Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2010

Bad Orchestra News

The South Bend Symphony is in contract negotiations this year. We met yesterday with our committee for updates on their progress, and they did not have good news to report. Our already small season is contracting still more. Under the current proposal I personally would lose 10 of my guaranteed services - about a 15% cut in the number of rehearsals and performances that I can expect to do over the course of the season. I have said before that my family's finances are not tied to any one employer, and I stand by that. $1000 is not nothing, but it won't make or break me. Money always comes from somewhere.

What troubles me is that as the orchestra season continues to shrink (this is not the first service cut we've taken in recent years) we can only become less and less relevant to the community that we theoretically serve. This current economic downturn will pass. The dip in our endowment income will pass (or so it has been explained to me). But a loss of audience aw…

Inspiration

We listened to auditions today for the South Bend Symphony - violas and cellos - and it was utterly inspiring. I learn something from every audition I take, but I think I learn even more from the audition committees I sit on. Today's experience was a great reminder of what is important in music-making.

Obviously, good rhythm and good pitch. People always says that, and they are absolutely right. Those are the easiest things to listen for, and they are basic skills, and many, many people have problems with them. I noticed the problems, and noted them, and enough inconsistencies in an audition would cost the candidate my vote.

But there were a few auditions today that just made me sit back. Right away from the opening bars of the concerto I was in, and instead of listening for criticisms to write down I listened to the music being made. The very finest auditions we heard today cast a spell with each piece. I would glance down at my page at the end of 10 minutes and see
Conce…

Upcoming Concert

I'm starting the season off with a bang. This Saturday is Art Beat, South Bend's day-long celebration of the arts, and in addition to playing a symphony concert that evening (at 7:00 in the Chris Wilson Pavilion at Potowatomie Park) I am performing a half-hour solo set during the street festival (at noon at the Key Bank plaza at Jefferson and Michigan). I'm definitely looking forward to playing for a LARGE group of people who do not know me (yet!) at all, and I have good material.

I'll be performing several of the Telemann Fantasies, the Britten Six Metamorphoses After Ovid, some of the Dorati Cinq Pieces, and one of the Silvestrini Etudes - more if I get brave. The casualness of the outdoor venue will work well for me, as I can talk between pieces and introduce what I'm doing and put some of the weirder moments into context. It should be a good representation of what I do, and my goal is to raise awareness of ME, so that when I advertise my big recital tour in …

Memorizing on the Run

As I'm memorizing for performance there comes a point in my preparation where I just have to live with the music a lot. I use my running for this. I love this technique - I think it has a lot of benefits - and also it's just me using my time as best I can. I never ever have the time to sit down and study the piece off the oboe - and that's not my style anyway. I'm just about at that point with my Ewazen Concerto again. I'll be performing it in September with my pianist during a church service, and then in October with the Quincy Symphony Orchestra.

I find that there are three kinds of memorization and I need all three to feel secure in a performance. This is not remotely scientific, by the way, and I have done no official research on the subject. Firstly there is melodic memory. This happens quickly for me - I can almost always sing large chunks of my pieces even very early in the learning cycle. I can sing at least the main themes immediately, and as I ge…

Warming Up - Long Tones

I must not talk enough about warmups. I say this because recently, in my last lesson ever with a student leaving for college, I was mentioning something about my warmup regimen and his jaw dropped. Apparently long tones and intervals and scales with varied articulations are not part of his daily routine, nor had it ever occurred to him to use his band's warmup period to improve his playing. And I'm not telling this story on him, but on myself. Obviously I need to address the warm up period because it is fully half of the playing I do, and sometimes more.

Much of practicing is focused on learning a specific piece - either something you are performing at a specific time in the future, or an etude for your lesson, or the piece you're playing in band or orchestra. You are working on the specific problems or techniques that that piece requires. Of course you are working in as efficient a way as possible, and at the end of your practice period you can play the passage or pi…

Productivity

I didn't sleep well last night. And I don't feel like playing the oboe.

I tried going out for a run. I did indeed feel better afterwards, but still not like playing the oboe.

I tried making a yummy couscous salad for tonight's dinner. Creating things makes me feel productive, and I love cutting vegetables up, and we had all of these gorgeous fresh heirloom tomatoes and basil from my pianist's partner's garden. So that was good, but I still don't feel like playing the oboe.

I went up to my studio to force the issue. I did a half hour of long tones and scales and felt thoroughly warmed up. When I thought about actually looking at the music I'm preparing, though, I lost interest. Zoe was being awfully cute and distracting, but mostly I just didn't want to.

Now I'm trying a change of venue. I'm out at my favorite coffee shop eating lunch and catching up on some computer work - website tweaks and emails and work on my promotional materials - and …

Who Am I Now?

I have been away from Zoe for 3 days. She and Steve left Lancaster Thursday morning to drive to New York and then back home to South Bend, and I stayed on to finish my performances, which concluded last night. I am on my way home now.

I was sad to see them go, but Thursday was so much fun! I went shopping by myself in the afternoon and purchased clothes off the clearance racks of two different stores, and then I practiced and made reeds without interruption and took a nap. I stayed out late after my concert with my friends. Friday was even better - I practiced, went for a run without asking permission, and then - wait for it - practiced AGAIN! Just like old times.

But by Friday evening it was getting a little old. My life of ease and leisure felt pretty empty. I got into the pool and swam some ho-hum laps, but it didn't feel as exciting as watching a one-year-old learn to blow bubbles, or walk back and forth, back and forth, back and forth in waist-deep water. For most of S…