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Showing posts from May, 2013

Creating Momentum

I couldn’t get started yesterday.  After I warmed up on the oboe, I played a few notes of my concerto.  Then I tried an excerpt or two.  An etude?  Nothing seemed to take - I wasn’t having fun or finding things to work on or feeling the magic at all.  I was scattered and uninterested.

So I thought I’d work with my computer a bit.  I opened a text window to rough out the mission statement for my new chamber music series (curious yet?), and jotted down a few words.  But it wasn’t flowing.  I toyed with Wordpress to start a website for it.  Didn’t really get anything going.  I thought I’d explore fonts.  Typed my name a jillion times and refonted it over and over.  This was obviously a make-work project - simply me grasping at anything, ANYTHING to feel productive.  Didn’t work.

I tried responding to emails.  That was all right, but when I went to compose a new one - info for  newly enrolling students for next year - I again hit a block.

All of this took place in about 45 minutes, to give y…

Getting to "Go"

I’m going to run a marathon!  I did not believe I could ever get to this point, but I’ve done my last long run, and I’m tapering just like the training plan says, and after June 1 I will be a marathon finisher.

Honestly, I’ve never been worried about my ability to complete a marathon.  I’ve been in enough hard races - where running turned into short walk breaks which turned into long walk breaks which turned into walking - to not be afraid of that option, and if walking is an option I know perfectly well that I can finish a marathon.  I do have a time goal, which I’ve been revising over the course of my training, and I still don’t know whether I can achieve that or not.  But I know I can finish. 

I just wasn’t sure I could start.   I had never run more than 13.1 miles, and I have tended to get ITB injuries when my mileage goes up, and I WRECKED my knees seven or eight years ago in an olympic distance triathlon that I really hadn’t trained well enough for.   I was prepared to get half-w…

Upcoming Concert - B Minor Mass!

This is it - the end of the season.  My own orchestras wrapped up several weeks ago, but I've been lucky enough to be working steadily until now.  After tonight I have two weeks off and then the summer festival season will launch.

And what a way to end!  Bach's B Minor Mass continues to be one of the most amazing pieces I've had the honor to perform, and although I get tired while playing it I don't get tired OF it. 

We're presenting it tonight with the Vesper Chorale in South Bend.   I love my life.




Beauty of Sound

In our dress rehearsal Saturday afternoon, the conductor did exactly what I often do to my students - he asked the violins to play more beautifully, and they did.  He didn’t tell them how, or give them a flowery expressive speech, he just asked for more beauty of sound, and they immediately gave it to him. 

To a great extent the sound we produce is set, based on our equipment and the shape of our mouths and our bodies - but it can be altered, too.  Adjustments in reeds and instruments can go a long way, but the key change we can make is in our own minds. I don’t know how to explain it physically, but if you determine the sound you want to make you can produce it.  Or at least you can lean in and approach it. 

This is something I’ve been paying a lot of attention to lately in my own playing.  As I prepare the Saint-SaĆ«ns Sonata to perform on our Oboe Studio Recital (tonight at 7 - details HERE), my approach is largely about beauty of sound and vibrato.  I chose the piece because it is …

Upcoming Concert: Beethoven Nine!

This week I am playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.  What an absolute treat!

It has been years since I last subbed in this orchestra, and they have a new music director - David Danzmayr -  who is simply marvelous.  In our first rehearsal Monday night, I was impressed with the improvements he was able to make in the group,  the simplicity of his requests and the immediacy of our responses to them.  He never raised his voice or got excited, but simply made corrections in a friendly, cheerful manner and expected them to happen - and they did!  This very pleasant work environment is a delightful change from some other regional orchestra experiences I’ve had, and I’m looking forward to the next few rehearsals and the concert.

What is it about Beethoven Symphonies?  I think I will never get tired of playing this music.  You know that I am crazy about twentieth century repertoire, and even newer material - but all old music was new once.  Beethoven just …

A Freelance Week

You know, freelancers get no respect.  We respect each other, sure, but if I meet another oboist and we start comparing resumes, there’s a real difference in status between the person with one job in a full time orchestra and the person with multiple smaller jobs.  Even though a busy freelancer might actually earn more in a year, or may have higher quality musical experiences much of the time, there’s definitely a stigma attached to that lifestyle which disappears for the person who can state their employer and position in one simple sentence.

But the freelancers I know are some of the finest musicians I have encountered, and the couple of weeks I am engrossed in right now well represent the challenges and joys of the job.

During these two weeks, my own orchestras did not have big concert cycles, but I am certainly bringing in my share of the household income.  On top of my regular teaching (there would have been more if all of the colleges were all still in session) I worked with five …