Today we had only one Nutcracker, and tomorrow is a day off. (So what am I doing tomorrow? Teaching five students. Go figure!) This was the fourth Nutcracker in three days. That’s really not a huge deal … in past years we’ve had doubles on both Saturday and Sunday. I do enjoy having my Sunday evening off (although the Sunday afternoon performance meant I skipped church yet again. Sigh.). As you might recall, I blogged about neglectin my “idiot check” on Friday night. Rest assured that both Saturdays performances and today’s had my More Favored Reeds. (But — ACK! — I do believe the More Favored Reeds are dying quick deaths. Figures.)

Today was a different issue.

We got to “Big Number 5” (if you have the same parts we have) and this is my first low D# to low B back to low D#. So before starting, I do the nose grease on the pinkie thing (if you don’t know what I’m talking about you probably aren’t an oboist and you probably don’t really need to know!). I slid several times from the D# key to the B before I started to play, just to make sure the finger slid easily. But wait! I get to that moment and my brains says, “Patty, you have absolutely no clue how to finger this!” Really. It didn’t say it out loud, but it said it loud and clear for my brain to deal with. So what did I do? Well, I used the banana key! (Again, if you aren’t an oboist or English hornist this is sort of meaningless to you.) Now the banana key DOES work, but I never use it, and it’s not as reliable as a nice clean slide. So the low B wasn’t as responsive and clear as I’d like.

Never a dull moment.

There was another moment I wasn’t thrilled with. But we’ll leave that alone for now. Mostly I was just shocked by the brain freeze. (I know some of you call these something else, but I do prefer brain freeze, as it really does feel as if my brain is suddenly frozen or locked up.)

And now I’m home, and watching San Francisco Symphony and MTT doing Ives’ “New English Holidays”. Crazy Ives! When I first started playing English horn in San Jose Symphony (RIP) we did an Ives that, at one point, has the orchestra blasting away playing a number of different things (I think it’s a parade of sorts? … it’s been a LONG time! Maybe a reader will fill me in?). All of the sudden everyone stops and there is a lone English horn (me) playing a long held note. I was, at that point, not as tuned in to the EH and the key of F, and I was always surprised by the note that was sounding as I expected the pitch you’d hear on a C instrument. I’m sure I’d be missing that surprise now, and I’m sort of sorry; that was always a fun little moment.

This is part of San Francisco Symphony series called Keeping Score. It’s a series I highly recommend.

There are six more Nutcracker performances left, of which I play four; originally I had thought we’d be out of town for the final two so I submitted my absence request. This didn’t turn out to be the case, but I had to turn my notice in early enough that I didn’t know plans would be different. So oh well! I’ll be done early, and a sub will get some extra work. So … well … “it’s all good.” (I’ve decided “it’s all good” means “nothin’ to be done!”)

And … WOW … just at the part of the Ives with choir. Incredible! I’d love to do this work! And now I suppose I should get the DVD because this is really amazing!

20. December 2009 · Comments Off on Sunday Evening Music · Categories: Sunday Evening Music

Mary was the first one

20. December 2009 · Comments Off on Sunday Evening Music · Categories: Sunday Evening Music

Bach: Quia fecit mihi magna from the Magnificat

20. December 2009 · Comments Off on Twenty Second Day of Advent · Categories: Advent

20. December 2009 · Comments Off on Sunday Morning Music · Categories: Sunday Morning Music

Bach: Quia respexit, Omnes generationes from the Magnificat

20. December 2009 · Comments Off on Vancouver Symphony Says “No” · Categories: News

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has turned its back on the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics after Games organizers requested the orchestra prerecord the music.

The symphony’s conductor, Bramwell Tovey, told the Globe and Mail that officials with the Vancouver Olympics organizing committee, known as VANOC, said the prerecorded music would be mimed by others during the opening gala Feb. 12.

“I felt it was dishonest. I thought it was fraudulent,” Tovey told the newspaper.

“It’s promoted with public money, and I didn’t want anything to do with this kind of dishonest practice.”


I do wonder if the bigger issue was that a different conductor would be doing the miming. Yeah. I’m that kind of skeptical.

The decision came after Tovey, who has led the VSO since 2000, was asked to conduct the recording session, but then was told another conductor would mime his performance at the ceremonies.


But wait! There’s more:

The public applause was deafening when Maestro Bramwell Tovey refused to play along with VANOC’s tune this week — and now 2010 Games organizers have apologized for asking him to.

Tovey, the famed conductor of the Grammy-winning Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, slammed the 2010 group for asking his orchestra to pre-record a performance for the opening ceremonies of the Games — and then planning for another conductor to “mime” his part of the soundtrack during the internationally broadcast show.

Saturday, after Tovey and the orchestra received a two-day, standing-ovation-like response for turning VANOC down, 2010 officials issued a statement apologizing “for putting the orchestra in an untenable position regarding the opening ceremonies.”


The one odd thing that stands out to me is that I’m not seeing any orchestra members’ comments on this whole thing. Weird.