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Showing posts from August, 2012

Inspiring Auditions

All this week I have been sitting on audition committees for my orchestra.  In three days we listened to 4 basses, 6 cellos, 3 oboes, 19 horns, and 11 tubas, many of them two and three times each.  We hired winners in every case.

 I LOVE auditions.

I am always inspired watching the Olympics, because I love seeing athletes work and strive and succeed.  I love imagining the work that has gone into each performance and I have such respect for the human body - for humanity, really - and for the power of focused effort.  But auditions, now - that’s MY field.  I know exactly what goes into that preparation, and I’m drawing ideas for my own future auditions - and I’m hearing the wealth of talent that has come to perform for US.  It’s humbling.

I could think of it another way, and become terribly depressed - that so many high caliber players would come to try out for a job as small and regional as the South Bend Symphony has to be a very bad thing for the future of classical musicians.  There ar…

Learning by Struggling

We are driving back home to Indiana.  The Breckenridge Music Festival has been a great experience for me - a five week experiment in being totally out of my comfort zone.  

I am used to being the principal oboist of a small regional orchestra.  I am used to being a strong presence in the group, because of my position and because I am very good at my job.  I have the personal confidence to speak in rehearsals and meetings, and people know who I am.  In contrast, for more than a month I feel that I’ve been scrambling to keep up with an orchestra full of great musicians, and trying mostly to fly under the radar.  Both roles are new to me. 

In the first place, I am not an English horn player.  I have always been able to kind of get around on the instrument, and play the solos, but that’s very different from being able to sit in a high-quality professional orchestra week after week and confidently make soft entrances, at altitude.  Early on, it was a struggle for me to predict the response…

Coming Back

When I have taken time off from the oboe, I dread going back.   Even if I crave it, and desperately wish I was active again, I fear those initial few notes.  The reeds are unrecognizable in their case - WHICH one did I use for that last concert?  Is THIS one any good? - and feel uniformly horrid. I’m not quite sure whether I am soaking them up enough.  The instrument is clumsy under my fingers.  My lips feel puffy and unresponsive.  Although I know the oboe better than almost anything else, the first day back feels awful.  It seems that I’ll never get back to the freedom and ease and authority that I left behind.  Sometimes the expectation of that discomfort can keep me away for another day or even two.  I can let time pass, wishing I was playing but unwilling to work through the re-introduction. 

I’ve been playing the whole time here, don’t worry - but for the first time in my life I feel about writing the way I do about the oboe.  I let this blog go - heck, I let any thoughts of rea…

Olympic Inspirations: Line

First, the gripe.  Why do the women gymnasts have to do all of these goofy, stagy, choreographed arm movements?   The men don’t do them.  If I wanted to watch ballet I would watch ballet.  In gymnastics I am impressed by the astounding athleticism and the skills I could never do (not that I can dance either).  These girls have been coached to wiggle their arms and torsos around in pre-determined ways during their routines, and in most cases these gestures are meaningless and distracting.

But occasionally there is one who gets it.  One whose gestures seem to communicate something, and who flows from one pose to another in a way that is beautiful, and who makes a coherent performance out of her series of movements.

As far as I can tell, there is no room in the scoring system to acknowledge these artists - the tenths of points just keep being deducted at the same rate for the missed landings and minor form breaks - but as a spectator, I appreciate their care and their commitment to the rou…