oboe, and even then I’m leaving out a few notes that should happen before what you see in the 2nd oboe, since it’s impossible to get them in. Here is the very next page:

More oboe2/EH parts for Nuts

Another big solo in our first act is preceded by a second oboe part that I play instead on English horn:


But the first act really isn’t a huge deal. It’s the beginning of the second act that is the killer. Here’s the first page (and see all those repeated F#s? I always have fun playing it all in one breath … it’s just a bit of a game for me). Look at the measure prior to the crossed out first ending … more of the low B to D# and then C# back to B. Try it … it’s sort of a bit of fun, really. (I switch from regular D# to left D# as I hold the note, so I free up my right pinkie for the C#.)


But that page is just a big blow and not a killer. Check out this next part though … on the very next page. I have an English horn solo that ends on a low B, and I have to switch from that to an oboe duet (this is from Cappricio Italien) in fewer than 8 beats. I always have to remember to have the oboe ready to go before we begin the act. If not, I’m dead.


But wait! I’m not done yet. After playing the remaining bit of the page above (not completely in the photo), I move on to this:

Nutcracker oboe2/EH part

Yes. I switch from oboe 2 back to English horn, playing the final oboe 2 parts on English horn (thus the hand written portion on that page), and we go directly from Capriccio Italien to “Le Café” (often called the Arabian Dance). And yes, we really do repeat the oboe 1 and English horn solos toward the end.

So maybe now you’ll know what I’m talking about with my crazy whining about low Bs and funny switches and all, eh?

But I’m never bored. I can promise you that! And while I whine I’m actually okay with all of this.

I just like to whine. 😉

11. December 2009 · Comments Off on Thirteenth Day of Advent · Categories: Advent

So the Nuts have begun. I’ve played one rehearsal and one performance at this point. Yes, one rehearsal But trust me, I know this work! I had to skip the first rehearsal because I’m not playing the final two performances and my sub needed to get a crack at it. (Hah! get it? A “crack” at it. Man, I’m subtle. Or maybe just a NUT. Oh dear. Sorry. I’ll stop now.) Last night was opening night, and while I played fine I had a rough night. I just felt “off” … (I know, I know, many of you say it’s clear I’m always “off”!). If I played and supported in my usual way I felt a bit sick to my stomach … and today is a dizzy day.

Ever since my major health issue of last year (you can read about the start of that here) I have these. They don’t come anywhere close to how awful that particular virus was, but they remind me that I’m simply not back to “normal” … and I wonder if I ever will be. So I’m staying home, and I’m not moving around a whole heck of a lot. Such is life.

Playing the Nut isn’t like it used to be. I was talking about this to a colleague last night. We were remembering the years of stress. Our parts have some rather significant solos, and it took a number of years to not be a bit nervous about them. Now I’m not nervous at all. That doesn’t mean the solos aren’t difficult, because they do have their challenges (what was Tchaikovsky thinking with those low Bs, eh? And having to slide to them … geesh!). And it doesn’t mean I don’t take the work seriously, because I most certainly do. The day I don’t care I hope I quit. I just don’t fret or cry over things anymore, and my heart doesn’t try to pound its way out of my body as it used to. I actually enjoy trying to think of things to do with the solos. (I”m guessing no one else notices if I hold this or that note in a slightly different way, but it’s just fun and keeps me on my toes after playing various Nutcrackers for — what? — probably over 30 years now!) I do whine a bit but, truth be told, the music is actually good. The other day I switched on the radio and heard some lovely music. It actually took me a moment to realize I was hearing a selection from the Nutcracker! Go figure.

11. December 2009 · Comments Off on This Makes Me Nervous · Categories: Oboe, Videos

Anyone know what I’m talking about when I say “soft palette”?

I don’t recommend playing oboe and hopping up and down. Could mean a very big OUCH.

I guess I need to warn students of this; I honestly don’t think about it much. I tell them we never march with an oboe, but I don’t talk about goofing off with an oboe. I just assume they know better.

And please know I don’t mean to criticize whoever posted this. It just makes me very, very nervous.

11. December 2009 · Comments Off on Janet Archibald … & Others Too! · Categories: Concert Announcements

The Lowell Trio After Christmas Concert

Janet Popesco Archibald, oboe & English Horn
Margaret Wong Fondbertasse, piano
special guest
Emil Miland, cello

Help us celebrate the end of the year with some of our favorite Classical pieces, including works by J. S. Bach, Handel, Berlioz, Shostakovitch & more!

Sunday, December 27, 2009 3:00pm
Armando’s, 707 Marina Vista Av, Martinez, CA
$8.00 cover charge