26. November 2012 · Comments Off on Same Hall, Different Location · Categories: Ramble

This week I move from pit to stage, from principal to second oboe and from opera to symphony. This is always an interesting change. Reeds I loved for the principal oboe opera chair will, most likely, not be what I choose for second oboe symphony. The stage is different than the pit. Reed response can feel different. Timbre can differ as well. It’s amazing what a few feet (okay, maybe more than a few!) can do. Sometimes I get on stage and think, “How did I ever think this was a decent reed?” Truth is, it probably would be just fine if I could climb back into the pit. We also have to think differently about how we approach our playing. With opera, the singers are the main thing, obviously, and while there are solos that allow me to play out a bit more, much of the time I’m thinking about balance with them. Of course I also think about balance with my instrumentalist colleagues, but it’s the singers who get center stage. Now that we instrumentalists are on stage we get the limelight, but being second oboist means I have to be more sensitive to what the principal is doing. (I once played with a principal oboist who told me, “If you can hear yourself you are too loud!” That freaked me out horribly, and it was a most unpleasant experience. I do have to hear myself, after all. Side note: That oboist’s career was very short-lived and I often wonder where he is now. I believe he went into the wine and cheese business, but I don’t know for certain.)

I have two days before I hit the stage. It’s now time to line up what I think will be good stage reeds. Time will tell if I guess right: reeds that work in my little studio often prefer to stay in the studio and rebel against any stage work. Go figure.

26. November 2012 · Comments Off on TQOD · Categories: TQOD

Did some oboe and clarinet practice, now my lips are dead 😛

26. November 2012 · Comments Off on Die, Fledermaus, Die! · Categories: Ramble

Okay … I stole that subject header from Dan. (Thanks, Dan!) It was too much fun to let it just go ….

But yes, Fledermaus is over. I will admit it’s not my favorite opera, but it’s fun to play, and there really isn’t much to stress over. The very few solos I have aren’t difficult, and I can “schmaltz” them up a bit. And then there’s that drunk solo! (Aside from the “Drunken” remark the pencil marks aren’t mine.)

It’s fun to play around with it, and it’s pretty much up to me when it comes to how far I take it. I hope I managed to make it work. This is one thing I’d love to hear sometime, just to know what it sounds like out in the hall. Alas, I never hear recordings (union rules and all that*), so unless Opera San José puts a short clip on YouTube I haven’t a clue how I sound. (I could go to the OSJ offices and listen, I think, but finding the time to do that would take … well … time!)

*Update: I was just going to remove my comment, but decided it would be best to clarify for at least one reader and probably more! My “union rules and all that” was NOT in any way meaning I disagree. On the contrary! These are quite necessary (knowing that at least one recording I was on was sold for profit in Europe some years ago, we do need to protect recordings … and I could go on about that but I’m racing out the door at the moment). So please understand that comment wasn’t to say I think that rule should be abolished. Not at all! (I hope this calms some readers out there. I’m so sorry to have offended you.)

Next up is Symphony Silicon Valley, with Peter Serkin and George Cleve. We are doing Brahms and Tchaikovsky. You might have heard of those guys.