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Showing posts from June, 2012

A Piece of Advice

This is for the students:

Use your good reed.  I have been hearing students struggle all week on their scrappy second- and third-best choices, or worse.  The rationale is always that with concerts coming up they want to save the great ones for performance - but it doesn’t work that way.

Reeds change.  One day it’s 79 degrees, and the next it is 95, and the reeds can tell.  You can’t know which one will work for you on concert night.

Reeds can sense fear.  They get all hard and weird and stiff when you have solos.  Any reed you select for your performance you will second guess within the first 10 minutes anyway.

You get used to what you are playing on.  If you are fighting all week with a reed that won’t permit you to make dynamic contrasts, or enter cleanly in one or more registers, you aren’t practicing doing those things.  You aren’t accustoming your colleagues to expect them from you, and you are not raising the bar and challenging them to bring their own best work to the table.   Eve…

This Can't Be Wrong

OK.  I haven’t written in a while, because I haven’t felt up to it.  I have no idea where my career is going, if anywhere at all, and it’s been getting me down.

I think of the barren lands that have been completely deforested by generations of humans overusing their trees and wonder what the woodsman felt who chopped down the very last one, leaving a sea of stumps where once old growth forest had lived. 

I am approaching the very last recital on my calendar, and I am realizing that the entire spring season went by without me working to procure more engagements, and also without anyone contacting me for any, and I find that very discouraging.  After my July performance at the Chicago Cultural Center I have no further solo gigs lined up, and I have been frankly depressed about it.  I understand that it is my job as a freelancer and an entrepreneur to make these opportunities for myself, but it is so exhausting.  Somehow this end of my job has never gotten easier and I have no idea how to…

Upcoming Performances

I’m currently devoting my energy to Doug Lofstrom’s Concertino for Oboe.  I premiered this terrific piece in 2007 with the New Philharmonic, and repeated it later that same year with the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra.  I’m playing it twice more this summer, though with piano rather than orchestra. 

First, Tuesday evening June 26, at 7:30 pm, on the Dake Summer Chamber Music Institute’s Faculty Recital.  It will be in the Little Theater at St Mary’s College in South Bend, and is free and open to the public. 

Second, at 4:45 on July 9, for the International Double Reed Society Convention in Oxford, OH. 

This Concertino is beautiful, tonal, and extremely well suited to the oboe.   It’s a one-movement work - played without breaks - but takes the listener on an emotional journey.  The opening is lush and rich, and its soaring quality is not lessened by the number of notes I have to  squeeze in.  The cheerful little hornpipe in the middle is goofy and fun, but with an undercurrent of…

Reeds While Practicing

I like traveling, and I love summer for summer music festivals.  But if I’m not careful I can fall into unhelpful habits.

Normally, at home, I have practice sessions, and sessions of reed work.  I do both every day, so I pretty much always have a new reed or two coming up, and I frequently use my morning practice time to break in the new ones.   Then I’ll use something older and more comfortable in rehearsals or concerts, and in a  few days the new ones will move into that category.  I usually don’t play brand new reeds in public, and usually don’t practice on proven ones. 

But now it is summer.  My reed business slows waaayyyy down at this time of year, and I am traveling, and it’s not necessary to spend hours a day sitting at a reed desk.  I would far rather use this lightly scheduled festival to get out in the beautiful Upper Peninsula and hike and explore with Steve.  I don’t need 10 new reeds every day to keep up with demand - in fact, I don’t have an order up right now and don’t …

Upcoming Operas

We are on our way up to the Upper Peninsula now for a week of Mozart with the Pine Mountain Music Festival.  Cosi Fan Tutte will be touring the region, with performances in Iron Mountain, Marquette, and Calumet, Michigan. Details HERE.  The reduced orchestration is not without its challenges, but this is a time I always enjoy.  The area is beautiful, the schedule is light, the orchestra is full of my friends, and Steve and I get to play together, which doesn't happen very much during the regular season. 

Currently, at this moment, we are stopped in Milwaukee with a flat tire, but that dampens my mood not one whit.  Opera is fun, Mozart is wonderful, and an easy-going road trip with my husband is a rare pleasure. 

I love summer.

Good Gig

What made this week of Bach so great?

It’s not merely the music - though it’s hard to get much better than Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.  This work is nearly three hundred years old but utterly timeless.  It feels ancient and contemporary at once.  There are odd movements that make my brain hurt, rhythmically and harmonically, and others that are as simple and joyful as can be.   I am not a church-goer, but I can respect a good story, told transcendentally well, by one who believed it deeply.   It makes me want to believe, and I cannot praise a piece more highly.

It’s not merely the people, although the group is terrific.  Many of the players at the Peoria Bach Festival are normal.  Human.  People I would play with at any other gig and not notice, particularly.  Friendly, cheerful colleagues but not friends.  Somehow in these concerts we came together in pursuit of a common goal, and there was something tremendously special there.

A piece like this requires so much concentration.  We have t…

Upcoming Concert - Bach in Peoria

I am in Bach heaven this week.  The Peoria Bach Festival is performing the Christmas Oratorio this Friday and Saturday night.  We started rehearsing last night - and the piece is just d’amore aria after d’amore aria.  Duets, quartets, solos.  Chorales.  Fun, beautiful, blissful. 

If you are anywhere near Peoria, IL, I would strongly suggest coming out for this one. 

Details HERE.

Perceived Effort

This spring, I have been running by Perceived Effort.  My sports watch died last fall, and I haven’t gotten around to a new one.  Also, from our new house, I have a general idea of the distances of my various routes, but I haven’t GPSed them precisely, so most mornings I go out to run ABOUT three or four miles, and I look at my tiny wristwatch with no second hand or even minute subdivisions on the face and note the approximate beginning and end times of my run.  On my “speedwork” days I just run fast for a while and slow for a while, measuring time by the number of breaths I take and pace by how hard it feels.  I figure if it feels hard it’s probably fast, and if it feels REALLY hard it’s probably really fast.  In this way I do a variety of different kinds of workouts, and while I’m not going to be an Olympian any time soon, I have been keeping myself more-or-less in shape and working on my speed and endurance in a good-enough-for-now way. 

But Perceived Effort is not actually good en…