Skip to main content

Musicians for Michiana - The Programming

This is Part Two in a series of posts about Musicians for Michiana.  (Part One HERE) All social mission aside, the whole point of a chamber music series is the music, right?

There’s something a little frustrating about being an orchestral musician, which is that you never get to choose what you play.  The programming takes place in an office far away from your place of work, on the stage, and you just have to show up and do the job at hand.  I love my job, but this lack of control is an inescapable downside. 

In contrast, a small series like ours with a small number of enthusiastic musicians can program works that really matter to us.  Every piece on every concert was suggested by a musician.  Every piece has a personal story associated, one which we will certainly share with you during the performances as well as here, on the website, in advance.   Yes, many of these works were my suggestions, and yes, there is a lot of OBOE represented on the series - but it is important to me to keep this project collaborative and I expect that in future years the programming will be even more excitingly eclectic than it is now. 

How eclectic is it, you ask?  We have music composed two hundred and fifty years ago, music from one hundred years ago, and music that is still being written.  We have music by Mozart, Milhaud, and Ibert - European white men with real reputations - and music by contemporary American composers you probably don’t know yet, like Jenni Brandon and Jeremy Gill.  We have music by local composers, living right in this town - Marjorie Rusche and Steve Ingle.  There’s music for string quintet and reed trio, but also for more unexpected combinations like oboe and two percussionists, or clarinet and cello.

In some cases, these are pieces I have ached to perform for a long time.  The Britten Phantasy Quartet, for example, on our February 2 concert.  Like all of Benjamin Britten’s works, it is deeply intelligent.  There is a lot of complexity in the construction and in the harmonic language, which of course I completely dig - but it’s also got a terrific energy arc, taking the listener from the softest string pizzicatos through an intense march to a beautiful, liquid oboe cadenza and all the way back to a single cello note.  Perfect.

In other cases, the works are quite new to me - Jeremy Gill’s Soglie, Serenate, Sfere is one example.  Jeremy and I were at Eastman together, and he lived across the hall from me, and accompanied me on piano for at least one performance, and composed a piece for my oboe trio which we played for our final senior recital, and has the same birthday as me!  In other words, I’ve known and respected him for years, but I do not have a long history with his large-scale 2009 work for oboe and percussion.  I’ve heard a recording, I like it, and I have two outstanding percussionists on board, but I have no idea what the performance experience will be like or what to expect when we begin rehearsals.  Can.  Not.  Wait.

Although we have our plans very much in place for this year, we’re always looking for additional ideas for future seasons.  Please feel free to get in touch.  Let us know what you’d like to hear.  In fact, how about this?  Donate.  Connect with us.  Be involved.   It’s more fun when you have some ownership in the project, as I’m learning.   Would you visit our Indiegogo page and consider offering some support?   Every little bit helps, and if you can’t donate, would you at least tell your friends?  All of them - the Mozart lovers and those who want something new and extreme.  The musically literate and those who want to sample our tasting menu. 

Later in this series: The Musicians.  The Music.  The Organizations.  The People.  The Venue.  The Success of the Fundraising Venture.  Stay tuned!



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Discouraging Words

I can remember at least two old cranky violinists coming to talk to young me about NOT going into music.  There was a session, for example, during a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra retreat in which a real RPO professional (who was probably 47 but whom I remember as ancient) told us that, statistically, no one who graduates from music school wins auditions for jobs because there are only like 4 jobs out there in the world and 7000 hotshots coming into the job market every week. 

Quit NOW. 

I may have misremembered the details of this speech, but I remember the emotional jolt.  It was designed to discourage.

Last weekend I was presenting at a Double Reed Festival, and heard some oboists grumbling about another presenter who had evidently given something of the same talk to a roomful of masterclass attendees and participants.  High school students and cheerful adult amateurs.

And look, there's an element of truth to this.  Classical music is not a growing field, and it is leg…

Shaq and the Oboe

Here’s my FAVORITE thing about that Shaquille O'Neal video everyone's sharing this week - it’s how HAPPY he is playing this silly game and how little he CARES what the oboe actually SOUNDS LIKE or how to play it. 
Almost as if the oboe is not a giant obstacle to overcome.

Instead of focusing on the CRAFT of the instrument, the precise fingerings, the quality of the sound, the finesse of the vibrato - his focus is on DELIVERING the SONG.   It’s on COMMUNICATION, not perfection.


What a LIBERATING concept!


When I am playing my best, I find that I can surpass the STRUGGLE and come to a place where my focus is on communication.   I can sing through the instrument, and I can use that voice to reach out and find someone else.  This is really what being In the Zone means for me - it's when I don’t have to engage with the OBOE and instead can be generous with my VOICE for the audience.


I seek and strive for this Zone all the time - it’s the whole point of practicing! I practice long…

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

We took a vacation this summer.This is not news to anyone in my life - anyone who knows me or especially Steve on Facebook followed along with all of our pictures.We took our travel trailer out to Arizona - via St Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Roswell, Santa Fe - and then stayed a week in Clarksdale and Flagstaff and visited some ancient pueblo ruins, Sedona, Jerome, the Lowell Observatory, the Grand Canyon.We swam in swimming pools, lakes, and icy mountain streams.We hiked.Eventually we came home again, via Albuquerque, Amarillo, Tulsa, and St Louis. (our inventiveness had somewhat worn out).After a week at home we took another trip, and drove to Vermont via western NY and the Adirondack Park (stayed an extra day to hike a mountain), lived four days in East Franklin VT, and came home via Catskill and eastern Ohio.
This vacation felt different from all of our previous ones.In the 21 years we’ve been married, I can name only one - maybe two trips we ever took that were not For Work or For …