14. July 2010 · Comments Off on Sir Charles Mackerras, 1925-2010 · Categories: Losses

Eminent Australian conductor Sir Charles Mackerras has died, aged 84.

Sir Charles, who lived in London, had been suffering from cancer for several years.

He was on the podium recently and was scheduled to conduct the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for Mozart’s opera Idomeneo as part of the Edinburgh International Festival next month.


14. July 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: FBQD

Why is a bassoon better than an oboe?

14. July 2010 · Comments Off on Oh Really? · Categories: News

On Monday 13 July, the New London Chamber Choir will perform a new work, in which each part is based on the individual singer’s genetic sequence.

‘Allele’ by Michael Zev Gordon and with words by Ruth Padel is being performed as part of an event at the Royal Society of Medicine entitled ‘Music from the Genome’. The genetic data comes from a research project being headed by Dr Andrew Morley to identify genetic traits linked to musical ability. As part of the research, Dr Morley took DNA samples from each of the singers, which has now been used as the basis of the musical work.

Composer Michael Zev Gordon said: “The work takes strands of genetic code, turning the varying order of the four constituent ‘DNA bases’ into musical patterns. Most of the human genome is common to us all, but at certain points in the sequence there are tiny variants which may lead to our individual characteristics – including musicality. These crucial variants of genes are called ‘alleles’, hence the title.”

To hear a recording of the choir rehearsing the work, please visit:


My problem with this? Monday was July 12. At least in this part of the world.

I read it here.

14. July 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: News, Opera

Erik Ralske, a member of the New York Philharmonic’s French horn section, had an interesting choice: be promoted to the principal horn position at the Los Angeles Philharmonic or take that job at the Metropolitan Opera.

Both orchestras are excellent, and both pay quite well: around $135,000 as a rough minimum, which for the Met includes average rehearsal pay. But principals like Mr. Ralske, the stars of the ensemble, can usually negotiate numbers far higher.

As for differences, there are the obvious contrasts between Left Coast and Right Coast; between a dynamic young conductor in Los Angeles, Gustavo Dudamel, and an established podium sage at the Met, James Levine; between the symphonic repertory and the operatic one.

Mr. Ralske chose the Met.

In a telephone interview Mr. Ralske, who lives in Edgewater, N.J., said he had made the decision mainly for family reasons.

I thought perhaps we’d be told what the family reasons were in the article, but it’s never addressed. My guess would be that moving a family from east coast to west would be pretty darn difficult, especially if there are children involved. (Uprooting kids, especially if they have strong ties to friends and school, would be awfully tough.) But it does say the principal position in LA was a promotion, which implies he already plays there. Hmm. Oh well … none of my business, to be sure!

I’m going to guess that the schedule at the Met is fairly grueling, but having two principals surely helps. (What about all the second and third players? Do they work as hard or harder for less pay, I wonder?) Opera is my first love … that’s where I’d want to be, for sure!

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

“Oboists! Always running around with their oboes! ‘Twootle doo, look at me! I’m an oboist!'” #NewGroupsForMelGibsonToHate

14. July 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: TQOD

Listening to pop music to drown out oboe players like whaaaaat

14. July 2010 · Comments Off on Read Online · Categories: Read Online

Is that an Oboe or English Horn (Cor Anglais) carrying the tune in the beginning? It’s either high for an English Horn or low for an Oboe. I can’t tell beyond that, unfortunately. A hunch tells me that it might be English Horn, but all I know for sure is it’s a med-high double-reed sound.

(From a site about Swan Lake)

14. July 2010 · Comments Off on Ah, How I Love My Job · Categories: Merola, Opera

We have now had two Merola opera rehearsals. Today we finally meet up with the singers. This is usually my favorite rehearsal; there’s an excitement beforehand, as I wait to hear these wonderful young singers. And then when they being to sing … well … I am nearly always just in awe. There really is nothing like the human voice. So I look forward to today’s rehearsal!

It’s so good to be back to work. Because the second to last performance I played was such a disaster for me (only seconds of time, but eons when it comes to how it felt), I must say that I continue to be haunted by the event. Similar to reviews, I rarely remember when I play well, but I do remember when I blow it. And this really was a doozy. I shouldn’t even blog about this sort of thing, I suppose. But too late now, eh?

Here is a sample of one of the voices we’ll hear (assuming there aren’t other singers with these same names!):

Eleazar Rodriguez:

Nadine Sierra:

Ryan Kuster:

I’ll try and locate some more of the singers later. I don’t mean to neglect anyone. Sadly, some singers (like Opera San José’s own Rebecca Davis) can’t put up videos due to union rules.