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Showing posts from July, 2011


Zoe loves her new set of alphabet books (thanks, neighbors!), the format of which is very simple.

We opened the U book and the first picture was a unicorn. Zoe knows nothing of unicorns, but she was confident. "Goat!"

"What is that picture, Sweetie?"


"What is that letter?" I was pointing to the big U, which is in fact a letter Zoe knows. She can pick it out of the refrigerator magnets and alphabet blocks, and label it easily.


"But, Zoe, what is the letter here?"

"Guh-guh-guh-Goat", she said, looking at me as though I was an idiot. Little girl knows the drill, all right.

But in this two-year-old cuteness I read the completely normal human response of ignoring the facts that don't coincide with the "truth" we hold in our heads. I see it everywhere - in our politics, in our religions, in our day-to-day interactions. And if my brilliant daughter isn't immune I can't possibly be, so …

Making Changes

This afternoon I will be driving out to the College of DuPage to record my Lofstrom Concertino. This terrific piece was commissioned for me back in 2006 by Kirk Muspratt and the New Philharmonic, and I premiered it with them and with the Northwest Indiana Symphony in 2007. Although I've had a few performances of it with piano since then, it's been mostly on the shelf, until a month or so ago I was informed that the composer, Doug Lofstrom, wanted to record it for release. HOW EXCITING!

So I've been working to get the piece back under my fingers, which is fine, and I've been working on changing my reeds, which is making me feel like I don't know what I'm doing.

At the beginning of summer, I was focusing on articulation. I'd pretty much solved the double tongue techniques I was worried about, but wanted a more secure way to approach entrances, especially low ones.

I spent the early part of summer experimenting to release the notes inside my mouth instead of…

Zoe is TWO

Zoe turned two on Monday. She's been "two" for months, really, in that she's been pushing her limits (and our buttons) as hard as she can, and has proven herself more than willing to throw fits if she does not get her way. But this week makes it official.

Recently she's started spontaneously saying Please, Thank You, and Sorry at the appropriate times. I'm so startled I frequently forget my line (You're welcome, Zoe, for example). She is interested in letters and words, and whenever she notices some will launch into the alphabet song without warning. She gets a little muddled in the middle, but always ends triumphantly: "Now I know my ABCDEFGH - Nex time Sing Ah Me!"

The Ah construction is an invention of Zoe's own. Instead of differentiating all of those complex prepositions and their idiomatic English uses, she says Ah. (Sit nex Ah Mommy! Give phone Ah Daddy! Mommy walk Ah Zoe!) It's passed effortlessly into common usage in our …

Upcoming Webcast!

Our Sunday afternoon opera will be live-streamed at the above link! 3pm EDT.

Since writing my last post I have to say I've fallen ever more in love with the music to Rockland. This is gorgeous stuff, and how often do you get to watch a world premiere Finnish opera? Tune in!

Upcoming Opera

I am performing with the Pine Mountain Music Festival this week, in Houghton, Michigan, and we are premiering an opera. Rockland, by Jukka Linkola, is about a 1906 mining strike in the Upper Peninsula.

As is often the case when I play opera, I have only half a sense of the piece. I know what is going on in the pit, and I can more or less hear the singers, but certainly I can't catch enough words to follow the story, and I can't see any of the stage action or sets.

What I know is that the music is very listenable. It sounds kind of like a Sibelius-influenced John Williams without the catchy hooks. There are some really beautiful moments. The orchestration is a little heavy and we have to work a bit to play softly enough for the singers, but it's not terribly difficult now that we've been through it a few times.

What I know is that although Rockland may not be the next La Boheme, I am so pleased to be a part of this project. It is wonderful to me that even in this ag…

Inspiration From Another Genre

We went to Burlington during our Vermont trip and heard my brother, James Hearne, perform in a local coffee shop. James is a talented singer-songwriter from Philadelphia and a terrific performer. He had planned ahead and set himself up with this gig during his vacation, which is exactly the sort of thing I might have done if I'd thought of it.

James has great stage presence and a charming public personality. His pacing from song to song and over the course of the set was spot on, and he has a lot of variety in the songs he writes and performs, from real guitar-pounding barn-burning numbers to very intimate, gentle ones, to narrative songs, to songs with great hooks, and all with clever, interesting lyrics that get even better the more you hear them. He owned the room from the moment he started.

My brother and I live far apart, and this is only the second or third time I've heard him play live. I loved seeing that in our very different genres our performing styles are so sim…

Great Oboe for Sale

UPDATE:  This ended up being a long story - but the oboe is SOLD and no longer available.  Thanks everyone who inquired after it!

I am selling my one-year-old Yamaha 841 Custom oboe. It is made from Brazilian Kingwood, and is one of the prettiest oboes I've ever seen. I purchased it new last year and broke it in carefully and thoroughly. Never cracked, and expertly tuned by Carlos Coelho, this instrument is in better-than-new condition. It has been played in orchestra, and quintet, and on television.

The 841 is a fully professional oboe with all of the bells and whistles, including a third octave key. The brand is relatively new, but several prominent US orchestras, including, I believe, Philadelphia and Baltimore, use Yamahas in their oboe sections.

This oboe has a beautiful, even scale, and would do a lot to correct a tendency to saggy intonation, especially in the upper register. Its sound is vibrant and exciting. Physically, the key work is very well made, and I have …

Climbing the Slippery Slope

It's a slippery slope. One day you wake up a little late and don't go running. After all, one missed day certainly won't matter. The next day you do run, but it's kind of hot out and you go a little shorter, or a little slower than you had planned. Listen to your body, you say. The next day, because you ran yesterday, you can totally justify not running because you don't really feel like it, and before you know it you are running 3-mile weeks when your training schedule (which you haven't looked at in quite a while) suggests 18-20.

You start the habit of eating ice cream with the baby right before bed. She needs the calories, and sleeps better with food on her stomach, and a little bowl of ice cream covered with fresh strawberries is practically healthy. All those antioxidants! Then you run out of strawberries, but the ice cream is still there. Then Zoe goes to bed early but you still justify a nice big bowl, because you're a runner. (Sort of.)