This past week Symphony Silicon Valley had our opening concerts. I really wasn’t terribly nervous about the solos in Symphonie Fantastique prior to rehearsals: the solos are in a range that doesn’t make me fret. There are no low note attacks. There is nothing to worry about. They are the type of solos that “fit” me. So I’m happy to play them.

Except that the first notes of the solo are, according the part, the first notes I play on English horn!

But not really. I play a few notes in the second movement when no one can hear. It’s just an “I want to be safe” kind of thing. I honestly think I could get away without playing any, but I don’t want to stress out!

After rehearsal number one, though, I did begin to get nervous. I guess it’s just my way! I wasn’t stressed out. I wasn’t so nervous I was fearful. It was just that usually nerve kind of thing. No biggie. But ear worms galore. (Miraculously they are GONE today!)

The first half of the concert had nothing stressful for me at all. I was on second oboe, and both works had nothing worrisome. They were just fun. I like that. It’s like being on near-vacation or something.

Of course I wondered what the reviewer would think, but I thought I played well. I especially thought my solos on Saturday night were good. So whether the reviewer(s) liked what I did or not, I wasn’t too concerned. Turns out the reviewer for the Mercury News didn’t think anything at all about what I did. At least not enough to mention my name in the review. Again, I’m just not all that concerned, so I wasn’t upset. Honest. (I know some folks worried that I might be. Nope.) I guess I’ve grown up enough that I’m learning to trust what I think about my performance.

Some were also concerned that I would be upset about missing a solo bow one performance. Nope. That didn’t bug me either. Conductors are so busy and have so much on their plates, that forgetting a player can happen (besides, one person attending insisted I was given a bow and I didn’t take it!). A solo bow just doesn’t really matter to me. Again, I’m being quite honest about this.

Maybe I’m finally growing up!

Naw. Never.

In any case, I will publicly say I believe I played well. I was content with my performance. I am a happy camper.

Well, except I don’t camp!


  1. So happy for you! It’s really wonderful to feel good about your own playing.

  2. Wonderful and very rare, don’t you think? We are are worst critics, I do believe!

  3. patti with an i

    We certainly are our own worst critics. And solo bows are a weird thing. Very much the norm here, but some conductors simply don’t do them, ever. I thought this week’s guy must be in the latter camp when he gave none after the Prokofiev, but then he did for Berlioz.

    If a conductor does wish to give them, though, I have it on reasonably good authority that it’s really not that hard to get it right. If you’re conducting from a score, there’s this miraculous contraption called a Post-it Note that you stick inside the back cover or on the last page that says “english horn – flute – harps – etc etc.” Not rocket science. If there’s no score and no stand, then of course you have to depend on the brain working properly. [insert conductor joke here]

  4. My favorite for giving bows was last year, patti … the one who mimicked our instruments as he acknowledged soloists! I can NEVER tell when someone is pointing at me, so that worked so well. (Sadly I didn’t have anything in that so no English horn mimic, but he DID mime the oboe and he was spot on!)