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Showing posts from April, 2015

Upcoming Concert: Brahms and Beethoven

“This is the music that made me be a musician.  I could have been a vet but THIS music pulled me into music.” “This is too pretty to play piano.” “It’s just one of the most beautiful pieces.  Ridiculously beautiful.”
These are actual comments - from before and during our rehearsal - by my actual colleagues.  Grown up, professional, working musicians who have been around the block a few times and don’t lightly get starry-eyed about just any South Bend Symphony concert.  
We are playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a piece which is incredibly popular and beloved, for the reason that it is great, great music.  This will be probably my fourth or fifth time performing this work. Still, when I pulled my music out to prepare, I got excited.  It’s so dramatic, and so beautiful, and so perfectly and effectively written for the instruments so we don’t have to strain to be heard and everything just fits. It’s a rare treat.  
We’re playing the Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn, which is just …

Oboe Reed Get Togethers

Reed making is a highly personal experience.  You strive to make the reed that makes your own instrument sing, and through playing on your reeds you learn how to make what you need to play your reeds.  Although I can play perfectly well on another person’s reed, and I certainly make plenty of reeds for others, it’s inherently a solo project.  You make them alone, you play on them alone, and sometimes, alone, you can get a little crazy.
But the craft itself doesn’t require solitude.  In fact, some of my most positive experiences have involved other people.  Someone else’s ear or opinion on the sound you are making, someone else’s proposed technique to solve a problem - you can learn a TON from each other, and obviously enjoy a great social experience at the same time.
I’ve taught and participated in many reed classes, and had many great one-on-one reed sessions with colleagues.  Sometimes I have information or techniques that help the other people, sometimes they provide an AHA moment…

Another Bach Story

This has never happened to me before.  Last night we were to rehearse the concerto for our Northwest Indiana Symphony concert this Friday - the gorgeous Bach Double concerto for Oboe and Violin.  It’s a piece I’ve played about a jillion times before and ALWAYS enjoy.  It’s fun to collaborate differently with different violinists, and to hear what they do and to react to their phrasing, especially in the sinuous, sensual slow movement.  And sometimes funny things happen, funny because they weren’t my fault.
But last night I was the only soloist at the rehearsal.  Our violinist had accidentally been double booked and couldn’t attend - so with the conductor and my orchestra colleagues we ran through the Bach Double…single.  
And you know how much I love to perform, and to play in front of an orchestra.  Just drop a hat, and I’ll play a concerto.  And the more soloistic and exposed the better.  But EVEN I have to admit that the Bach Double Concerto is a better piece of music when there …

Re-Preparing

This month I am working on two concertos that I already know.  I’ll be performing the Bach double concerto for oboe and violin with the Northwest Indiana Symphony- on April 17- and Eric Ewazen’s gorgeous Down a River of Time at the end of the month at a semi-private event.
Since I’ve played both pieces before, multiple times, it’s easy to underestimate them.  To pick up the oboe for a practice session and noodle a little, and spot check the hard licks, and assume that I am ready to go, since both pieces HAVE BEEN memorized and under my fingers before.  Of course, when that was the case I was a different player, at a different place in  my life, with different things on my mind.  When I was working on them before, I was working on learning them, or memorizing them, or playing them within the context of a different concert, or recital, or with different colleagues.  On a different oboe, for that matter.  
I have vivid memories of being on stage with the Ewazen, performing it effortless…