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Showing posts from March, 2012

Marking the Parts

When I see a piece of music on my stand, the pencil markings of the previous performer can really tell me a lot.  About that performer, usually. 

Frequently I see notes about which fingering to use for F or Eb.  In a tricky passage, this is often very helpful.  Sometimes EVERY F and Eb in the entire part is marked - this is just silly. 

Often the dynamic markings have been changed or circled.  Neither is particularly meaningful, as the previous performer was most likely not playing on this exact stage for this exact conductor, with the same colleagues, and was probably not me.  Therefore, what his conductor told them about the precise level of their solo is not relevant right now.

I have seen parts where the previous performer did such a careful and tidy job of changing the dynamics and articulations that her marks were indistinguishable from the composer’s, which led to a lot of frustrated apologizing in rehearsal when I thought my part was correct and, subsequently, a lot of erasing…

Upcoming Concert

This particular version of insane in my life - over 3000 miles on my car in the last TEN DAYS, 19 services (rehearsals, recording sessions, and performances) including 2 self-produced recitals, and as many students (not that many) as I could squeeze in around the edges - is finally ending.  If I've posted nothing other than shameless self-promotion I am sorry.  It is about to be over.  I will become smart and interesting again, instead of merely competent and punctual, which is absolutely all I've been able to manage since the 20th. I love what I do but this has been a rough set.

Tomorrow afternoon I am playing a St Matthew Passion at the University of Chicago.  It's one of the greatest pieces EVER written, and I am playing the least stressful oboe part in it for a change, so for me it is three hours of enjoying everyone else's awesomeness and loving being on that gorgeous old campus.   Great orchestra, astounding music.  Details are HERE.

And on Monday my normal life …

Honest Physicality

The most interesting comment I received after my Moveable Feast performance last night was not at all one that I expected.  My sister said that her favorite thing to watch was the physicality of my breathing.  I would calmly play long phrases, either taking small inhales and exhales or circular breathing, and then when I had a longer rest I would really breath hard. At those times, she said, it became obvious how difficult and aerobic the act of playing actually was, and it was all the more impressive when I would then grab a quick inhale and jump right back into playing long, controlled phrases.

I was a little embarrassed.  I always strive to hide this side of things.  The oboe playing should appear effortless, so as not to distract from the music-making.   I don’t want the audience to know how hard I’m working, or to see me get all hot and bothered.   I consciously try not to gasp or show visible strain.  But it’s also the case that I respect the physicality of other instrumentalists…

Why am I Nervous?

It’s finally the week of my Moveable Feast performances!  I’ve been working for months to prepare this version of this show, and am excited about finally bringing it to fruition.  I perform a lot, and I do recitals with some regularity, but this spring performance every year is the one that makes me the most anxious.   

This is the set that I self-produce.  It’s not part of some other series, it’s not a South Bend Symphony event, it’s just me.  

I am highly trained as an oboist, but I have no real idea how to produce or promote a concert.  I am making this up as I go along.  Every year I magically find just enough audience members to make it a performance (and usually a few more than the year before), but every year I am terrified that I won’t.  That the combination of Facebook posting and poster hanging and email blitzing and event calendar filling out that I labor over  in the month leading to my event will fail me. 

I’m really not nervous about playing the music.  I know my mate…

Upcoming Concert

We're playing a chamber orchestra concert this Sunday in South Bend - "More Than Mostly Mozart."  It should be lovely -Ballet Music from Idomineo, Marriage of Figaro Overture, the Jupiter Symphony, and a bunch of arias with Katherine Larson. 

What could be more pleasant than a little short Mozart concert in a beautiful hall on a Spring afternoon?  I'm looking forward to it.

AND I have a pair of comp tickets to give away to the first interested responder.  You can comment here or email me privately.

I'm Back

I haven’t been writing about practicing lately, because I haven’t been practicing.  Somehow, even though I have recitals coming up, and more performances right around the corner, and recordings to make, I’ve been in a complete rut.  I know I am not perfect, but the music on my stand has been there for so long I am bored with it and have been struggling to find things to work on.  It doesn’t help that the weather is so terrific and I only want to get out in the sun and run my winter flab away.  My playing is not going to improve itself.

I was whining about this to a good friend the other day - the kind of friend who will actually listen to this sort of self-indulgence - and right in the middle of my diatribe I solved it.  Idly reading through my repertoire as though I have to perform it in a few weeks is not motivating - I have to work on what I need to improve, and focus my attention on one or two things at a time.

I made a list of elements that I can pay attention to:

A Moveable Feast

Jennet Ingle What's Going on? Ernest Hemingway famously said,” If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
That statement is so fantastically romantic,  and his entire era of expatriates boozing around in the City of Lights so exciting and compelling, that I simply had to capitalize on it.

Here, finally, is the program I've been looking forward to all year.  In this travelogue performance, we’re presenting delicious music representing Tunisia, Naples, Peru, Cambodia, Nigeria, Scotland, and other exotic locales.  Paul Hamilton and I will play some great works by Pasculli, Ibert, Tomasi, and Ewazen.

I have always loved the popular music of the 30s and 40s, and am delighted to collaborate with cabaret artist Justin Hayford.  We’ll do a set of location-based songs from the American Popular Songbook.   Although we have worked together before (I’m on t…

Upcoming Concert

We are playing Beethoven 6 this week in the Northwest Indiana Symphony.  It’s been years since I performed this piece, and I had forgotten.  Forgotten how lovely the tunes are, and how intimate the instrumental dialogues are.  Forgotten how long it is, but also how perfectly structured.  Forgotten what a pleasure it is to play music this great.

NISO weeks always feel long because of the driving - the venue is just over an hour from home, but the time change on the way home means I get in after midnight every evening and by Friday I am really ready for a full night of sleep. 

But this week, especially, I don’t regret a thing.  It’s a treat to play, and it will be a great concert, and you should come.

Details and tickets HERE.

Upcoming Concert

I love our programming this week in South Bend - we are “Inspired by the Bard”.  We are playing Mendelssohn’s Overture to Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Shostakovich’s film music to Hamlet, and Walton’s Henry V.   This concert combines two of my favorite things - interesting, unfamiliar music and spectacular, timeless words.

For details and tickets click HERE.