Some think we will go back to what we used to do: full stages, full concert halls. Some don’t. I honestly don’t know what to think. I believe only time will tell.

Here is an article about Chicago Symphony Orchestra that ponders this as well.

I could relate to this, although of course I’m nowhere near the level of those players!

Ultimately, though, “It’s like riding a bicycle,” adds Hoskuldsson. “We kind of get back into it.”

Even so, there’s no denying the pressure-cooker we’ve all been in for the past couple of months – and will be for months to come.

“People are so isolated and lonely and tense,” says cellist Sharp. “It’s a strange time. You think you have nothing to do, in a way. But you don’t really relax. I think other people feel that, too. You go through the day, and you’re sort of looking for things to do, but you’re quite tense about everything.

“And by the end of the day you feel a certain exhaustion by running about doing these things, maybe not very profound things in your day. It’s hard to feel free: I’m going to study a new language, do something you’d do if you had free time. Now there’s this concern, the worry of what’s going on. And I think that’s psychically very exhausting to people.”

Meanwhile … here is a little something I wrote just now (I’m not a poet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t dabble!):


There are so many of them,
with more added daily
but so few answers.

They flit around, hovering
over heads, hiding in corners,
pasted on foreheads.

We hear them from others,
we feel them stitched
in the fabric of our clothing.

But the largest one,
the one that never leaves,
constantly unanswered?

Sure, we hear “for the long haul,”
and “weeks, months,
possibly years.”

But those answers arrive
with a large question mark.
None with a date.

There is no calendar.
There are no absolutes
when it comes to time.

I have been enveloped
in question after question,
but it all comes down to “How Long?”

17. May 2019 · Comments Off on Read Online · Categories: Read Online

And c’mon … you have got to be kidding me!

But as to the solos: the English horn is a seriously underrated instrument. It’s the viola of the double reed family (with oboe, bassoon, and contrabassoon being the violin, cello, and double bass, respectively). And like its stringed cousin, it seldom gets much respect, with precious little solo repertoire and lots of folks who don’t even know what it is. (Not helping: its name. It’s neither English nor a horn.)

08. May 2019 · Comments Off on THIS · Categories: Read Online

Over the weekend, we recorded the Handel and Haydn Society’s season finale for WCRB In Concert, where it will air in the fall — and we caught this priceless moment on tape.

Hear the end of Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music, and the unbelievably charming thing that happened next:

Yes, these are moments that make it all SO worth it! Please click on this link. You won’t be sorry.

16. April 2019 · Comments Off on Read Online · Categories: Read Online

On a breezy Thursday night in the week before their anniversary performance, the orchestra gathers in the lightly-sound-proofed rehearsal room at TCC. Snatches of The Merry Widow on an English horn can be heard down the halls and into the courtyard. Members are tuning up, chatting, laughing, shoving instruments cases beneath their chairs.

This must be a version of The Merry Widow I know nothing about.

English horn?!

(My guess is someone meant French Horn, but who knows?)

I read it here.

16. April 2019 · Comments Off on Oh Dear … · Categories: Read Online

Which of the following is not a double-reed instrument?

b.English horn

English Horn
The English horn is a brass instrument and doesn’t have a reed

I read it here. I tried not to cry.

23. October 2018 · Comments Off on Music and Peace · Categories: Read Online

It’s often said that people just need to embrace music and violence would halt. People love to post the Bernstein quote when things get rough. Others seem to think that musicians are all peace loving folk.

And then there’s the audience …

The rustling of a gum wrapper at a performance of the symphony last week in the Swedish city of Malmo brought a section of the audience back down to earth, and brought several concertgoers to blows. Mahler’s late Romantic epic became the occasion for an epic clash over candy.

As Andris Nelsons, an eminent Latvian conductor, coaxed the quiet notes from the string section of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, a woman in the balcony rustled a bag of gum, the Sydsvenskan newspaper reported. A young man sitting next to her glared a few times and then lost his patience. He snatched the bag from her and threw it onto the floor.

