06. August 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: Ramble

A while back — long enough ago that no one can connect this to a concert I played — a string player admitted to me that absolutely no practice or study really took place before a major work. Too much was going on in the player’s life and schedule, and there simply wasn’t any time. I’ve heard several players sit down at the first rehearsal apologizing, “Please ignore my playing tonight. I haven’t looked at the part yet.”

I understand.

BUT … if I ever did that I’d be in a heap ‘o trouble.

I’ve had string players nearly bite my head off because I foolishly implied that my part was more stressful than theirs. I didn’t mean to imply they were less important. I didn’t mean to imply they were less difficult. I’m fairly sure, in fact, that string parts are more frequently more difficult than mine. But I’m in a solo position when I’m playing principal oboe or English horn, and even second oboe is a one on a part deal, and due to the low notes and more is actually, to me, more scary than the other two positions some of the time. (Uh-oh … now principal oboists and English hornists of the world will bite my head off too!). If a non-principal string player makes a little boo-boo odds are a reviewer won’t single that player out. If I make one, my name — or at least my instrument as some reviewers are kind that way — just might make a review.

Still, can you imagine if I didn’t study my part at all?

I sure can’t.

That’s not to say I always feel completely prepared. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I struggle through a work until the bitter end. I’m hopeful, though, that listeners don’t know how I’m feeling.

Someday, though, I want to shout out at the end of a successful concert, “You need to know that was incredibly difficult and I just want to totally fall apart now that I’m done!”

Yeah. I want to. But I never will. 😉

06. August 2010 · Comments Off on First Reviews Are In · Categories: Merola, Reviews

Some reviews are in, and one, that is supposed to be up at the Mercury News says it’s no longer available and I should search the archives. Hmmm. I think they have a problem. And, now that I check another, so does Contra Costa Times. I’m going to guess they are by the same writer, Richard Scheinin. Maybe they had to correct something on those, and the links will be up and running soon.

Update @ 12:05 AM (yes, I’m just home from Friday night’s opera)
The Mercury News review is nowhere.

Here are those I’ve found so far:

Opera Tattler (Charlise Tiee)
Examiner (Mark Rudio) (also found here (A Beast in a Jungle)
SFGate.com (Joshua Kosman)
SFCV (Jason Victor Serinus)

Some liked it. Some didn’t.

Do I have opinions? Yep. Am I gonna give ’em. Nope. I was performing, and when I’m performing I keep things to myself for the most part. When I remember to. 😎

Sardonika’s bid to become a big time player in the video game industry was dealt a major blow today when Trillvision, the makers of Oboe Hero, declared bankruptcy.

CEO Cyril Richey said he has filed Chapter 11, Chapter 13, Chapter 22, The Prologue and Acknowledgments.

Modeled after the wildly popular Guitar Hero, Oboe Hero players use a reed-instrument simulator to match notes that scroll across a video screen.

It was not the instrument that doomed sales, but the limited repertoire of Mozart’s Concerto in C major, “Hang On Sloopy” and “I’m A Little Tea Pot”.

“We thought they would fly off the shelves,” lamented Richey. “But this year we’ve only sold two. And one of them was returned by an irate teen who’d received it as a gift from his shut-in aunt.”



06. August 2010 · Comments Off on FBQD · Categories: FBQD

dear oboe reeds, you suck. I think we should break up.

06. August 2010 · 1 comment · Categories: TQOD

I swear im going to shoot myslef… My sister got her oboe for band and thats all she is doing. Im going crazy.

06. August 2010 · Comments Off on For Your Listening Pleasure · Categories: Videos

I know this, so I guess at some point I played it. I sure don’t remember when, though!

06. August 2010 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Oboe, Quotes

It is an article of faith among musicians that all oboe players are mad. There is no single clear doctrine behind this belief. One theory is that the sounds made by the oboe are intrinsically maddening. Another is that blowing an oboe is such hard work that it disarranges the molecules of the brain. A third is that the oboist’s customary position in an orchestra, with the brasses blasting him from astern, the cellos vibrating him from in front, and the flutes squeaking on his starboard beam, is extraordinarily exasperating. By far the most common explanation, though, is that no one but a madman would take up an oboe in the first place.
-Robert Rice


It’s 12:13 as I begin this post. I’m just home from Elixir. The opera ended at 10:45, but then there’s the walk to the car and the drive home. So this is my life for two more nights. (Sunday is a matinee so that won’t be quite so crazy.) I think back to playing shows in San Francisco. That was six days a week, five of which had evening shows. AND my kids were younger, which meant waking up in the morning at a decent hour. I’m not quite sure how I managed, but I did. (I do think I became a bit of a crazy person during those runs, though.)

I think the opera went well; the audience seemed to respond to most of the funny parts, and if I read them correctly they enjoyed the singers. I just hope they weren’t aware of my coughing fits. I’m not sure, though, that those could be ignored. At one point it felt as if a sliver was caught in my throat. That was the worst it’s ever felt. I even had to play with a cough drop in my mouth. Not exactly good for the oboe and reed. But the show goes on and, cough cough cough, I made it through. I’m just so thankful I’m on second oboe so I didn’t have solos and had less playing.

Prior to the start of the opera, blogger and reviewer Joshua Kosman came to the “pit” (fat chance it qualifies as a pit) and introduced himself. What an honor to meet him! During intermission I saw and chatted with Charlise Tiee of Opera Tattler fame. It’ll be interesting to read what both of them have to say about the opera.

Were we too loud? Did we cover the singers? I wonder. I’m still playing with a swab in the oboe. I’m playing as soft as physically possible. But I’m also on the same level as the first row of the audience (talk about awkward; I’m a bit above the principal oboe and flutes, as it’s the only way we can fit four in a row). No matter how softly I play, I’m going to be louder than I would be from a true pit.

I had my “embarrassing moment”, I hope, for the entire run (aside from the coughing). Last night when the conductor came out at the start he not only shook the concertmaster’s hand, but he also, surprisingly, shook mine. So tonight when he came out he shook her hand, turned to acknowledge us, and I thought he was reaching for my hand when he wasn’t. I stuck my hand out. Ack! It was merely a response due to last night’s hand shaking surprise, but I’m guessing it looked very silly. Oh well. I do tend to have embarrassing moments now and again. Trouble is, they tend to stick with me for a very long time. They are much like bad reviews; I remember them in great detail.

Now I will attempt to fall asleep and even sleep in. We’ll see if I manage!