06. October 2015 · Comments Off on “One Note” Concerts · Categories: Ramble

Last week’s concerts were, for me, all about one note.


Yes, I had a lot more than one note to play. Yes, others could be heard (although not well, really, since much of what I played was during tutti passages). But that one note … after sitting for 20 some odd measures of the second movement of the Beethoven fifth Piano Concerto … well … it mattered most. I come in, along with the principal oboist, pianissimo. I’m on a low F#. If it doesn’t speak, if it isn’t just right, my night is ruined.

Yes, that’s pathetic. But that’s how it feels.

So they were “One Note” concerts as far as I was concerned.

I tried numerous reeds. I thought I had decided which made me the most comfortable. I played the note over and over, making sure I would get that right feel, getting the muscle memory, learning to trust myself and the reed.

Then I switched reeds on the first concert night.

Yep, that happens. Reeds are so darn fickle and the one that I thought was the Chosen One just didn’t feel right to me Saturday night. So a different reed came out.

And it worked.

Sometimes it’s all about one note. Concerts like that aren’t fun until that one note has sounded. Go figure.

Now I can say, “Gee, what a fun concert!”

06. October 2015 · Comments Off on Riccardo Muti’s Words … · Categories: Other People's Words, Read Online

HE: I was at an open rehearsal of yours with the Civic Orchestra, and you surprised me by saying that the world is losing its artistic values. How can we regain those artistic values, if our generation is losing them?

RM: First off, the basic element is education—if you teach kids how to move in the world of sounds, to interest them in the world of a symphony. It should be done in such a way that it becomes a pleasure and a discovery, not a punishment. Then, when they become adults, they will feel that they need this spiritual bread. But if you leave them in complete ignorance, you cannot expect that at the age of 20, 25, they will go into a concert hall to hear the [B minor Mass] of Bach or the Missa solemnis of Beethoven. It will be like being in an unknown world.

There is another thing: In the last [several] years, we have become a visual society. So instead of listening to the music, we want to see conductors exercising on the podium, pianists that communicate with God while playing, violinists that try to impress the public with sexy attitudes…All this didn’t exist 30 years ago, 40 years ago. Today, with television and other things, people are interested in what they see. Nobody speaks about the spiritual integrity of these [artists]; what they are conveying to the public.

So something dramatic is happening. And instead of helping the public to become more concentrated on the substance of what art is, we are following them—giving them candies instead of vitamins. The next time you go to a concert and see a conductor who moves more than is necessary, and opens his mouth like a shark, you have to boo.

MC: I’ve been waiting to do that! North American audiences always give standing ovations, no matter what.

RM: Yes. If the concert ends loud, you can be sure of its success. Because the public, when it is not educated, reacts to the physical impact of the sound.

So we please them, and we are ruining the quality of the audience. But this attitude that we still have of musicians in tails—dressed like penguins—and all this ceremony that has been going on for more than one century… This is something that is not helping the music to become [universal]. I want to see the moment in the future—I hope before I disappear from this planet—when [orchestras] do what I’m doing already in rehearsals, which is speaking to both the musicians and the public. That way, the public becomes an essential part of the process.

We have to change the world. Not “we”—you! You are young, after all.