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Showing posts from January, 2012

The Magic of the...Viola?

I love a wind instrument.  It feels so personal, mainly because the breath is so integral. We inhale, we send air through the instrument, and we can’t play a phrase longer than we can breathe.  It feels so organic, and so intimate.  I coached a college wind sectional this morning, and loved- just loved- the earnestness that the kids brought to the table.  Wind players struggle, and sweat, and grunt.  It is hard to translate the air that your body needs into musical phrases, especially complex, deeply felt phrases that reflect a viewpoint far removed from college students in southern Michigan.  Our goal always is to transcend the instrument, and the physical process of playing, and make beautiful music through it, and with it.

Rehearsing the Bartok Viola Concerto tonight, I was reminded that playing a string instrument is so different.   On the one hand, it is much more removed from the body - when air leaves the equation it is completely possible for a person to play without singing, a…

Upcoming Concert

We are playing Rachmaninov’s second symphony this weekend in South Bend, and I have always liked it very much.  It’s beautiful, extremely romantic, challenging enough to be fun but not so hard that I have to practice it every minute.  The musicians in general are very enthusiastic about it and the orchestra is playing well, and we have enough rehearsal time to prepare and play successfully and enjoyably.

But I wasn’t personally excited about this weekend’s concert until we rehearsed the concerto this evening.  I had not heard the Bartok Viola Concerto before (aside from listening to it this week to prepare) and I find that its stark harmonies and odd atonal-yet-folksy licks are incredibly satisfying to hear and play.  Our principal violist, Gabriel Schlaffer, will be the soloist (he joins us tomorrow) and I am absolutely eager to hear his beautiful sound join our orchestra in this fascinating VERY late Bartok work.

The concert will be terrific, and good for the soul on a snowy northern …

What I'm Trying

I am still, yes, still working on how to approach my audition mind.  I wrote about this before HERE and HERE.

As I practice for this month’s audition, I am trying to get away from working solely on the music.  Of course the music is important, but I know these concertos and excerpts.  I’ve worked them out a million times, played them in auditions, and even performed most of them in the orchestra, and my basic plans are in place.  I am trying now to get myself into a good, focused, clear mindset before each one.    I want to use my breathing to launch myself into a place of focus.  If I can get to where I need to be with a few mindful breaths, perhaps I can control the time and my mastery of the stage while I’m in that crucial ten minutes. 

So, I play an excerpt.  I make sure I know how I want it.  Then I stop, breathe, and try to find my way to the timeless place, the place where I totally know what I’m doing and I can turn the scorekeeper off and just enjoy playing beautifully.  This …

A Rough Start

First off, let me say that I am so happy to be starting up again.  I haven’t sat in an orchestra since December 21st, and I hadn’t played any “real” music that wasn’t holiday related since November.  So it was a pleasure to reconvene with my colleagues this weekend and play some good old Beethoven and Haydn.  We did some very nice things.  Some beautiful things, really - the trio of the symphony,  or the second movement of the concerto, to name a couple.  However.

You know that anxiety dream you get, where it’s curtain time and everyone is pushing you out there and you are the leading lady but you don’t actually know the aria, or the blocking, and actually you don’t even know how to sing because you are really an oboist, but the audience is all there and they are waiting for you?

That’s how it felt today when our string players had to perform Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge on two rehearsals.  Coming into the weekend, I didn’t know about this monster of a work or grasp the challenge that lay ah…

Upcoming Concert

We have a great concert this weekend in South Bend.   Beethoven’s 8th Symphony is always a treat, and we’ll also be featuring our principal trumpet, Steve Orejudos, in the Haydn Trumpet Concerto. 

I love hearing my colleagues perform, and it’s always particularly exciting when the soloist is a wind player.  The Haydn is one of my very favorite non-oboe concertos, and Steve is an outstanding musician, so this should be a special event.  ALSO, we get to play at the lovely DeBartolo Performing Arts Center,  and for all of these reasons I am  looking enormously forward to Saturday afternoon. 

Details HERE.

She's Gone Again

In 2002 Steve had a one-year position with the Oregon Symphony.  I was working steadily in Chicago, and didn't want to jeopardize the network we had built up, so I stayed in town.  We visited back and forth a few times, but I lived in my apartment and he lived in his, and it was fine.  In some ways, I really enjoyed it.

I had never lived alone, after all.  I had had a roommate in college, and had lived with Steve basically since we met.  I found that I easily got used to eating, practicing, and sleeping on my own schedule, and I liked being able to walk into a room and see the book I had set down exactly where I expected it to be.  I missed him, but I'm pretty  self-sufficient.  I got my work done, talked to him on the phone, and lived my life.

The challenging part was when Steve's position ended and he came back home.  Suddenly my apartment was our apartment again, and I had to relearn how to live hour to hour, day to day with another human being.  Of course I loved him, b…

Writing About Auditions

I love auditions.  I genuinely do.  I like how preparing for an audition makes me a much better player, and I like playing the audition game.  I like having the opportunity to play on some of our country's great stages, and I like performing for a committee of great musicians who are listening closely to every note.  I like traveling and seeing my friends and colleagues in the waiting rooms.  I like advancing, and I really like winning.

But I don't like talking about auditions.   Every time I write about auditioning on this blog, I squirm in my seat.  I edit and re-edit, and publish an uncomfortable over-worked little piece that doesn't really express what I want it to, and I've been trying to figure out why that is.

The audition scene is insanely competitive - we routinely see fifty or more oboists come out for a single job opening.  Every one of us has prepared to our very best ability and traveled at our own expense to the audition site.  The process lasts a grueling …