I received very sad news earlier today. Saxophonist Bill Trimble died around 5:30 PM Monday, following a heart attack on Saturday.

I really enjoyed working with Bill. He and I played on the CD MIKEY; The Works of Michael Touchi (Tango Barocco, for English horn, soprano sax, and strings). We worked together in both San Jose Symphony and Symphony Silicon Valley, and he taught at San Jose State when I attended there. He was a fun guy, and a warm and honest man. He will be missed.

A female conductor is an interesting thing, because it first of all challenges the idea of a conductor as a dictatorial, dominant force, and maybe it reinforces the idea of a conductor as someone who is sharing a musical idea with people.

-Stephen Hough

Is Mr. Hough suggesting a woman won’t (can’t?) be a “dictatorial, dominant force”? What am I missing here? (I easily miss things.)

I read it here, in an article about women conductors. It also includes this:

I would never ever limit myself to thinking of somebody based on sexual priority, or being a man or woman, or young or old. It’s just not important. Music is as close as we get to God in this living world. This is an international language that everyone, somehow, understands.

-Anu Tali

22. February 2010 · Comments Off on More On Rusty Musicians · Categories: Symphony, Videos

I blogged earlier about Marin Alsop’s “Rusty Musicians”. And now watch this:

I wish we could do something like this!

22. February 2010 · Comments Off on “It Just Sounds Like Noise” · Categories: News

I’ve heard that about some contemporary works. And now I’ve read this:

Philip Ball, author of The Music Instinct, has drawn on the latest scientific findings from neuroscientists to show structure and patterns in music are a fundamental part of musical enjoyment.

He said: “Many people still seem to find modern classical music challenging. If that is the case, then they can relax as it is challenging for a good reason and it is not because they are in some way too musically stupid to appreciate it.

“The brain is a pattern seeking organ, so it looks for patterns in music to make sense of what we hear. The music of Bach, for example, embodies a lot of the pattern forming process.

“Some of the things that were done by those composers such as Schoenberg undermined this cognitive aid for making music easier to understand and follow. Schoenberg’s music became fragmented which makes it harder for the brain to find structure.

“That isn’t to say, of course, that it is impossible to listen to, it is just harder work. It would be wrong to dismiss such music as a racket.”


Agree? Disagree? Or do you care at all?

22. February 2010 · Comments Off on The Nightingale in Love · Categories: Flute, Recommendations

Robert Stallman has a wonderful CD out, that my dear, dear friend Isabelle Chapuis (Isabelle, why can’t I locate your website now?!) loaned me. (Guess I need to get my own copy of the CD now, eh? I didn’t copy it on to my computer … and I urge readers to be legal about their music as well. Pretty please?!) The CD is incredible! I know I tease my flute playing friends. It’s primarily the women, of course, because they are always dressed more nicely than yours truly. I accuse them of choosing flute because it’s a pretty, shiny thing, too. But it’s all in jest. Truthfully, flute is an incredible instrument when played well. (And how they manage the breathing is beyond me. I much prefer the “running into carbon dioxide” to the running out of oxygen, thank you very much!)

Included on the CD is cellist Karl Bennion. He wouldn’t remember me at all, I’m sure, but he was in Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (PACO), under the direction of William Whitson, back when they had two oboists and two horn players on the roster. (Now I believe they only have strings, and they bring in extras for the wind section.) PACO is what started me on this career ‘o mine. Prior to playing with them I loved playing but hadn’t thought about a career in music. Karl, as well as his sister Krista, have gone much further than I. But so many PACO people have gone on to music careers. Interesting, don’t you think, how a youth group can shape one’s future?!

Anyway, check out Robert Stallman’s CD, The Nightingale in Love, and more. His sound is amazing, and the playing can’t be beat. Truly. Unless, of course, you want an oboe. 😉 (I’m teasing … really!)

22. February 2010 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

Trying to explain to a non-muscian the sound of an oboe without using the word “reedy” is very difficult.

… that Joaquin Rodrigo was blind. Did you?

A few years ago, when I was listening to KUSC, LA’s only classical music station, I heard some beautiful guitar music by Joaquin Rodrigo, whose name I had heard many times. When the piece ended, the announcer mentioned that Rodrigo was blind. I was shocked. Not once had that fact been mentioned to me before. After that, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on his vocal music, of which there is plenty. His daughter runs a foundation in his name, complete with a website where all of his music can be purchased. I found a treasure trove of songs for voice and piano.

Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999) was a Spanish composer who became blind from a diphtheria epidemic in Valencia, Spain, and despite the fact his family had no musical inclinations, he pursued a career in music, began composing at a very young age and persuaded his father to let him go to Paris to study as other great Spanish composers had done. He was a favorite pupil of Paul Dukas and obtained a scholarship from Spain to continue his studies in Paris where he met his future wife, the Turkish pianist of Sephardic origin, Victoria Kamhi.

Both families opposed their marriage but they prevailed and their union was very fruitful as she became his collaborator, companion and in his words “his eyes” for a long life together. He became very prolific, respected and well known but most people do not know he was blind. I had stumbled upon him at last, my blind classical music hero, a person who made music history and contributed so much wonderful repertoire to the array of music performed to this day. In my quest to find some of his songs to perform in my concert, I contacted his daughter Cecilia who responded to me directly upon hearing I myself am blind and am interested in performing her father’s music. I will be performing six of his songs for voice and piano in my concert.

The rest of the article is worth reading as well.

Among today’s crop of conductors I can’t find a single one who performs on their instrument with any semblance of regularity. It took me a while to find out that The Dude played violin at one point, though there is absolutely no mention of him doing that in public for the last 14 years (though from some reports in the press he seems on the verge of being capable of transubstantiation). My fellow Buffalonian Michael Christie got himself a degree in Trumpet, but ditto on the disappearing instrument. My buddy Alastair Willis? No idea. I do know that his sister is a helluva horn player, but that’s about it. Don’t get me wrong – I like all these guys, but my question is: “How do conductors expect orchestras to take us seriously if we don’t play our instruments?”

-Bill Eddins

I read it here.

I take conductors seriously when they are good conductors. I’m honestly not bothered at all if they don’t perform on an instrument. I am bothered by incompetent conductors. That is what drives me absolutely bonkers.

Well, that and oboe reeds. Duh.

But maybe some of you are annoyed that conductors don’t play instruments. Feel free to comment here … or go over to Bill Eddins post and comment there.

22. February 2010 · Comments Off on Pack Up That Oboe! · Categories: Ramble

I was talking to a young student on Saturday about why I never leave my oboe on the stand if I leave my chair. I asked him, “What happened in Haiti?” He said buildings fell. “Yes, and why did they fall?” “Because they weren’t structurally sound.”

Yes, he’s a smart kiddo!

“But what caused them to fall like they did?” “Oh. An earthquake.” “And where do we live?” “Near the San Andreas fault!”

So I just clarified; I never leave my oboe on the stand if I am not right there to catch it should it tip over. Then I mentioned that of course I always pack it up if I’m done practicing anyway. He looked a wee bit surprised. I asked, “Don’t you swab your oboe and pack it up each time?”

Turned out that no, he left it on it’s stand when he was done. (When I say “stand” I mean a peg or some other kind of oboe stand, not a music stand.)

Of course it then hit me; this is something I forget to tell my students! Sooo … here goes … pack up that instrument when you finish practicing! Swab it first, of course. It’s just safer in the case. And it won’t get dusty in the case.

News you can use.