But wait, there’s more:

But as the concert hall vibrated with the final, resounding notes, and as applause rang out, she exacted her revenge.

The gum-rustler turned to her neighbor and uttered something, eyewitnesses told the newspaper, and then proceeded to smack him in the face, knocking his glasses from his face. The woman’s male companion then grabbed the other man by the shirt and began to punch him, as the seizer of the gum sought to defend himself.

And even more if you RTWT

No, great music will not result in world peace. People are people. Go figure.

21. October 2018 · Comments Off on A Good Reminder for All Instructors … · Categories: Read Online, Teaching

With many thanks to Bret Pimentel:

I have lots on things on my list for you today: we should double-check your rhythms on that etude, review those melodic minor scales that were giving you trouble last week, and discuss some finer points of vibrato.

But something about your sunken eyes when I met you at the door, the way you slouched into the room, the slept-in fashion statement, says that today you are Struggling. Not because you are lazy or undedicated. But because college life is fraught with deadlines for research papers and rent payments, and scheduled to the brim with marching band rehearsals and late shifts waiting tables, and fueled by store-brand Pop Tarts and never enough sleep.

Do read the whole thing (link above). This applies not only to Bret’s college students, but to all of our students. I have middle school students who are overly stressed. I have high school students who are so on edge it hurts my heart. All are more important than their oboes!

14. October 2018 · Comments Off on It COULD be a weapon of sorts if played poorly. · Categories: Read Online

This is just too funny (and hat tip to Lynn Moquette for sending it my way):

A 911 caller told police a man was sitting on his car with a weapon, but he was just playing the bassoon.

This summer, bassoonist Eric Barga drove to Covenant Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Ohio, after a day of teaching at his old school, Kenton Ride High School.

Eric was half an hour early for bell choir practice. To pass the time, he pulled out his custom-made Fox 610 red maple bassoon, sat down on the boot of his car and started playing some scales.


Most importantly, though: the police need music lessons so they can tell the difference between the oboe and bassoon!

04. July 2018 · Comments Off on Lawsuit for Equal Pay · Categories: Read Online

Boston Symphony Orchestra’s top flute player is suing the group for paying her $70,000 less than her male woodwind counterpart, raising what looks like the first lawsuit filed under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Law that took effect July 1.

I’m grateful that I don’t even think about what others make in our orchestras any longer. If someone is getting paid overscale I’m unaware of it and I prefer to remain ignorant.


Elizabeth Rowe, who joined the BSO in 2004 after winning a blind audition for the role of principal flute, says in the lawsuit she’s asked for years to be paid the same as the principal oboe — the best comparison to her unique position — but the orchestra kept her pay well below that of her peer.

Rowe, an accomplished musician who also teaches at the New England Conservatory, says she spent the past six months documenting for orchestra officials the pay disparity and putting them on notice that the Massachusetts Equal Pay Law requires them to pay her the same as the oboist — who made $280,484 in 2016. But the orchestra took no action, according to the lawsuit.


15. June 2018 · Comments Off on A Much Happier Story · Categories: Read Online

(Although I doubt they actually shared sheet music!)

I had the joy of sitting in an orchestra with Rufus (Jr.) many years ago, when we both playing in Midsummer Mozart. He was a delight then, just as I know he is now, having run into him a few times when we’ve attended San Francisco Opera. I also had the pleasure of working with Rufus David a few times, both in San Jose and up at Merola the few times I was hired there. Both he and his dad have always been kind, gracious and such fun men to be around!

The best Father’s Day for Rufus Olivier Jr. was in 2011, when he and his son, Rufus David Olivier, sat through 5½ hours of “Gotterdammerung” from “the Ring of the Nibelung” at the War Memorial Opera House.
It was hot and stuffy under a low ceiling as they sat shoulder to shoulder in the back row. Back row of the orchestra pit, that is.
Olivier Jr., 62, is first bassoon in the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. First, the father taught his son how to play the unusual, bong-shaped instrument. Then, in the ultimate form of flattery, the son rose to the position of second bassoon so that he and his father could sit close enough to share sheet music during concerts.