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Showing posts from June, 2013

Upcoming Concert - Amazing Soloist

We are up in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula this week, performing with the Pine Mountain Music Festival.  This year, disappointingly, we are not presenting an opera, but I have been enjoying the symphony concert. 

The highlight for me is Sibelius’s Luonatar - it’s the shortest work on the program but a thrillingly dark and intense ride.  Our soprano soloist, Mary Bonhag, is absolutely marvelous.  Her sound is rich and pure and colorful and ashen and huge and intimate and perfect.   The liquid sounds of the Finnish language resonate deeply with the ancient mythical poetry of this work, and Mary brings an otherworldly quality to the performance that just sends chills up my spine, in the best way possible. 

She is fascinating to watch as well.  When I see great instrumental soloists play with us I am often struck by their combination of physical relaxation and perfectly honed muscle control.  This is something which immediately stood out to me about Mary’s singing.

As she stands aro…

Finishing Happy: My Marathon Story

This was not the race I wanted.  I had plans and goals.  I had worked hard.  And what did I do?  I went out too fast - at a fun and comfortable pace rather than the very conservative one recommended by the running magazines- and stayed joyfully ahead of my own goal pace for 10 miles.  Then I sank back into my goal pace for about 5 more.  Then I began to feel some twinges from my IT band, an old injury that had not arisen once during training.  I ignored it and ran a little more.  The twinges started to be pain.  I stopped, stretched, continued.  Stopped, walked, went back to running.  Knew that this could not be happening!  I was prepared!  I had made it uninjured to the start line - this was supposed to be my triumph!  But no. 

By the time I got to mile 18 I couldn’t deny that I was having a real ITB flare-up.  It was really painful, and, more to the point, I remembered how long it would take to heal if I did real damage.  I scrapped my time goal and devoted myself to walking.  I cha…

Bach Story

Funny story.  The third movement of the Bach Concerto for Oboe and Violin is four pages long, but in my part there is a lovely 3 bar rest at the page turn so it is never a problem for me.  The unfortunate violinist, though, plays throughout the entire movement and can’t easily get the page over, so there’s always a little issue there.  Some players just rip the page over while playing - somehow - or have someone else turn for them, but most work out some sort of photocopy arrangement, which still requires two stands, or one expanded stand, or at least a perfectly situated part.  AND that third movement comes almost immediately after the second, so everything really has to be in place well in advance. 

I performed the Double Concerto a number of years ago, with an orchestra that I will not name here. The violin soloist was VERY anxious about this page situation, and the performance in general.  She spent quite a bit of time pre-concert setting up her stand, JUST SO, and making sure tha…

Working on Sound

I got this question from a student recently, and thought it might be of interest to others.

While I have been practicing, I've been listening to Allan Vogel's recording of the Saint-Saens Oboe Sonata on Spotify and have tried to imitate his sound for the pieces I'm working on.  It's been going ok with the Telemann Fantasy, but the 3rd movement of the Kalliwoda has been a bit of a problem for me.  Since the piece is a bit more exciting and bouncy, it's difficult to maintain a darker and smoother tone.  How would you suggest approaching this piece in order to maintain a good sound?
This is such a good question, and an complicated one.  Making a beautiful and uniform sound over the whole instrument is crucial to a developing oboist, and listening to great players like Allan Vogel is a great way to proceed.  Allan Vogel playing Saint-Saens will certainly take a different approach than (hypothetically) Allan Vogel playing Kalliwoda, yes, but I bet if you froze your reco…