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Showing posts from May, 2012

Learning Bach

I have more music to prepare, and more work to do, but I had to play Bach.  I have been very busy and I will be again, but for this two weeks I am not, and I am in recovery from the season.  I needed to play Bach.  The very first day that I was not on the clock or cramming for an audition or a performance, I was rooting around in my collection for some new Bach to work on.  I needed it deeply.

The work of organizing, interpreting, and planning in a brand new (to me) piece is my favorite kind of practicing.  I have loved the past few days of exploring the E major violin partita and reading through big chunks of it just to get the shapes and patterns in my head and under my fingers.  Today, though, it was time to really roll up my sleeves and start digging.

The first movement, the Prelude, is four straight pages without a rest or a pause.  That’s not the hard part- I can make room for breaths where I want them.  The most difficult thing is organizing how to work on this sea of notes, so…

Zoe is Polite

We went for a walk by the river.  As an older man went past with a little dog, Zoe excitedly beelined for them.  She loves doggies, but stopped short of mobbing this one and politely asked permission to pat her.  The man was clearly impressed - Zoe is so little that it is always surprising how articulate she is.  She patted the dog and played with her, then said, “Thank you.”  He responded, “Thank YOU,” and we all went on our way. 

Mommy, she said urgently, That man said, ‘Thank YOU!’
Yes, Zoe.
He was supposed to say, ‘You’re Welcome!’

So we talked about what those words mean.  Both versions are perfectly OK.  He meant that it was a pleasure for him to meet her and talk with her, and he was thanking her for being so polite and nice.  Sometimes in the store, the cashier might say Thank You (for shopping at my business) and I might respond Thank You (for checking me out and bagging my groceries).  Or I might say Thank You to someone holding a door for me, and that person might say You’re W…

Discipline Stinks

Zoe doesn’t like to go to sleep.  Recently, we were having a particularly rough evening.  She kept reappearing in the family room as Steve and I tried to unwind in front of the TV.  Finally, when orders and bribes had failed, and the whining had not ceased, we made good on our threats and closed her bedroom door.  Ignored the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Chose to finish our program.  Once the howling and demands for freedom had finally died down, I went in to check on her, planning to dole out a final kiss and douse the lights.  I discovered at that point that she had pulled every toy and book she owned onto the floor, and removed her own (clean) diaper and tossed it onto the pile.  She was curled up, puffy-eyed, fast asleep on her bed in a huge puddle of urine.

I would have felt better if I was working or doing something important or worthwhile.  But prioritizing television over my daughter while she cried herself to sleep in the midst of filth did feel a little petty.

A…

The Power of Metaphor - or Metaphors of Power

When I was in great shape - like last year, and the year before, and the year before that, I loved the feeling of strength that running gave me.  Finding that extra gear in a race and being able to lengthen my stride and float past my competitors felt the same as having the power to project in the orchestra - to bring the oboe’s voice effortlessly to the fore, after subduing it in an accompaniment or tutti section. That sensation of deep power and ease was a link between my two loves.

Now, I have to admit that somehow this spring has caught me unawares.  I have been working a lot, and traveling a lot, and parenting a lot.  I’m not doing speed work, or long runs in an organized way, and I haven’t run a race yet this season.  I feel a little sluggish, and a little fat, and I feel that way on the oboe as well.  In my practicing recently, I’ve been aware that I’m really straining for big dynamics.  I’m playing with a forced sound that I don’t particularly like.  And it’s been a little diff…

I'm Back

It’s been a rough few weeks.  For no good reason, really - I’ve just been feeling left-over as the season comes to an end, and a little tired of the oboe, and the driving, and the meetings.  I drag myself to my practice room and force the excerpts, and the reed-making, and retreat as soon as I can justify it.  Nothing feels particularly great, and both of my oboes have cracks that need attention that I haven’t had time to give them.  I’ve been running, but as a respite from playing and not as a project in itself - my fitness is not where it should be at this point in the spring and I’m not doing any real training.  Things came to a head recently when I warmed up carefully and mindfully, played my scales and and etude, and turned right around and left the room.  Nothing was going to make me stay there any longer.  I played my concert that night - and then left the oboe in its case.

