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Showing posts from October, 2011

Playing Second - and Learning!

So here's a question.  Am I doing it wrong, or is it just that every person does it differently?

This year I've been playing much more second oboe than ever before.  I've been fortunate - both Fort Wayne and Milwaukee are down a member in their sections, and have been calling me to fill in until they hold their auditions, so I've lucked into more of this high-quality work than usual.  And playing second is a very different task than playing first.

When I play principal my job is to be a soloist.  I set the oboe sound that the section needs to match, and my approach to the piece is what everyone else reacts to.  Of course I am responsible for joining and matching the rest of the orchestra, particularly the other woodwinds, but I have a lot of freedom to play the music the way I hear it.  Even when I play English horn, although I am technically the third voice of the oboe section, I mostly play by myself.  It's a different instrument, it has its own solos, and I listen…

Yamaha Made Me Better

The Yamaha oboe has made me better.  No doubt everyone is tired of hearing me rhapsodize about this instrument, but it's revolutionized my approach. I can just play, and if I do my job right it does its job too.  Believing that my oboe will work every time makes me relax. I have always feared low attacks, but with this instrument, my new reed style, and my new articulation technique I don't any more. 

The exciting revelation, though, came very recently.  My Yamaha cracked while I was playing 3rd oboe and English horn in Milwaukee several weeks ago.  I quickly sent it down to Carlos Coelho, who pinned it, sealed it, and put inserts in the tone holes. I got it back as good as new, and played it for several more concerts, including Extase this past weekend.  When I pulled it out Monday morning, the pre-existing crack had opened wide and a large new one had materialized.  My pretty oboe is on a truck now, on its way to service.

So now I am in Milwaukee again, playing second oboe o…

Chen Wrap-Up - Moving Forward!

Here I am again, in the phase immediately after culminating the project.  Sometimes this is an empty time, but right now I'm flying high and too busy to be sad.

I LOVED playing Chen's Extase on Sunday.  I love being on stage under any circumstances, and I'm utterly committed to that great piece, and I really loved my dress.  It was a wonderful day of being a star and I wish every Sunday could be like that. 

I was surprised and delighted with the reception the audience gave to the Chen.  I knew that it was a great piece, but was concerned that our relatively conservative Sunday afternoon audience would struggle to listen past the pitch-bending and the loud percussion.  I imagined them walking out, or at least leaving at intermission.  So the Maestro and I spoke before we started, and introduced the piece, the tune, and the techniques.

We played it - we were good.  The orchestra was wonderful, and I was pleased with my playing. I missed one obvious gliss up to a high Ab that…

This Is It!

Today is the last day before I get to play Extase with the orchestra.  We have two rehearsals tomorrow and one on Sunday before our Sunday afternoon performance.  And I love this part!  At this point, my work is done.  I can't improve my playing any more now - I've been living with the piece for 11 months and I know it as well as I ever will.  If I spend more time on it now I will only get tense and tire myself out, and since I still have Prokofiev 5 to play tonight I have no interest in that.

I have taken my instrument apart and cleaned and oiled it.  I have a case full of reeds.  I did a trial run with the dress today - checked the fit, hemmed it, decided on shoes and undergarments.  The babysitters are hired. It's 4:00 and all I need to do is rest until my concert tonight, and then enjoy the heck out of tomorrow and Sunday. 

And I cannot wait.

Click HERE for concert details and tickets.

Upcoming Concerts

This week the Northwest Indiana Symphony has a great concert.  Prokofiev 5 is one of the truly great symphonies - tragic, heroic, funny, hopeful - a huge range of human emotion can be heard in this gorgeous, tricky, troubling piece.  I have loved preparing it and rehearsing it, and we'll perform tomorrow night.  Their glossy promo is below.  I am not sure why it is so oddly narrow. 

Also this week, we did education concerts in Northwest Indiana, and are in the middle of a set of education concerts here in South Bend, so effectively I have spent every minute either working or in transit.  It's a pleasure, on the one hand - I love to play.  On the other hand, though, this is utterly exhausting.  Two services every day is not an unreasonable amount of work - many professional orchestras maintain that kind of schedule for months.  Most, however, don't maintain venues 75 miles apart.

This is a week in which everything is busy at once.  I have a big reed shipment due out today.…

Zoe is 27 Months Old!

Zoe called for me at 4:30 in the morning.  She had wet through her diaper, and was happy to talk about it.  As I was changing her she said, I'm very wet.  Then, What a wet Zoe! And finally, as I was stripping the bed, What a wet little girl!

