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Showing posts from September, 2013

Dear Candidate

Dear Candidate,

You asked me for feedback on your audition.  I’m glad you got in touch, but I don't have anything very specific to tell you.  My notes have been shredded and I am not a specialist on your instrument.  That said, I do remember your audition - you were in the last preliminary round that we heard and I did actually vote for you to advance.

It's an unfortunate thing about auditions.  On the committee side of things, we can't help but grade on a curve. In other words, as we hear and advance candidates we become more and more aware of the level that is possible, and a perfectly competent audition late in the day might not advance whereas it might have early on.  The sad reality is that easily two thirds of the players we heard could have done a great job on the job, but we had only one position to offer.  The even sadder truth is that this very small orchestra was able to attract candidates who were really superstars, and should absolutely be out there making fo…

Breathing and the Brain

I’m working on the Bach E Major Partita, and it’s significantly difficult for me.  Not so much the notes, although E Major is not the most effortless key on the oboe.  Not so much the music-making, although I could work my whole life on solo Bach and never be perfectly satisfied with my choices, because it’s that complex and THAT good.  No, the problem is breathing, and breathing is always a challenging thing for a wind player.

Oboists can play long, long phrases with ease. The opening in the reed is so tiny that it really rations the air, so we can play longer lines than any other orchestral wind instrument.  It’s also comparatively easy to circular breathe on the oboe, which means that we can actually take in new air while  playing and maintain an uninterrupted line.  The downside is that an oboist can never fully expel her air through that tiny opening.  We end up with excess carbon dioxide in our lungs, and as we breathe in again the new good air stacks on top of the old and we fin…

Independence

Zoe got herself lost in the grocery store again today.

“Mommy, can I look at that?” she cried over her shoulder as she scampered off.  I continued to shop.  Ten minutes later I was paged and collected her from the service desk - she had found a nice lady with kids, asked for help, and given her name and address and my name and indeed the grownup did know what to do and everything worked out just like it was supposed to.  Again.


Zoe’s never liked to ride in the cart - she’s an active person and doesn’t want to be pushed luxuriously through the store as someone else does all the shopping.  This would be yet another way that we are different, I suppose.  So we instituted the Shopping Rules, which she knows well and can quote to me as we enter any place of business.   She is not to touch things, not to run away, and most importantly to STAY WHERE SHE CAN SEE ME. 

I liked this rule because it put the burden of staying close with her instead of me.  After all, I had my own reasons for being …

Transcribing Mendelssohn

I’m working on a variety of pieces for my spring recital program, “Music that Should Have Been Written for the Oboe, Part Two”.  It’s an ambitious program - the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, the Bach E Major Partita, Gershwin Three Preludes - and more works still to be determined, I’m sure.

When I did Part One of this program, ten years ago(!) I prided myself on performing from the original parts.  In other words, I was reading the Dvorak Cello Concerto in bass clef and tenor clef and with the original double and triple stops in place, and relying on my preparation to remind me where I had decided to jump up or down an octave or which of the multiple notes I had decided to play or how exactly I had modified a given lick.  I was reading a Debussy piano score and following my little penciled arrows from one interior line to another.  I had memorized a few pieces just to accommodate the page turns - and to show off.  All of this took a lot of time to prepare, and a lot of repetition to cem…