17. January 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Oops!

Symphony orchestra patrons aren’t generally known for shouting up a good-natured “We can’t hear in the back” if something is obviously amiss during a performance.

That’s too bad.

Because if someone had, it could have staved off a disaster during the Florida Orchestra’s performance Friday evening at the Straz. It unfolded uncomfortably when Austrian composer HK Gruber performed the solo narration of his avant-garde piece, Frankenstein!!. As he spoke and the orchestra played, the audience could barely make out that he was speaking, much less appreciate the comic nuances of the poetic text, which took up five pages in the playbill.

What happened?

“The problem was that it was a handheld microphone and, while adjusting its height, Gruber accidentally pushed the mute button,” said orchestra president Michael Pastreich, who witnessed the foulup from a seat in the mezzanine of Morsani Hall at the Straz Center.

Gruber and music director Stefan Sanderling, who was on the podium, apparently were unaware of the problem, because they plowed through the half-hour piece without a stop. Compounding the disorienting experience, the piece features a lot of zany toy instrument-playing by the orchestra.

The Gruber piece was programmed as a kind of homage to the opening of the new Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, and you could say that the experience of hearing — or not hearing — it in such a fashion was surreal in a Daliesque sort of way. Audience members were at first baffled, then annoyed, and at least one couple walked out.

“The HK Gruber solo at the Straz was one of the most inept and embarrassing moments we have experienced in our decades with our excellent orchestra,” Bruce Houghton of Tampa wrote to the St. Petersburg Times in an e-mail.

Frankenstein!! was performed right before intermission. When it was over, Pastreich, with his 11-year-old daughter in tow, hustled backstage to perform some damage control.


Stuff happens, yes? But I really am surprised no one yelled, “We can’t HEAR you!”

The last line of the article has me wondering what he meant by “funky” … hmmm …? (I often think of it as a bad thing.)

Side note: Michael Pastreich used to work for San Jose Symphony (RIP) many years ago.

17. January 2011 · Comments Off on Asked Online · Categories: Yahoo! Answers

What are the parts of the English Horn/Cor Anglas?

Parts, not pieces. No music, just parts. Like for example, the parts of a trombone are the bell, the mouthpiece, the spit valve, etc.

So, someone can go answer, okay?

17. January 2011 · Comments Off on Anniversary! · Categories: Ramble

I began blogging on January 17, 2003. How ’bout that?! I began using something other than WordPress, so when I moved to WP I just compiled all my old blog entries and placed them here. It’s very strange to read those old entries; I don’t remember writing many of them. Ack … OldBoeBrain!

There is a major difference in this production, however. Seattle Opera often uses a double cast, and in this, one Rosina is a soprano and one a mezzo soprano. Coburn and Lindsey have different vocal timbres, but what matters, Williamson says, is who they are as musicians as reflected in their personalities. “They are both such strong characters on stage, they make you laugh, cry, feel.”

One aria is pitched a semitone apart for their voices. Where Coburn sings it in F major, Lindsey sings it in E Major, the key used in Rossini’s original production. Not a problem except when you are singing with someone else, and Rosina spends considerable time singing in thirds with the maid Berta, veteran Seattle Opera artist soprano Sally Wolf.

“It was one of our big issues, how do we do that,” says Williamson. “We ended up with two versions of the role. When Sally sings with Sarah, she sings the lower voice, when she sings with Kate, she sings the higher one. Sally’s fantastic. She owns the stage when she’s up. When I asked if she’d do it, I wasn’t surprised when she said Okay.”

I read this here, at The Gathering Note.

Very seldom have we had to do something in different keys due to our double casts. I can’t even remember the last time this happened, in fact. We do sometimes have to do things differently for the singers, of course — tempi can be different, as can spots where we slow down or speed up. No matter what the biggest issue is remember who’s on for the performance!

The group’s name is Rondo Veneziano (thanks, Gabrielle!), and the oboist is Fabio Palmeri

17. January 2011 · Comments Off on FBQD · Categories: FBQD

Wait — is that a duck in pain? Nope, sorry — it’s just my daughter practicing the oboe.

(Aw, this sort of makes me sad for the daughter.)

17. January 2011 · Comments Off on Remembering · Categories: Videos

17. January 2011 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

Make it stop!! I can’t listen to the oboe anymore! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

17. January 2011 · Comments Off on Jean-Marc Cochereau · Categories: Losses

The conductor died at a rehearsal while conducting the Marche Funebre of Beethoven’s third. You can read about the death of Jean-Marc Cochereau here.

I’ve always hoped for a quick death, but not one as public as that. Still, during that movement?

Jean-Marc Cochereau was only 61.

17. January 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: News

It sounds as if, had a student not made the news of a threat on the UCSC campus public, we might not have been told at all. I wonder.

Graffiti threatening violence, found in a campus bathroom, has prompted an investigation by the UC Santa Cruz administration and police. The graffiti was discovered in early December, before students left for winter break.

Administrators issued an email advisory to the campus community Jan. 11 alerting students and faculty of the discovery of the graffiti, and asking them to be alert for suspicious behavior. Recipients were warned that the message threatened violence on Jan. 18. Exact details were not included.

UCSC director of public information Jim Burns said the administration has no plans to release further details.

Sam*, a UCSC student who lives on campus, was informed about the graffiti by a UCSC staff member on Jan. 6. Though he was asked not to share the details of the threat, Sam has since told “quite a few people,” he said.

Burns confirmed that “members of the campus’ senior leadership team were among the people informed,” before the e-mail advisory was sent out.

In an interview conducted prior to the release of the official alert, Sam said that though he understands the university’s position, he was concerned for students’ safety. He decided to alert his peers of the threat as they had not yet been informed by the university.


So what would you do? Tuesday is my day to teach on campus.

In reading more about the threat I have a strong suspicion it is area and person specific. This does make it feel much less threatening. I do wish the administration would have been more specific about what the message said, but perhaps they’ve been told not to.