14. June 2010 · Comments Off on Leonard Slatkin Blogs About the Applause Issue · Categories: Other People's Words

Over the years there has been a constant argument about when an audience should applaud. Certainly at the end of a piece, unless they are bored or hate it, in which case boos are appropriate. But what to do in the case of Concerti, where after a virtuoso display, including cadenza in the first movement, there is a rush to positive judgment in the form of clapping?
I have no problem with this. In fact, it is part of tradition, going back to at least the classical age. No one is sure when this was considered bad form, much less who started discouraging the expression of satisfaction. It is certainly preferable to coughing.
The trouble lies with the symphonic canon, and since we were playing one of the most glaring examples of premature applause, Tchaik 6, the situation was bound to come up. Surprisingly, almost every concert I did on this trip had at least one moment of audience participation earlier than expected. In Lyon, it was after the first movement, not of Rachmaninov’s 3rd Concerto but the 3rd Symphony. Frankfurt heard a ripple after the 1st movement of the Fantastique.
At the end of the 3rd movement in the 6th, I held up my hands to try and keep the sound of silence the order of the evening. No luck. In fact there was quite an ovation. I thought we could leave the stage and only a few people would notice that we did not play the last movement. But still, the applause here does not bother me. It seems natural.
However, at the end of the symphony, there is the most sublime sound of lower strings, fading as if the last breath of the composer were being pulled from his chest. We had played a beautiful pianissimo and I did not bring my arms down or even give a cut-off for the orchestra. One gentleman in the seats to my left and behind the orchestra began to cheer and applaud. A few others joined in and then most people realized we were not quite finished and it stopped. But it was too late. The damage to the moment was done and I could only bring my arms down and try to compose myself.
It is a fine line between letting the audience express itself and stepping beyond the boundary. Some orchestras print guidelines in the program book. A few conductors glare at the patrons, possibly risking embarrassment to all. There is really not much that we can do, other than hope that people know a little bit as to what is expected of them.

I read it here.

I’ve never had the opportunity to play in an orchestra conducted by Mr. Slatkin. I haven’t a clue what he’s like. But I do enjoy his blog entries (or “notes” as he calls them). I know there has been some discussion about him recently regarding the whole Met/Slatkin/Gheorgiu thing, since he has now give his side of the story, but I’m just not into going there so if you want conversation about that you’ll have to travel elsewhere.

14. June 2010 · Comments Off on Recital Encore: 5 Months of Oboe · Categories: Recital Encore

As I’ve mentioned before, my “Recital Encore” entries aren’t always of advanced players. Young players deserve some mention as well. Listen to the rhythm and the trills by this young player! I’m impressed. This student has been playing oboe for five months and I believe he’s 10 years old. Bravo, I say! 🙂

14. June 2010 · Comments Off on FBQD · Categories: FBQD

I had my first guitar lesson today! I am so excited! Apparently there ARE some skills you can transfer from geeky oboe-playing to the guitar!

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

Wish my allergy meds were working…so glad my oboe kid tonight is switching to trumpet. (he’s too ‘cool’ for oboe). Yeah…whatever kid.

Something I never imagined:

14. June 2010 · Comments Off on The Met’s Summer HD Encores · Categories: Opera

Since I teach on Saturday morning and Wednesday evenings during the symphony/opera season are usually busy, I never seem to make it to the Met Opera HD broadcasts at our local movie theatre. Instead I’ve been recording them as they appear on PBS. Still, I rarely watch them. I really just don’t care much for watching opera on my little TV. (Of course ideally I want to attend live productions … but getting to New York is a bit of a challenge!) So now I read that they will be shown again through the summer. I think they’ll be showing at Santana Row, which is a nice place to see them.

2010 HD Summer Encores

Verdi’s Aida
U.S.: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 6:30 pm local time
Canada: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 6:30 pm local time
Set in ancient Egypt, this Verdi classic is both a heartbreaking love story and an epic drama full of spectacular crowd scenes. A cast of powerful voices and a grand production bring the story to life on the Met stage (and on the HD screen). Violeta Urmana stars in the title role of the enslaved Ethiopian princess, with Dolora Zajick as her rival. Johan Botha plays Radamès, commander of the Egyptian army, and Daniele Gatti conducts. Among the score’s highlights is the celebrated Triumphal March.

