17. May 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramble

A very good amount of time ago now (long enough no one can attempt to connect it to anything) Dan and I were at a performance that included a well known singer in a lead role. The singing was so incredibly out of tune we, who are usually silent even during applause after arias, leaned over to each other at exactly the same time to discuss our shock. Truly. It was so bad it wouldn’t have surprised me to hear a boo or two.

But nothing.

The audience applauded as long as one might expect for a well known singer.

But okay. We all know not all audiences are savvy about things like that.

And then the reviews came out. Not only was there no mention of the disastrous intonation, but several writers adored what they heard by the singer. Only one reviewer left the name out of the review entirely, which hinted to me that he wasn’t impressed.

But I’m still puzzled.

I would think that reviewers would understand that intonation matters. Being 1/8 or 1/4 step sharp is really not okay. So was the very famous singer so untouchable that no one dared comment? Or did the reviewers honestly not hear the problem? I wonder.

And then what about taking a singer’s part down a 1/2 step to avoid a particular high note? (No, not the same singer as MissedIntonationSinger™.) Do reviewers ever notice if a singer’s part has been lowered (or raised) to accommodate a voice? I wonder. If so, perhaps they should be more careful about praising a high C or whatever it is they praise; they might be hearing a different pitch, after all! Maybe they should just say, “X’s highest note was particular lovely,” and leave it at that.

Ah well. I know I’m picky. And yet I also know I’m not perfect when it comes to intonation. So I should probably just keep my mouth shut. And my fingers still!

Too late.

17. May 2010 · Comments Off on Review #2 · Categories: Reviews

David Bratman, San Francisco Classical Voice

This includes a nice nod to Janet Sims, who does the preconcert lectures.

17. May 2010 · 1 comment · Categories: Ramble

I find it extremely rude that you leave the minute your son, daughter, or student finished with whatever piece he or she is playing. Especially when you sit down toward the front of the hall and parade out the minute he or she is done. I came on time and sat there quietly for every player. Even yours son, daughter or student. It’s just the polite thing to do.

Just sayin’.

17. May 2010 · Comments Off on Ah, Opera! · Categories: News, Opera

Sometimes directors can sure get crazy!

“The concept is that instead of a curtain going up, the curtain came down, I mean literally down,” St.Clair said. “Seats were being removed, all the props were being thrown into a huge dumpster on the stage, because (the concept) was talking about the fact that theater doesn’t exist anymore as we know it to exists.

“And for instance, in the third act Florestan sings his opening aria completely in the dark, in the middle of trash bags, unseen, and from a dumpster. He’s in the dumpster, the doors have been opened, trash bags are falling out, and the trash is really what is the remnants of the theater – you know, puppets and costumes and bags of trash. I mean this is just one example.”

A short video of the production on YouTube bears St.Clair out. It looks ridiculous; a mess as well.

“There was a gitter, like a prison cell put over the top of the orchestra,” he said. Beethoven’s overture was dispensed with, the director’s idea.

St.Clair was powerless to stop what he felt was a desecration of Beethoven’s opera. There’s good Regietheater and bad Regietheater, he admitted, but this was beyond the pale.

“It just got to the point where I felt shameful — I felt that I didn’t stand up in a way — or I felt powerless to stand up for Beethoven.” That the company supported such a production was just too much for him.

“I really felt that our differences at this point were those which would disallow me from, in any good conscience, working productively in the house. … This really pointed to some artistic boundaries that I could no longer cross. And felt I needed to sleep at night, and I needed to follow my heart. So I decided to take my leave from the house.”


But wait! The article included what could be great news for Orange County, which lost Opera Pacific a short time ago:

Berlin’s loss may be Orange County’s gain. St.Clair and the Pacific Symphony have been talking to opera supporters about ways of bringing back the art form to Orange County. He’ll now have more time to devote to the idea.

That would be great for them, yes?!

17. May 2010 · Comments Off on Thanks, patti with an i! · Categories: Read Online

At the Community Music Center’s Salute to the Joy of Making Music gala at Yoshi’s, emcee Josh Kornbluth introduced the fundraising auction by threatening that if people didn’t bid lots of money, he would find them in their houses and play his oboe for them. Or maybe at them.

Read here.

17. May 2010 · Comments Off on John Williams · Categories: Composers

(The composer, not the guitar player.)

“You have a good day, you have a bad day, next week you look at what you wrote last week and it’s rubbish and you throw it out,’’ says Williams, who is the picture of refinement in a dark jacket, black knit shirt, and gray trousers, with a neatly trimmed beard and rim of white hair. “I write all the time, not so much for pleasure but mostly from habit, which is what anybody who writes anything needs to do. It’s pretty good, or it isn’t, and I try to do better next time.’’

Impeccably gracious and unerringly modest, Williams seems more like a genial professor than an industry powerhouse. It’s not false modesty, according to his daughter Jenny, a psychotherapist who practices in Beverly Hills, Calif. Rather, it’s that “my dad wouldn’t be caught dead saying anything good about himself. He believes that no one should. It’s impolite.’’


17. May 2010 · Comments Off on New Concert Hall for Stanford · Categories: News

At a time when arts organizations and universities are struggling to pay their bills, Stanford University is tuning up to break ground on the campus’ first true concert hall with world-class acoustics financed by $112 million in private gifts.

The 844-seat Bing Concert Hall — a new home for Stanford Lively Arts’ live musical performances — will accommodate everything from soloists to full orchestras.

It will become the cornerstone of an ambitious 21st-century “arts district” at a school that is sometimes nicknamed “Stanford Tech,” more famed for science and software than Sibelius. And it’s a reminder of Stanford’s prestige and financial reach — tapping into a network of well-heeled benefactors in an economy that has paralyzed arts and education funding across the country.

“It says very loudly that the arts are important at Stanford and we want to do them well,” said Kären Nagy, the university’s assistant vice president for the arts.


I must confess that when I hear about Stanford University I rarely think about their music program. Guess I’ll have to check ’em out when this new hall is built!

17. May 2010 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

Every oboe player I know is agnostic

(This tweeter doesn’t know me.)

I have an orchestra concert tomorrow and a tragedy has just struck. All my oboe reeds split in half. Don’t ask. Anyway, I need to get atleast one new one by tomorrow morning, but seriously, what kind of shop sells oboe reeds??

Does anyone know a shop that would probably sell oboe reeds that might be in my area? A kind of common shop?

Thanks a billion

(Too late to answer; I read it on Saturday night, so the reeds were needed Sunday morning. My home studio students know they must always have at least three reeds in their case. University students should have even more of course.)

17. May 2010 · Comments Off on Definition · Categories: Other People's Words

English horn:

It’s like an oboe you can stand to hear.

-Ted Seitz, violist in Symphony Silicon Valley