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Showing posts from April, 2013

Zoe is Awesome

Zoe and I went for a Big Wheel walk.  In other words, she big wheeled, I walked.  We traveled around our tiny neighborhood block once. 

First, she pressed a “button” on the handlebars and asked Siri for directions to the corner.  “Siri, take me to the corner please - directions for Zoe Ingle.”  She listened intently for a moment and then we were off.

Before we even made it to the corner, she was Tigger, and pretended that her big wheel was bouncy.

She found a little branch that had fallen off a pine tree, and explained that if I waved it from side to side it was red, but up and down made it green.  We then had a “rally race” which consisted of a lot of flags and stopping and starting. 

She stopped and hung her head.  She was a sad Minnie Mouse, because it was “raining a robot rain and her bike basket got wet.”   We pressed a “button” to magically dry her bike basket.

She drove intentionally into a yard, and became a sad Minnie Mouse, because her bike went into the “mud”.  She and I wo…

Upcoming Concert - Final Masterworks!

I haven’t written, I know I haven’t written.  It’s because I’ve been blissing out all week on this orchestra concert.  We’re playing Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier Suite and Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde - and both works are just so expertly written and orchestrated, and so breathtakingly romantic and beautiful, and so exhilarating to play - that I haven’t felt like talking about it. 

My orchestra is playing beautifully.  I love working with my colleagues here.  It’s been a pretty good year, artistically, and I can’t believe that this is our last concert.

What else happened this week?  My mother was visiting from out of town, to help us with Zoe as we both had a lot of services and schedule complications.  And because little girl adores her gramma, I was actually able to rest a little.  Catch up a little.  PRACTICE in a focused way.  Go for long runs with a friend and get self-reflective. 

I feel ready to face the next few weeks - the end of the regular orchestra…

Oboe Reed Boot Camp: Your Official Invitation

Calling all oboe students, teachers, and parents!

Is anyone else frustrated with reed-making?  It seems as though there is never enough time during oboe lessons to really get a handle on this difficult skill, and during the busy season it's hard to make time to practice it, too.  In some ways, the fact that I make so many reeds every week is a negative, because my students can come to rely on my big case which is always full. I find that I enable students to not make reeds.

Having good reed skills is a tremendous advantage to a student, though.  At college, or out in the world, or even over the summer when lessons are out, it is liberating to know that you can take care of your own needs without having to rely on your teacher's physical presence.  When you arrive at your concert and the weather suddenly changes or a flute player crushes your best reed, it is invaluable to have the skills to pull something else out of your case and adjust it to your comfort level.

This summer I w…

Upcoming Concert - Altered States!

I am so excited about the performance I have Tuesday night.  
Chicago's Fulcrum Point New Music Project is presenting a screening of Ken Russell's 1980 film Altered States, with a 75-piece orchestra performing John Corigliano’s Oscar-nominated score.  The music is amazing.  Trippy.  Difficult.  And I get to be involved!
I’ve done these kinds of gigs before - accompanying a film in real time - and it’s always challenging, both musically and technically.  The material we are playing is often demanding, and the constraints of the format means that the tempo markings are non-negotiable.  We have to start right on time, and play as fast as we have to play, and if things get off we have to make immediate and sometimes unnatural-feeling adjustments.  The job of the conductor, of course, is even more complex than usual.  The more technology is involved, the more he has to be on top of, and the less he controls, if that makes sense.  There is little room for human flexibility and inte…


You know I am training for a marathon.  I’m not near the level of Boston, the Mecca of Marathons, but I could imagine someday being.  My dad ran Boston a number of times.  I had friends running today. 

Two weeks ago I was ready to give up on my marathon training.  Clearly I was just not meant to run such distances.  I had had that cold back in early March, and the bronchitis, and had taken about a week off from my training schedule.  When I started back up I had one sort of OK run and then everything went downhill fast. I was stopping short of my mileage goals and getting nowhere near my pace goals, and generally felt lousy about the whole endeavor.  This lasted for almost three weeks, or “forever” in runner’s jargon.  I wanted to quit. 

The worst thing about a running slump is the mysterious feeling of getting progressively worse.  Of fighting a losing battle against your own limits.  Of inexplicably sliding further and further backwards.  It would have felt better to stay on the cou…

Upcoming Concert - Mahler!

We are playing Mahler 2 in Northwest Indiana this week.  I love this kind of work.

The Resurrection Symphony is not my favorite Mahler piece, but there’s just nothing else that feels like playing Mahler.  His writing stretches both the individual musician and the ensemble to play louder, softer, more beautifully, more characterfully than any other composer.  I could spend - did spend - hours looking at the part.  Not because the notes are hard, but because he gives us so many markings and they all have meaning.  Different shaped accents, slurs over slurs, an enormous range of dynamics, and many many tempo and character words in German - everything on the page is important and needs to be studied, translated, and considered as a way to communicate. 

Music is never merely music for Mahler.  Every movement has meaning, and every phrase, and every note.  Trying to do justice to his markings and his intentions can be the work of a lifetime. 

I love the challenge.  The concert is Friday nigh…

Star Spangled Feeling

You know, when you are a professional musician, you kind of don’t get taken in by the theater of it all.  The music can be beautiful, and moving - but your job is to move someone else, which takes a calculated effort and a level of detachment.  Aside from my genuine enjoyment of the interaction, and the synergy, and the admiration of other people’s efforts, it’s rare for me to have a real personal moment of response to the music itself.

Here in South Bend, we have been heavily involved all week in presenting Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.  I’m sorry I didn’t preview the concert on my blog - I always intend to, as part of my personal mission to bring people to concerts, but this cycle was too overbooked for me to manage it.   The War Requiem is an astounding piece - a large-scale work with multiple choirs and two orchestras and three soloists and a lot of complex and unfamiliar music to learn.  We worked hard on it all week, and various internal details of hiring and resource allocatio…

Women of the Wind: Brandon: Three Desert Fables

We got our recording back!  And I am so pleased with the way it came out.  I would love to just stream the whole thing, but one thing that did not come across was our speaking.  Most of it was cut out, and what you can hear is dim and unclear.  What I’ll do, then, is share one work at a time, and include my introductory material to give it some context. 

The composer Jenni Brandon lives in Southern California.  I first heard of her at the Double Reed convention last summer when a friend of mine played her reed trio.  I thought that the piece was spectacular and got in touch with her- and she promptly sent it to me along with this solo work, Three Desert Fables, which I am proud to present here.

The piece is about symbiotic relationships shared in the biome of the desert.  The first movement explores the Joshua tree itself and its partner the yucca moth.  The moth lays its eggs in the tree's flowers, and the larvae feed upon its seeds, but the moth also serves to pollinate the tree …