Symphony Silicon Valley, with the help of Target, is doing free concerts this weekend and next. Do check out all the info here. I’m playing English horn and a very small bit of third oboe this first weekend. For the July 30 concert I play all of one work: Ravel’s Bolero. For the second I play a wee bit more, but if you don’t listen carefully you just might miss me. It’s a rather easy job for me, but I’m delighted to be back at work! Or play. Or work—play. You decide!

And hey, there’s free ice cream at the Sunday, July 31 concert. For you. Not for me. (I don’t eat ice cream and the put a reed in my mouth. Bad idea!)

I’ll bring a camera and try to snap a few photos. Stay tuned!

29. July 2011 · Comments Off on Dallas Symphony Orchestra Ads · Categories: ComMusiCials™

… there are more than these two, but of course I have to post the double reed ones! (I may have posted the second one before, as I know I watched it, but I can’t locate it so oh well!)

29. July 2011 · Comments Off on Retiring Oboists · Categories: Read Online

Two of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra’s longest tenured musicians, both oboists, retired at season’s end, closing out decades-long careers there.

Charlie Wicker’s career clocked in at 50 years, and Frank Lynch’s stretched over 34 years.


Let’s see, around here many seem to combine San Jose Symphony (RIP) and Symphony Silicon Valley as one. I began in 1975. Will I be playing in 2025? When I’m 68 will I still be sitting in that chair? I can’t even imagine … but I can’t imagine being 68 either! Go figure.

Listen closely tonight for the bassoon solo in Ravel’s “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.” The New York Philharmonic performs this piece tonight for the Philharmonic’s closing night concert of its residency in Vail this summer.

Um … who cares about a bassoon solo when that second movement has the English horn solo. Right? I would suggest that the writer meant English horn, but he’s an oboist so I’m guessing that’s not the case!

I read the article here and it’s mostly about altitude and reeds. I have no problem with altitude and reeds where I live. I DO have a huge problem with my attitude and reeds, though. 🙂

29. July 2011 · Comments Off on FBQD · Categories: FBQD

I’m really happy [name here] picked the flute and not an oboe…

I like this sort of thing … it would be nice if all orchestras had them!

Do instruments often fit the personalities of their musicians, or is it vice versa? Stefan Farkas, Principal English Horn for the Seattle Symphony, says his instrument suits him well. “Quite often in the repertoire, the English horn is given slow, melancholy passages,” explains Farkas. “I think that does fit my personality. I’m more of a laid back person.”

This isn’t to say that Farkas is melancholy, but he’s certainly calm and easygoing. His thoughtful demeanor reveals an impressive patience for whatever comes his way.

Reedmaking, for example, can prove to be an incredibly tedious endeavor. Farkas spends countless hours making reeds, most of which aren’t even good enough for rehearsal. “There’s so much weeding out of bad reeds,” he says, but in the spirit of patience, he adds, “It’s a means to an end.” Without the hours of shaping, tweaking and perfecting several reeds, he wouldn’t get to play the instrument he loves.”>


29. July 2011 · Comments Off on BachTrac™ · Categories: BachTrac™ · Tags:

Menuet from Orchestra Suite No. 2

Galant-Quartet: oboe Alexey Balashov; violin Varvara Balashova; viola Andrey Utushkin; cello Svetlana Demidenko

29. July 2011 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

If you told someone you played the oboe though they’d likely say what’s that instead of that’s cool lol

28. July 2011 · 8 comments · Categories: Ramble

So tonight I went to the (not-quite-so) live broadcast of the concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra that I blogged about earlier. I went back and forth on whether I should go, as my left ear never has improved. (It’s an very weird and annoying pain on my outer ear … I know it sounds crazy, but it really is quite difficult to deal with.) But yes, I went. As I was warned in the email, the box office seemed to know nothing about the press ticket(s) I was offered. The house manager was called and she denied knowing anything either. Hmm. Fathom Events, you might want to check into that! But she let me in, for which I was quite thankful.

When I entered the room I was the second person in the theater. When the concert began there might have been fifteen of us, but I doubt there were even that many. Too bad … it really was fun!

There were glitches in the broadcast, and I wonder if that happened everywhere. Sometimes there was a buzzing sound and then a glitch. At one point, at the beginning of one orchestral work (by Albéniz), it stopped and restarted with Mehta walking on stage and starting the work again. Odd. Toward the end there were pops and hisses for some reason. Still, it’s rather amazing to think we can watch a concert that only a short while ago took place in Jerusalem!

One thing I’d suggest to whoever put this together … let us know it’s intermission and how long it will be! Instead a video about Callejo played, and then one about Fleming, and then some other things. We didn’t know if there was time enough to leave the room or not. So not one person moved. I’m sure some might have enjoyed a bit of stretching or even a bathroom break!

Camera work was odd. During the Rimsky-Korsakov, as the harpist played a cadenza, the cameras focussed on the rest of the orchestra. It didn’t seem to know where the English horn was. Not ever. But I was able to see the oboists; it appeared that the principal oboist was playing on a staple like Mark Chudnow makes. I couldn’t tell what kind of oboe was being played though. The orchestra has so many oboists that I don’t know who this was, but if it’s the first one listed on their roster, Bruce Weinstein, he plays a Laubin. I could also see the principal flute mouthing the words to some of the opera arias. Made me smile, as I’ve been known to do the same thing.

