07. June 2010 · Comments Off on Take Me Out To Aida! · Categories: Opera


Once again San Francisco Opera is doing a live simulcast (so much better than the dead ones) at AT&T park.

It’s on Friday, September 24, 8PM … mark you calendars!

For the first time since they began these it appears that I can attend. So I’ve already gone here to reserve four tickets. It would be so much fun to have a bunch of my opera loving pals there too!

Garlic fries, beer, and opera. Who can beat that?

Oh … and it’s free.

07. June 2010 · Comments Off on Hanging It Up … Or Not · Categories: Read Online

It was while hearing a performance of Mahler’s enormous work as a child that Barnewitz fell in love with both Mahler and the horn. Now 51, and diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease nearly a decade ago, it will be the last piece he plays with the MSO.

“I’ve had nearly 10 years to think about this and I’ve been able to mourn it,” he said. “More than anything now, I feel relief in not having the pressure to perform under physical duress any more.”

Part of coming to terms with the illness and the end of his horn career was acknowledging that he was playing individual pieces of music for the last time, which he said brought up mixed feelings.

“With some pieces I would think, ‘This is a bonus – it’s the last time I’ll ever have to play that.’ But about 10% of the music we play I just adore and will miss terribly,” he said. “It’s been very hard, knowing I won’t play those pieces again.”


In Mr. Barnewitz’s case, he didn’t have a choice. An illness like his can be just devastating. I feel so for him.

But isn’t it interesting to read about the “This is a bonus…”? I completely understand. There are some pieces that I would miss horribly, but there are some works I’m delighted to say goodbye to. In the past there have been works that I’ve vowed I will never play again. Sometimes this is because I don’t like the piece, and sometimes it’s because I don’t like the stress. Some might think that I would be happy to say goodbye to huge solos like Ravel’s Piano Concerto, but that work, while huge, gives me a lot less discomfort than something like, say, Mahler’s fourth.

To have one’s career taken away due to injury or disease isn’t the way we hope to resign. To be told we should resign is also no way to go either. I think we all hope to resign on our terms, while still in good form and good health. Sadly it doesn’t always go the way we wish.

But sometimes things change, and sometimes good things do happen. Here’s a story about a singer who would have died without her double lung transplant:

Pretty darn amazing.

07. June 2010 · 1 comment · Categories: Losses

There’s a lot of shock and sadness in the Mexican classical community just now: last week one of the finest violists in Mexico and the world, Omar Hernández-Hidalgo, was found dead in his hometown of Tijuana, four days after apparently being kidnapped.

Read more here.

07. June 2010 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

I’m starting to really appreciate the oboe as a matter of fact. Cello is still “eh”

(See the other tweeter’s response to this tomorrow.)

My dad has already spent 100$ on musical things, and since the oboe didnt come with a swab, i am swabless.

Not really the main point of the Yahoo question, but a sad thing to read.

The swab I recommend most from my not-so-favorite store is all of $3.75. It’s the first one listed here.

07. June 2010 · 4 comments · Categories: Ramble

And ungracious=BAD

Okay … so now I can blog about the mishap, and be honest about the whole darn thing. Because “honesty is the best policy” (although, to be honest, that isn’t always the case).

Why it happened:
When I’ve played this work in the past, I haven’t used the grace note fingering for the G#-A# grace notes before going back to the G#. I’ve used the regular A# fingering. But years ago, after the last time I played this, I went to a fabulous player to be coached (because I was having other “issues” which, as it turned out, were all about English horn adjustments that were out of whack). The player said, “Why are you using that fingering rather than the trill fingering? Hmm. Oh well, you don’t seem to have a problem with it!” In other words, while the player puzzled over my choice, I wasn’t told to change it. But change it I did. For this entire past week. And I had no big problem with it, although it never felt comfortable. Last night, right before playing, I thought, “Don’t blow it, don’t blow it! How are you fingering it again?!” That is not something you ever want to think. Really. And then the silly brain in my head and my pesky “finger brains” (as I call them) had a strong disagreement on what to use fingering-wise. So somehow the brains had a huge fight and nothing worked and it was all one big horrible mess. Time-wise it was only probably about 3 or 4 seconds of misery. Personally it felt like everything was in slow motion and it took eons to get back to the right note. (If I’m remembering correctly I did play the low D# and down just fine, but that second triplet that follows what were non-existent grace notes was some odd jumble of bizarreness. And I mean terrible, odd note bizarreness.)

Whether it was heard as horribly in the audience I don’t know. But I know it was noticeable to every one of my colleagues (thank goodness they were honest … I hate the “Oh really? I didn’t hear it at all!” kind of lame comments that some folks give), so certainly it could get a mention in a review (thus, no review checking for me … sometimes it’s just better not to know!).

I nailed the final solo … I was so darn ticked at myself I had to. Otherwise I’m not sure what I would have done!

So I felt, as I told my wonderful colleague Mike, who was sitting on second oboe, “I ruined the entire piece.” Because, you see, I was once again thinking everything is all about me. Wouldn’t ya know?

But then the bigger, more horrendous, and embarrassing issue:

What happened next?
Pout, pout, pout. I handled my embarrassment entirely ungraciously. I lecture my students on this all the time: “If you blow it, don’t show it!” But did I heed my own advice? Nope. I hung my head in shame right after the final notes of the work. I couldn’t even look at the conductor. I prayed he wouldn’t acknowledge me. I thought he didn’t … but then I realized that the acknowledgement I was thinking (or was that praying or wishful thinking?) was for the trumpet player was actually for me. At that point, though, it was too late to stand up. Now that is just plain rude on my part.

So I heaped visible shame and ungraciousness on top of a bungled solo.


Yet I have to accept it … since it did happen.

Now I could easily NOT blog this. I could easily leave this private and not acknowledge the error OR my poor behavior after. But that’s not who I am. I want — I hope! — that other can learn from my mishaps and misbehavior. I hope I can learn from it too.

The Rest Of The Story
Of course I had to “get back on the horse” (so THAT’S what an English horn is called?!) for the second concert. I went over and over the very easy solo, going back to the fingering I used to use. It’s so darn easy. WHY did I think I needed to change? Geesh! I got to the “moment” and yes, it worked! I can’t say it was as easy as pie, because of course I knew what could go wrong, but I got it. And I got the final solo, which is the one I was more worried about all week, too. And the rest of the work as well. I wasn’t 100% thrilled with what I did — I felt my reed was giving out on me — but I’ve been told by both colleagues and audience members I trust that they didn’t hear any issues.

The Funny Part
After the work was over (probably only about 20 seconds, really, after the worrisome solo) and the audience applauded so many in the orchestra looked over at me and smiled. Those next to me grabbed me with a “you did it” kind of squeeze. It was all rather funny and uplifting and even maybe a bit embarrassing. But I loved it.

There are times, in this business, when you just need some love and understanding. I have to say my music pals gave it to me both after my massacre of the measure (Hmm. Shall I call that “MoM”?) and my success of today.

Man, I love my musician pals! 🙂