31. March 2015 · Comments Off on Offers I Receive · Categories: (p)Reviews™, Books, Recommendations

I get emails from a variety of places. Some offer me free tickets to concerts so far away I write back and accept and ask if they provide the plane tickets. Yeah, I’m goofy sometimes! Others are for rap or heavy metal artists. I don’t usually reply to those, but sometimes I write back asking what caused them to ask me if I’m interested. I never receive responses. I’ve been invited to movie previews and a variety of other events. Most are in New York and they’ve never sent me plane tickets so I’ve never gone. Others are asking me to listen to a CD or read a book. I very rarely agree to do this any longer: I simply don’t have the time and I sure don’t need more stuff around the house! I tried for a time and I realized what WORK reviewing can be. Not my cup ‘o tea, really.

Recently, though, I was asked to take a look and listen to the book Sleep Softly; Classical Lullabies by Brahms, Schuber, Satie, Debussy … and I was intrigued enough to accept the book and CD. I’m currently listening to the music for the second time. This book will be available on May 1, 2015.


The group playing the music is L’Ensemble Agora. The music is sweetly arranged, and I enjoyed listening. The writing in the book seems geared more toward older readers rather than the little ones. The illustrations by Élodie Nouhen would appeal to children and adults alike. Most importantly … drum roll … you can hear oboe and English horn! 🙂


Reading the info about the company that put this out I read “In 2014, The Secret Mountain, publisher of beautifully produced children’s books and music from around the world, released the Parents’ Choice Gold Award winning storybook-music CD Simply Fantastic: An Introduction to Classical Music. The first title from that collection, Listen to the Birds, also won national awards and acclaim the previous year.”

They have a variety of series: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from Around the World (five books), Dream Songs Night Songs from Around the World (three books), Sing Along Songs (six books), Lullabies (three books), and Stories and Songs (seven books), along with the Classical Music (three books) that includes the one in my possession.

If I had young children I am fairly sure I’d be buying more of these books. This one is charming.

To see more go to The Secret Mountain.

02. September 2013 · Comments Off on Three Friends, One CD · Categories: Recommendations, Videos

Jillian (oboe) and Dave (saxophone) Camwell play Michael Touchi’s fantastic Tango Barroco on Dave’s new CD. It’s on iTunes!

I really recommend this. Mike’s piece alone is worth the purchase, but there’s a whole lot of great music on this. As you can hear in this sampler, you have some mighty fine musicians here!

My friend, Ben Opie, sent me a copy of his new CD, French Sonatas, with pianist Peter de Jager. It’s so wonderful. The minute I started listening to the Saint-Saëns I was hooked. Following that I heard Dutilleux, Poulenc, Koechlin and Milhaud. I highly recommend the recording if you can get your hands on it. Maybe Ben can help us out here and fill us in on how to get a copy!

Thank you so much for thinking of me, Ben. It was an honor to listen to you, albeit also quite humbling! 🙂


I blogged earlier about a device I saw on the web. As I wrote, Robert Morgan, of Chicago Reed Company offered to send it to me just to give it a go … and he doesn’t even know me! So here I am, with this $250 invention of his. I guess he knows where to find me, but still, that was incredibly generous of him!

So now you all deserve an update, don’tcha think?

The W.R.I.S.T is pretty darn amazing! While I don’t often have hand or arm issues, I can still see the benefit of it. I’m nearly sold on it. Like 99.99% sold. (Like thinking, “I should just send the darn check,” kind of sold.) When I’m not playing but have only a few measures of rest, I just let it rest there. When I am playing, my right hand has absolutely no weight to hold at all. I think, too, that it allows me to have more relaxed fingers, and it makes the instrument feel very stable.

If you are using a peg, this is better. If you are using a neck strap, this is much better. If you are using nothing at all, you’ll probably need or want this eventually.

So there you go. My update. Pretty positive, eh?