Conductor: Daniele Gatti; Production: Sonja Frisell; Violeta Urmana, Dolora Zajick, Johan Botha, Carlo Guelfi, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Stefan Kocán

Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette
U.S.: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 6:30 pm local time
Canada: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm local time

Gounod’s ultra-sensual interpretation of Shakespeare is an ideal vehicle for star soprano Anna Netrebko and the remarkable tenor Roberto Alagna, both of whom bring their incandescent appeal to the title roles. The irresistible Nathan Gunn is Mercutio and Plácido Domingo presides on the podium.

Conductor: Plácido Domingo; Production: Guy Joosten; Anna Netrebko, Isabel Leonard, Roberto Alagna, Nathan Gunn, Robert Lloyd

Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin
Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm local time (U.S. Only)

Tchaikovsky’s setting of Pushkin’s masterpiece is one of the most romantic and lyrical works ever written for the stage. Valery Gergiev conducts, and Renée Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky star in this moving tale of mistimed love.

Conductor: Valery Gergiev; Production: Robert Carsen; Renée Fleming, Ramón Vargas, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Sergei Aleksashkin

Puccini’s La Bohème
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm local time (U.S. Only)

A magnificent cast comes together for Franco Zeffirelli’s iconic production of the Puccini favorite. The exciting young conductor Nicola Luisotti presides over a glorious vocal ensemble led by Angela Gheorghiu, opposite tenor Ramón Vargas as her lover, Rodolfo.

Conductor: Nicola Luisotti; Production: Franco Zeffirelli; Angela Gheorghiu, Ainhoa Arteta, Ramón Vargas, Ludovic Tézier, Quinn Kelsey, Oren Gradus, Paul Plishka

Puccini’s Turandot
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm local time (U.S. Only)

Director Franco Zeffirelli’s breathtaking production of Puccini’s last opera is a favorite of the Met repertoire. Maria Guleghina plays the ruthless Chinese princess of the title, whose hatred of men is so strong that she has all suitors who can’t solve her riddles beheaded. Marcello Giordani sings Calàf, the unknown prince who eventually wins her love and whose solos include the famous “Nessun dorma.”

Conductor: Andris Nelsons; Production: Franco Zeffirelli; Maria Guleghina, Marina Poplavskaya, Marcello Giordani, Samuel Ramey

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm local time (Canada Only)

Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella’s stunning production became an instant hit when it opened the Met’s 2006­-07 season. Patricia Racette stars in the title role of the innocent young geisha, opposite Marcello Giordani as U.S. Navy Lieutenant Pinkerton.

Conductor: Patrick Summers; Production: Anthony Minghella; Patricia Racette, Maria Zifchak, Marcello Giordani, Dwayne Croft

Bizet’s Carmen
U.S.: Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 6:30 pm local time
Canada: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm local time

One of the most popular operas of all time, Carmen “is about sex, violence, and racism—and its corollary: freedom,” says Olivier Award-winning director Richard Eyre about his new production of Bizet’s drama. “It is one of the inalienably great works of art. It’s sexy, in every sense. And I think it should be shocking.” El?na Garan?a sings the seductive gypsy of the title for the first time at the Met, opposite Roberto Alagna as the obsessed Don José. Rising maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

Conductor: Yannick Nézet-Séguin; Production: Richard Eyre; Barbara Frittoli, El?na Garan?a, Roberto Alagna, Mariusz Kwiecien

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14. June 2010 · Comments Off on Girls Just Wanna … · Categories: Videos

play musical instruments. Really, really well.


I’m not sure “Girls just wanna have fun” fits here … I see nary a smile at the end.

We get criticized for not smiling while we are working sometimes. I try to explain that what we do requires serious concentration, but there are moments when I do burst into a full smile. Really. (You’ll have to attend a concert to see!) But these girls are taking their work quite seriously. They even look serious (and entirely militaristic) when they stand at the end. Then again, band is sort of a military thing, right?