But especially fun for me was seeing the musicians react to things. When Renée Fleming came out for the second half I saw one musician grinning from ear to ear while looking at another. I’ll just BET you he had told the other one that he thought she’d come out in a different dress. And she did. She even changed all of her jewelry and her hairstyle. (I know in the orchestra I play in we often talk about “the dress” … or dresses … it’s sort of a fun part of our job.) After the very lengthy Butterfly duet, which goes on and on for we woodwinds, the principal oboist tugged at his upper lip and gave a very weary look. (I’ll bet he didn’t have a clue the camera was focussed solely on him at that very moment!) Yes, sometimes we feel like we aren’t even going to be able to MOVE our lips after playing that piece. I wonder if he’s ever tackled the entire opera! I was surprised to see one female orchestra member in what looked like a gray top, but I actually liked it! (Gee, how about gray and black options for an orchestra? She looked so classy!) With a filmed concert I think some of the men might think about those very ratty looking bow ties. Hmmm. A cellist had a bit of a coughing fit (which I could hear, but could see) and her stand partner started to crack up. Hah!

The best thing was seeing the musicians smiling as if they loved what they were doing! That was a joy!

Oh … and one other note of interest. The woodwinds had chairs in between the ones on which they were seated. The chairs faced them, and the seats of the chairs were partially under their stands. This is where the keep their cases, swabs and other necessary equipment. Interesting! Of course this wouldn’t work with us; we have risers and NO room to do something like that.

I knew all the works but the Albéniz and Massenet. I’d like to hear the latter again. I really enjoyed both the singers, but I’m not a vocal judge so I never trust what I think about them. I thought the orchestra sounded pretty good on most everything. Sure, there were glitches, but that’s live music!

While the orchestra seemed a bit puzzled (or was it Mehta who was?) by the Leonard Cohen, it was moving to hear the audience singing along. Yeah, I teared up. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing! The audience then applauded like crazy at the end. We American audiences don’t do that. We all want to get to our cars, I guess. These folks were wonderful!

Here is the entire Program:
Verdi: Overture to La forza del sestino
Verdi: La donna e mobile from Rigoletto
Gounod: Jewel Song from Faust
Verdi: Prelude to Act I of La Traviata
Verdi: Parigi, o cara from La Traviata
Puccini: Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut
Puccini: Vissi d’arte from Tosca
Albeniz: Triana from Iberia
Puccini: Aria, E lucevan le Stelle (Tosca)
Massenet: Aria, J’ai versé le poison dans cette coupe d’or from Cléopâtre
Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio espagnol (4th & 5th movements)
Puccini: Duet from Act I of Madama Butterfly

Puccini: O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi
Cohen: Hallelujah
Verdi: Brindisi (libiamo)

(I have a feeling the tenor was planning on singing Nessun Dorma before Fleming’s O mio babbino because that title flashed on the screen first. Perhaps he felt his voice couldn’t handle it. Or perhaps that was just an error on someone’s fault. In any case, I thought he sounded very nice on what he did sing.)

So anyway, thanks very much, Fathom Events, as well as Weissman/Markovitz Communications, for letting me have a very enjoyable evening. Much appreciated!

28. July 2011 · Comments Off on Gidon Kremer Gets Out · Categories: Read Online

You can read why Gidon Kremer bagged the Verbier Festival here. Then you can read Fabio Luisi’s thoughts (agreeing with Kremer) here. I’m not gonna tell you what I think about what either of them wrote aside from the quote I’ll put below which I appreciated: I have nothing to do with that festival, don’t know Verbier, Kremer or Luisi, and I am simply not all that involved in these sorts of things.

Okay, okay, maybe just a short bit about this from me: I do think we are living in an era where it’s often the “younger the better” for classical music stars. We hear an eleven year old sing opera and go crazy over her. We hear and see other young musicians who, while not even close to some of their elders in quality, get a lot of PR because they are … well … young and attractive and very, very sexy. (Some people are older and attractive, but let’s face it, for most of us aging doesn’t bring out the best in us!) But I know a few younger people who accuse me of ageism ‐ then one called me OLD, so I’m not exactly feeling the love at the moment (I can call me old, but having someone in her twenties call me old cut a bit too deeply for me. Guess I’m too sensitive!). So there you go. I could be wrong about what I think, and I’m not about to say any more than I already have (which is more than enough).

But still, I liked this:

We see many young, gifted musicians who reach the most important music places in the world, pushed by managers and sought after by presenters who must constantly offer “fresh meat” to the audience: the next Netrebko, the next Pavarotti, the next Bernstein, the next Rubinstein, the next Oistrakh. They are “the nextes” and they don’t have time to be themselves, to develop to be themselves – many of them will disappear soon (we already have seen how many have disappeared after a couple of CDs, after concerts in Salzburg, Verbier, after productions in Milano, New York or London) although they might have talent and skills for a serious career.
This is the reason I appreciate this wonderful Gidon Kremer letter, because it is fresh, ironical, true and it comes from a real artist which constantly worked on himself trying to improve himself, refusing to be pushed by whomever.

-Fabio Luisi

For what it’s worth, Maestro Luisi is younger than I. Better looking too. 🙂