I don't know quite how to characterize the change in Zoe this past month.  She's been verbal for a while now, so the complete sentences, including (some) pronouns and articles are not new.  What feels new is the way she interacts.  Instead of labeling things or asking for explanations of things she sees, she is talking about them.  We can have conversations about things she remembers, or people who aren't present.  It's a subtle difference, but a real one.  Suddenly we converse - things she says lead to responses on my part, which lead to new responses on hers.

She talks now about wants, rather than needs.  "Maybe go to playground?"  "I want a slide!"  "We go to Tennessee - maybe Katie come?"  &qu…

It's Not About Me

I have been reworking my reeds lately, and I am ecstatic with the results I am getting.  The tone is more covered but not less exciting, I feel, and for the first time in years, my pitch naturally sits down at 440, the "correct" orchestral pitch level.  In the past I have made my embouchure as open as possible and formed my approach around needing to push the pitch down, while all the time wishing that I could just blow satisfyingly against the resistance of the instrument and sing up to the pitch instead. In my practice room, when I was alone and working on notes and direction I pushed, and in the orchestra I backed away. I couldn't be consistent.

Now with my newly beloved Yamaha oboe and my new reed style I can make the sound I want AND play at the pitch level of the piano, and of the orchestra.  I can give an A by blowing up to the pitch instead of reaching down for it. (The A is always given at 440 - but some times that is harder to achieve than others.)

So as I warm…

Upcoming Concert, and a Speech You Missed

We're performing tomorrow night here in South Bend, and playing the score to a silent movie - The Phantom of the Opera!  I've done shows like this before, I think they're cool, I like the music we are using.  I only regret that we cannot see the screen from where we sit.  That's not because the artistry will suffer, but only because I want to watch. 

Last week I joined the Executive Director and the Music Director of the SBSO at a downtown Lunch and Learn event to talk about the Chen piece that I am performing in a few weeks.   It was a pleasure to do - I love to talk about the oboe - and hopefully we opened the door to some new listeners!  Here is more or less what I said:

Hi, I'm Jennet Ingle.  I am the principal oboist with the South Bend Symphony.  And the Northwest Indiana Symphony and sometimes the Chicagoland Pops Orchestra.  I teach oboe at Notre Dame University.  And Goshen College, and Valparaiso, and privately at my home.  I have a professional reed bus…

Preparing Chen

I am preparing Extase, by Qigang Chen, for a performance on October 23.  This will not be news to readers. 

Now that I am just a few weeks out, my preparation is changing.  For months I've been sweating the big technical passages.  Double-tonguing, especially in those lower left hand notes that want to crack anyway, was not previously a strength of mine.  Actually, a year and a half ago I would have said that I couldn't double-tongue at all.  It's taken a lot of patient work and a major overhaul of my reed-making to get to where I am now. 

Since late summer I have been working hard on the memorization of the piece.  A lot of runthroughs, a lot of listening, a lot of formal analysis and score study. I know the piece very well now, and have a clear understanding of what happens when.  My current plan, though, is NOT to play from memory.  There is no piano score, so I haven't been able to run it through in any sort of collaborative way.  If I had a way to feel out the ent…

Upcoming Concert

This weekend I am performing with the Heartland Festival Orchestra in Washington, IL.  The group is a relatively new arrival on the scene - it did not exist when I used to work regularly in central Illinois.  What I know about them I know because they have an impressive web presence.  I certainly see more of them in my Facebook feed than any of my actual orchestras, and now that I am here in this small town I see their posters and publicity up everywhere.  Other regional orchestras should be paying attention to this!

The concert itself is an absolute pleasure for me - I'm working with friends and colleagues that I haven't seen in years, and playing Beethoven, which is always a treat.  On the downside I am four hours from home, missing my family.  But does every gig not have its upsides and downsides?

Teaching Ewazen

I almost always have a solo program of some sort that I'm working on in addition to my orchestral concerts.  And I have occasionally needed a new piece for a student and had nothing on me besides my own music - so sometimes I will teach a piece I am simultaneously working on myself. 

I don't like it.  For one thing, it can be hard for me to hear another person's interpretation when my own is so vivid in my head.  So I might correct the student's phrasing to mine instead of listening for and accepting the thoughts they have about the music.  For another, I don't like showing them up by performing a work that they have in progress.  It just feels mean.  Maybe it doesn't make them feel bad about themselves, but I can't help feeling a little guilty. 

But I'm having a great time right now.  I'll be performing Eric Ewazen's concerto, Down a River of Time, with the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra in November, and I have two oboe performance majors at tha…