I think this is a natural part of the cycle.  I hit this wall over and over again in my life, and it seems…

Upcoming Concert - GLEE!

Tomorrow night’s concert in Northwest Indiana, “South Shore Glee” is just what it sounds like - a bunch of high school choirs (and our own Symphony Chorus) singing familiar songs.  And you know I am a sucker for a show tune, but even I am kind of dragging myself through these rehearsals.  The medleys are brutally dull for the orchestra - we’re just a backup band - and there’s not even one moment I can find to cherish in my own part.  Nothing to look forward to showing off.  It’s all just kind of medium playing, not hard enough or exposed enough to get excited about.

BUT.  This concert is not about the oboe, and it shouldn’t be, and sometimes my job is just my job.  I don’t have to be on the edge of my seat, excited and nervous and loving every piece on every program.  I understand why we are doing this concert - the audience will like it, the parents of the kids will come, they will see the symphony, we are making connections in the community, etc.  I know that our conductor will do a…

Why Can't I Write?

Why can’t I write?

I can’t seem to have any ideas or focus this month.  I have impulses for ideas, as I am sitting in the orchestra or driving, and I make notes about them.  But I can’t seem to turn them into posts, or even particularly smart ideas. 

I’ve been busy - but I don’t actually believe that I’ve been any busier than normal.  The college year has just ended, so I have 1 and 2 half additional days in my week now, and although I did just travel to the East Coast for a major recital that I had been working very hard on as it was a different program from the two self-produced recitals I delivered a month earlier, and although I am working on promoting my Reed Boot Camp and learning a fairly unusual excerpt list for an audition and reviving the Lofstrom Concertino for a performance at IDRS in July, and trying to determine a recital program two weeks later, and although I just played the Rite of Spring this evening, I don’t see why all that and an active 2 year old should prevent me…

Upcoming Concert

I'm on my way out in a few minutes to drive to Fort Wayne for rehearsal.  We're playing The Rites of Spring this weekend, and I think this is as excited as I've ever been to play Fourth Oboe and Second English Horn in an orchestra.  It is only the second time I've played Stravinsky's ground-breaking, riot-provoking ballet, and I hope not the last. 

The concert is Saturday at 6, and details are HERE.

I Take It Back

Tonight’s concert was spectacular.  I admit that I had questioned the programming.  I doubted that four piano concertos, with the orchestra subservient to the soloists, would be a convincing way to end the symphony’s season.  I thought I’d be bored and invisible the whole time.  I assumed that the students from Toradze’s studio would be competent, but I really didn’t expect them to be thrilling.

The wind section maintained some friendly bets on what the soloists would wear.  I am proud to brag that I nailed them all, with the exception of the third soloist - but I don’t feel too bad as NO ONE COULD HAVE IMAGINED that she would come out in teal.  Complete shock to all of us.  No points awarded.

The energy of the concert was great and kept getting better.  I got the sense that the young soloists, partly because of their comparative inexperience, were all thrilled and happy to be there.  They each came out and outdid themselves in enthusiasm and deep understanding of and love for the music…

From One Extreme to Another

So over the weekend I was in Philadelphia, and Paul Hamilton and I performed CHROMA on a new-ish concert series at the Delaware County Community College.  It was  a lovely little venue with a great piano and a perfect video setup, and I had a wonderful time chatting with the nice audience afterwards.  The presenter suggested that we take questions at the end of the program, and as always I really enjoyed talking about the oboe, and the circular breathing, and the terrific music we played and the beautiful video presentation Paul created for us.  



Here's a sample of the fun we had -

My life seems to swing from one extreme to another.  From featured soloist to invisible accompanist.  Next weekend in South Bend we are playing four, count ’em four piano concertos.  Mozart 21, Prokofiev 1, Rachmaninov 2, and Chopin something-or-other.  It will be fun, I’m sure - I like to play - and no doubt the soloists will be top-notch.  (Here's the Tribune article about the great Toradze studio…