Yes. Really. I am listening to a wonderful recording by the Homecoming Woodwind Ensemble that I downloaded off of iTunes. (I would have downloaded it via emusic.com but they are “charging” 32 tracks and that’s just crazy so I paid the $9.99 via iTunes instead.) It’s really great … very fine playing! I just wish they had a YouTube video out so I could share with all of you. You’ll just have to buy the recording yourselves if you want to hear it.

Or come over for a visit. My only requirement would be that you sit down and make reeds with me while you’re here.


You can at least hear & download one free track here. Check it out!

22. February 2010 · Comments Off on The Nightingale in Love · Categories: Flute, Recommendations

Robert Stallman has a wonderful CD out, that my dear, dear friend Isabelle Chapuis (Isabelle, why can’t I locate your website now?!) loaned me. (Guess I need to get my own copy of the CD now, eh? I didn’t copy it on to my computer … and I urge readers to be legal about their music as well. Pretty please?!) The CD is incredible! I know I tease my flute playing friends. It’s primarily the women, of course, because they are always dressed more nicely than yours truly. I accuse them of choosing flute because it’s a pretty, shiny thing, too. But it’s all in jest. Truthfully, flute is an incredible instrument when played well. (And how they manage the breathing is beyond me. I much prefer the “running into carbon dioxide” to the running out of oxygen, thank you very much!)

Included on the CD is cellist Karl Bennion. He wouldn’t remember me at all, I’m sure, but he was in Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (PACO), under the direction of William Whitson, back when they had two oboists and two horn players on the roster. (Now I believe they only have strings, and they bring in extras for the wind section.) PACO is what started me on this career ‘o mine. Prior to playing with them I loved playing but hadn’t thought about a career in music. Karl, as well as his sister Krista, have gone much further than I. But so many PACO people have gone on to music careers. Interesting, don’t you think, how a youth group can shape one’s future?!

Anyway, check out Robert Stallman’s CD, The Nightingale in Love, and more. His sound is amazing, and the playing can’t be beat. Truly. Unless, of course, you want an oboe. 😉 (I’m teasing … really!)

Update & Alert
Looks like the Dr. Horrible site is awfully busy … I can manage to get in now. So I guess not sleeping was good for my viewing pleasure, eh? Perhaps the birds will wake me again tonight and I can watch parts 2 and 3. (I’m sorry now that I didn’t watch them right away. Oh well.)

As some readers know, I’m one of those odd oboists (Okay, okay … you think all oboists are odd? So. Well then. I’m odderer.) who likes musicals. So when I checked out Episode One of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog by Josh Whedon I was hooked.

Hooked, though, means only three episodes from what I’ve read. Currently it’s free online. I guess in a short while it’ll be on iTunes for legal download.

So … check it out if you are odderer like I.

And yes, I’m writing this at 2:39 AM. There’s a very insistent bird chirping outside and the darn thing is keeping me awake.

20. February 2006 · Comments Off on A New Name (to me) In Repair Work · Categories: imported, Recommendations

When I was coaching the chamber groups this past weekend an oboist mentioned a repairman who is very near the SJSU campus. This was news to me, and I’m so happy to be able to provide another local name to all those who are in the area. He comes highly recommended … and happens to be married to a fine clarinetist I’ve worked with too! I feel badly that I didn’t know about him earlier. (And sure could have used him in a few emergencies this past year.) Ah well.

Here’s his information (which you’ll also find on my private student page and repair contage page.


local: (408) 287-6779
552 N17th St.
San Jose, CA 95112
Email is rufusacosta (at) napbirt (dot) org

08. February 2006 · Comments Off on Another New Group · Categories: imported, Recommendations

New to me anyway:
Quartetto Gelato

Cynthia Steljes – oboe, English horn
Peter DeSotto – tenor, violin, mandolin
Alexander Sevastian – accordion, piano, bandoneon
Kristina Reiko Cooper – cello

This group is a bit unusual, and it just sounds like a whole lot of fun! Be sure and listen to some of their music if you visit the site.

07. February 2006 · Comments Off on Quick Note · Categories: imported, Recommendations

I’m really enjoying the Imani Winds. I purchased two CDs through iTunes. Try ’em. You’ll like ’em. (I hope!)