I haven’t posted any updates on the ear because, honestly, there’s not been anything much to report. It is what it is, and the hearing won’t return, so I’m learning to deal with it.

Unfortunately the new year brought new notes to it, though. My tinnitus got worse as the ear went bad, but sometime in the past few weeks I’ve been blessed with something new. I’m now hearing notes. I checked and while I only hear one pitch at a time it is all slurred … and it goes between some sort of F# (it’s been flat, it’s been sharp) and a G# (some intonation issues there as well). Microtones are heard … it’s not just a full half step or step. And it just goes on and on. The timbre is sort of a nasal, electronic sort of thing. Very strange.

My “normal” tinnitus is rather like wires that sing. Does anyone else hear that? Sometimes the wires outside the house seem to sing — not sure others have noticed that but I’ve heard them since I was a kid, so it’s not about this crazy ear — but I hear a very high pitches and just goes on and on. I can’t name those pitches (just too high for me, and I can’t quite zero in on them), but I know it’s more than one pitch and they, too, are close together.

So that’s it as far as “news”. Yes, this new issue is frustrating, but one can’t really do much about tinnitus from what I’ve been told, and at this point I’m just continuing to play and teach.

Next week I play English horn on the first and last works on the concert “Automation“, and you can bet I’ll be wearing earplugs: we are doing John Adams’s Short Ride In A Fast Machine and Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra. Both can be quite loud.

I think the program is creative and I do believe it will be a crowd pleaser, but we’ll know for sure when it happens. I just hope we get an audience. Things haven’t been the same since Covid. Sigh.

01. October 2023 · Comments Off on Set One, Done · Categories: Symphony

This past week I went back to work. It had been a long time since I’d played with an orchestra. I think, in fact, the last time was with Opera San José, when we did Falstaff. No … just checked my calendar. It was Symphony San Jose‘s final set of last season. We did Knoxville Summer of 1915 and Carmina Burana. That is all now such a distant memory! (I had to search online, in fact, to remember what we did!)

So much has changed since I last played, and I will eventually write about that. For now, though, I just want to say I really enjoyed our program, which was a tremendous surprise. When I saw it I wasn’t jazzed. I was SO very wrong about it!

Our conductor, Lidiya Yankovskaya, was really great, and I hope she returns. In addition, Brooks Fisher played principal oboe with us, and was really wonderful. Such a fine musician. It was an honor to play with him!

So heigh ho, heigh ho … back to work I go.

Okay. Back I WENT. Heh.

10. May 2022 · Comments Off on A New Era · Categories: Announcements, Symphony

When San Jose Symphony failed, Andrew Bales came to the rescue of the musicians in the orchestra. He formed Symphony Silicon Valley (now renamed to Symphony San Jose). We didn’t have as much work, and we didn’t have a resident conductor, but we HAD work, and I’m forever grateful. He added the movie series (a live orchestra playing the soundtrack while the movie played on the big screen), which included the Lord of the Rings trilogy — surely that weekend is one I’ll never forget! He scheduled weeks of “kiddie concerts” (and I even have a photo of him helping them cross the street to get to the theater). He did the Summer Pops concerts at San Jose State University. And when Covid struck he did what he could to provide income for us.

And now we enter a new era.

Andrew is leaving at the end of this season, and it is now announced that Robert Massey has been appointed as the new general director. I look forward to seeing what he will bring to our orchestra. I’m sure there will be changes, as there usually are and should be when a new GD takes the reins.

Here is an article about the appointment (I must say it is odd that Tito Muñoz is featured at the top of the article and Robert Massey is a smaller image below that, so he is pictured here for you, nice and large … you’re welcome. ?). Sadly the Mercury News hasn’t published a word. (But they also didn’t publish a review of last weekend’s concerts. It appears we don’t exist in their eyes.)

Update: NOW there is a Merc article.

So welcome, Robert Massey, and thank you, Andrew Bales, for all you’ve done!

In searching on Radu Lupu (trying to find out when he played with us, as I’m sure he did more than the 1975/76 season) I ran across a program that shows our entire 75/76 season. It was quite the year, and one that caused some audience members to not return: we played music that was just too darn modern for them!

It’s not easy to read, but here is our season. MY FIRST!

And yes, my first year included the English horn solo on Three Cornered Hat, conducted by Carlos Chavez. I conducted the entire solo: he didn’t allow me to take my tempo, but conducting in a rather fast three. I don’t think he liked me very much. Oh well.

If you want to see more of the program you can go here. It’s actually from a Carlos Chavez site.

Oh … and look at some of those names on the roster, including Loraine [sic] Hunt! Seeing all the works and the names brings back memories, albeit rather vague. It was so very long ago ….

02. October 2021 · Comments Off on Twenty-Two Notes · Categories: Symphony

At last night’s dress rehearsal I played twenty-two notes. Granted, I don’t have a ton of notes, as I only play the English horn solo in Dvorak’s New World Symphony, but in this case I played four measures out of twenty-one. This happens sometimes, when another work simply requires more time, and I’m not complaining. Just pointing out that a dress rehearsal doesn’t always mean we run a program.

