16. May 2011 · Comments Off on Not What They Seem · Categories: Read Online

Every year foreign orchestras with exotic or impressive-sounding names crisscross the country. They follow grueling routes and play in arts centers, small theaters and school auditoriums in places like Pembroke, N.C., and Modesto, Calif.

But they are not always what they seem.

The Dublin Philharmonic that played two years ago in nearly 50 towns? Mostly Bulgarians. The Moscow State Radio Symphony Orchestra that toured the United States last year? Largely freelancers. The “Tschaikowski” St. Petersburg State Orchestra, which is scheduled for a major American tour next year? Even the man advertised as its principal guest conductor said he had never heard of it.

A close look at these groups shows a pattern of creative marketing — even truth shading — concerning credentials and identities. At the least, audiences often do not know what they are getting, even though visa regulations require the groups to be “recognized internationally as outstanding” and to have had three-quarters of the same players for at least a year. Many of these groups are in fact pickup ensembles or have little reputation, even in their home countries.


Of course they aren’t the only orchestras that aren’t what they say they are. Take a look at some youth orchestras. Then look again. Do some of those kids look a little older? They probably are. They might even be thirty. Heck, they might even be mothers or fathers. Some youth orchestras hire what we call “ringers” to come in at the last minute to play concerts, sometimes even moving a real member down so the hired player can sit in a solo position. Some pay full fare to bring ringers on tour with them. When I find out an orchestra is doing that when they have members who should be playing, I no longer recommend the group. I just can’t.

So was I surprised by the article? Not really. Many things aren’t as they seem. Sad, but true.

So … when is it time to retire? Some would suggest we should retire when we are about my age. Those “some”, though, are not anywhere near my age! Some much older performers would suggest we never need retire if we continue to play well. The younger folk would say we are being unkind or unfair or just plain stupid or maybe stingy. (It’s so easy to think certain things when you think you’ll NEVER be that old, eh?!)

But rather than go into it all here, why don’t you go tell Gretchen what you think. Do tell her I sent you there! 🙂

Me? I dunno. I certainly don’t want to retire too late — it’s so sad when someone hangs on and can’t really play well so everyone covers for her or him. In my positions there’s no way someone can cover for me; I’m all alone! But I also can’t imagine retiring at this point. I think I am still playing well. Of course I could be lying to myself. I guess I’ll just worry and wonder for now.

16. May 2011 · Comments Off on For Your Listening Enjoyment · Categories: For Your Listening Enjoyment, Videos

A. Rubtsov: Marbella Fantasy
LINE TRIO A.Pliskovskiy (flute), D.Osver (oboe),E.Kuchma (piano)

16. May 2011 · Comments Off on Oboe Outside My Little World · Categories: OutsideMyWorld™

Adriano Mondini, oboe; Gianni Serino, bass guitar; Rodney Holmes, drums

It’s jazz, folks. Far outside what I can do, to be sure!

16. May 2011 · Comments Off on FBQD · Categories: FBQD

One of my accomplished horn playing friends just took up oboe as a second instrument. I asked him if it’s hard. He said it’s easier than horn. Hmmm…

Asked online:

How to season an oboe reed?
My new oboe reed is quite raw and hard to blow through, any ways to make it seasoned and easier to blow through and vibrate it?

And the answer someone supplied?:

I have been playing the oboe for four years, and what helps me a lot is let it soak A LOT in you mouth before you play. When you start playing, make sure that there’s not a lot of spit still stuck in the reed. Another helpful thing might be to LIGHTLY bite down on your reed with you front teeth before you play. It will help the two reeds be closer together which will make the sound a lot clearer and not as annoyingly loud. I really hopes this helps you.

Someone want to go over there and supply a better answer?

16. May 2011 · Comments Off on What a Hodgepodge of Names! · Categories: Announcements

What a combination of names for the Classic Brit awards:

Three virtuoso violinists were feted at this year’s Classic Brit Awards, held at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Britain’s Tasmin Little received the Critics’ Award for her acclaimed album Elgar: Violin Concerto, while Norway’s Vilde Frang took home a newcomer prize.

Dutch violinist Andre Rieu, meanwhile, won the coveted album of the year award for Moonlight Serenade, recorded with the Johann Strauss Orchestra.

Elsewhere the British conductor Antonio Pappano was named best male artist.

Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera House, had also been shortlisted for the Critics’ Award, which he received at last year’s ceremony.

Estonia’s Arvo Part was named composer of the year at Thursday’s event, hosted by Myleene Klass, while Il Divo were crowned artists of the decade.

Operatic quartet Il Divo were crowned artists of the decade at Thursday’s ceremony
Mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins, German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and trumpeter Alison Balsom – recipient of the best female artist prize – were among the performers.

Late composer John Barry, best known for his contributions to the James Bond films, was honoured posthumously with an outstanding contribution to music award.

I read it here.

16. May 2011 · Comments Off on I’m Happy! · Categories: Read Online

I whine. A lot. But I don’t believe I’ve ever whined about money issues.

I love my job. I find it rewarding. Joyful. A blessing. And yes, at times it is grueling, frustrating and exhausting too. But really … I love my job!

Conventional wisdom has long held that pursuing a career in the arts is a likely ticket to a life of perennial unhappiness, hunger and unemployment. But the opposite appears to be true — graduates of arts programs are likely to find jobs and satisfaction, even if they won’t necessarily get wealthy in the process — according to a new national survey of more than 13,000 alumni of 154 different arts programs.

“Arts graduates are finding ways to put together careers and be employed — and many of them are satisfied with their work,” said Steven J. Tepper, associate director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, assistant professor in the department of sociology at Vanderbilt University and senior scholar of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP).


16. May 2011 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

said the composer to the flutist, “take first chair woodwind on this one–no oboe.”

16. May 2011 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: Quotes

The idea that classical music is the province of white-wigged old farts shows a failure of imagination and rank snobbery.

-Stephen Fry

… and his “team” (Stephen Fry, Ivan Hewett and Hugo Hickson) won over the other (Greg Sandow, DJ Kissy something or other, student composer Joe Bates)

If you recall I blogged about this a few days ago. So, Mr. Kissy, buzz-kill or no, we’re still here. 😉