Getting back on stage (we began Wednesday night) wasn’t the emotional event I thought it would be. It really was merely “back to work”. I’m wondering if tonight’s concert will be the emotional moment. I won’t be surprised if it is. Since it’s opening weekend we play the National Anthem to begin. Normally I don’t do that if I’m not on the next work, but I want to be there for the start of our season, so I’m going to play that, and then go sit for over an hour as the orchestra plays the first half of the concert. Last night I didn’t bother to rehearse it (I don’t exactly need to, having done it so many times!), so I was in the audience and took some photos. I won’t post anything until after tonight’s opening, but we have a few changes coming … stay tuned!

31. January 2019 · Comments Off on Star Wars: A New Hope · Categories: Movies, Symphony

I’ll be on stage, playing for the movie on the large screen behind me. Do you have your tickets yet?

Go here to get started on your order. It’s going to be thrilling, I know!

11. January 2019 · Comments Off on Coming Up · Categories: A Musician's LIfe, Ramble, Symphony

Next week I have a Symphony Silicon Valley concert. I will be stepping up to play principal so I am preparing for the change of hats. (Don’t worry, our regular principal oboist, Pamela Hakl, will be back!)

Yes, playing first oboe is quite different to playing second. In some ways there is a bit of a freedom: I won’t be thinking about playing under the principal which can sometimes cause issues with attacks as I try not to be too loud. But of course there’s the stress of being in the hot seat.

I prepare in many ways. I of course practice my part. I listen to a variety of recordings. I make sure I know what’s going on in other sections and especially make sure I practice the solos and tricky bits. (I mark anything technically difficult with an X, either over the passage or to the side of that line of music.) I also play through the entire concert — even the easy whole notes and loud bits — so I make sure my mouth is strong enough to get through the works.

This is a taxing concert. I don’t have huge solos, but I play a lot in the Dvorak eighth symphony. I play enough that I worry about getting through it. When I watched a video on MediciTV (a great source! And no, I don’t get any perks by recommending them here.) I noticed that that particular orchestra used an assistant principal oboe. I have played that part as well in the past. I sure could use that myself, but wasn’t offered that option and didn’t think to ask.

We are also doing the second piano concerto by Brahms. What a gorgeous work.

Here is Jon Kimura Parker (our soloist) talking about the work (2011 YouTube video):

That slow movement he talks about, and the incredible cello solo, is something I’m very much looking forward to hearing, played by our wonderful principal cellist, Evan Kahn. And yes, the horn (“The horn, the horn, awakes me at morn!” Anyone remember that?) has a very important role at the very beginning and more later, so it will be a delight to hear Meredith Brown play as well!

But then it’s a pleasure and honor to hear all of the musicians of Symphony Silicon Valley play. I hope you can be there!

25. October 2018 · Comments Off on More for this Weekend · Categories: Concert Announcements, Listen, Symphony

One work I mentioned earlier today is Debussy’s La Damoiselle Elue. I am charmed by the work! (I’m also a wee bit nervous, but oh well.)

I’m assuming one of the soloists will be Daniela Tabernig, but I don’t see anyone listed for the other soprano soloist on the symphony page. I guess I’ll find out who it is soon, as we are rehearsing it for the first time today.

Info provided by the YouTube video:
The Radio Chamber Philharmonic and Cappella Amsterdam conducted by Michael Schonwandt perform Debussy’s ‘La Damoiselle Elue’. With wonderful vocal performances by soprano Marie-Bénédicte Souquet and mezzo-soprano Carine Séchaye.

This concert was recorded in February 2012 in Vredenburg, Utrecht.

Musicians:
Radio Chamber Philharmonic & Cappella Amsterdam
Michael Schonwandt, conductor
Marie-Bénédicte Souquet, soprano
Carine Séchaye, mezzosoprano
Paul Meyer, clarinet

(I’m not quite sure why the clarinetist is named and not all the other players. Interesting.)

25. October 2018 · Comments Off on This Weekend · Categories: Concert Announcements, Listen, Symphony

We have quite the concert this weekend. (Below is just a screen shot so those links don’t work, but to order tickets simply go here for Saturday and here for Sunday.)
Symphony Silicon Valley, under the wonderful direction of Carlos Vieu, and with soloist Daniela Tabernig and the women of the Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale are performing some truly exquisite music.

This is the first time I’ve ever played two of the works: Debussy’s La Damoiselle élue, L. 62 and Strauss’s Vier Letze Lieder.

At last night’s rehearsal Carlos mentioned a video on YouTube about the final song and of course I had to find it and I have to share it. As Carlos said, this really is Strauss saying goodbye, following his long life and the horrific devastation in his country due to the war. The songs were composed in 1948 when Strauss was 84, he died in 1949, and these were published as a unit in 1950.

Through sorrow and joy
we have gone hand in hand;
we are both at rest from our wanderings
now above the quiet land.

Around us, the valleys bow,
the air already darkens.
Only two larks soar
musingly into the haze.

Come close, and let them flutter,
soon it will be time to sleep –
so that we don’t get lost
in this solitude.

O vast, tranquil peace,
so deep in the afterglow!
How weary we are of wandering–
Is this perhaps death?

09. October 2018 · Comments Off on Harry Potter #5 · Categories: Harry Potter, Movies, Symphony

Yep … we (Symphony Silicon Valley) are doing the next movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, soon. If you don’t have tickets, why not?