Sunday, April 13, 2014

Backwards practicing

I have always practiced all my major scales pretty much every day. But this week I started playing from the top going down instead of my usual way, starting at the bottom going up a couple of octaves.  Who would've thought this would be complicated any way? I am surprised that even though I have played these exact notes on the way down nearly every day for four decades, when I start at the top I really have to think about what comes next! Who would've thought I had neglected such an easy thing. I guess there really is no limit to what I can practice. 

Monday, March 17, 2014


So funny that my last post was entitled "the end of things". Since then, it has been revealed that my little orchestra is struggling to even finish this season financially. I am hopeful that we will at least make it through this season but the future is not looking super shiny. It really breaks my heart to think that through mismanagement we may lose this wonderful organization! 

We just finished our young artist concert, symphony played well and of course the soloists were all stellar. We were supposed to do symphonie Fantastique for our final concert in May, but apparently this is out of the question now. New repertoire has not been decided yet, it has really stressful. They're hoping to put something together in less rehearsals to save money. 

The theater is having a benefit, for which I will be playing oboe. It appears to just be a bunch of love songs from Broadway musicals, called "easy to love concert package". It appears to be just the songs with no storyline at all. Should be fun, and it's so much easier with just one instrument! Gypsy (opens in May) looks like I'll be playing at least four things, won't know for sure until we get the books and decide how to divide things up. 

In happier news I am trying a Loree Royale oboe right now, is used but seems to be in very good condition. I will decide next few days if I'm going to take the plunge. It's kind of tainted by the fact that their may not be a symphony next year, where will I play this fabulous instrument??

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The end of things

Finally some of my insanity is ending! 
The oboe audition is over, and while I didn't win or even get to round two, I'm sort of impressed with myself for getting it together enough to present myself at this crazy point in my life! I played ok, but ok is not the standard at auditions these days-- even podunkville 2nd oboe auditions! There were some fabulous players duking it out, and I got to meet some great people. Slightly sad I wasn't in the running, but I'm really happy I won't be making that 4 hour (one way) drive!

Today is the last show of Crazy for You. Bittersweet really, so happy to get my time back but I will miss my "pit mates" - hahahaha! What a good word. The poor conductor never got the hang of actually conducting from the piano - sad since the band is really good. But we will mostly be together again in May for Gypsy, with yet another new music director. 

Symphony doesn't start up for another week, so my sax 4tet is taking that rehearsal time, we have a little mini recital at the end if February. When I'm not insanely busy, playing in sax 4tet is really fun- I play Bari and it is so different from my oboe stuff. 

In the aftermath of the audition, I wonder where I should put my energy, I'd like to focus on reed making for a whole, and I'm thinking hard about IDRS this year and the fancy new oboes there- but is it worth it? I think I'll never get that big dark sound out of my old Loree. It needs to be overhauled anyway, and I will probably sell my old Laubin. All speculation for now!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oboe Audition

Everyone knows that auditions only come at the worst possible time, and this one came along unexpectedly in the middle of all my madness! It is in Little Brother's Town, about 4 hours away, so I'm not really hoping to win the audition, but I'd love to get "second" place - where they may call me to sub a couple times a year. Also, it is a good thing to update one's resume and go over those excerpts we all know and love... I can't believe the last time I updated my resume was 2005! Seems like I must have another one around somewhere, but that is the latest one on my computer. I have finally removed all the school ensembles from my list of groups, and it still looks pretty full. I sound impressive on paper anyway! And it is exciting to realize that some of those nasty excerpts are lurking around in the back of my brain still. I'm hoping to get through everything without a major crash. The only excerpt I have never done is the 2nd oboe part of Brahms 2nd symphony, mvt 2. All low articulations very soft - my worst thing! But amazingly I played it great tonight, we'll see what the reed Gods have decreed for next week.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Back in the pit

Doing the show Crazy for You, must say I thought it would not be very hard, and in some ways it's not, but it has certainly been a challenge! I'm playing parts of books 3 and 5, so my instrumentation is oboe, English horn, clarinet, and bari sax.  I like playing the bari part even though it's a pain to put the two books together. Especially for my sub, who can only play clarinet and sax. No one else in town can cover the oboe parts, guess that's a sort of job security!

Of course one show is not enough, i'm missing opening night of Crazy, because the symphony is playing our family concert. We are doing PDQ Bach's  Beethoven's fifth - it's a sportscast (you can find on YouTube) funny funny funny. During the cadenza I get to have an altercation with the conductor, and I win, while he gets a 42 bar penalty! 

It always seems like there are so many gigs all at once, and then nothing for months. Next week, between shows for crazy for you shows (5/week for 5 weeks), is the Black & White Ball for the symphony. The chamber orchestra plays big-band, pops, light classical and jazz stuff– I will play oboe and bari sax.

It seems like a lot of stuff going on now, but when I read it down it doesn't look like that much. Guess I'm just tired, it is opening week for two different things after all! And of course I do nothing but play music, the rest my life goes along smoothly and perfectly. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

European tour

Well, I just got back from my tour of Europe with the Cleveland Orchestra! See, there I am, in the back row, on the right...wearing red...
Hahaha-- yes I'm there but as a guest, it was really fun and I had an amazing view of the oboe section. It was odd to be behind the orchestra (NOT what I expected) but pretty cool to see the conductor's expressions. That is an amazing group of musicians. 

In my little world, just finished an long run of Les Mis at the community theater, we had our Pictures concert combined with the college orchestra, and I played bach's Wedding Cantata, certainly one of my all time favs! Prior to that was my first experience as the orchestra manager for a production of Rigoletto, which I also played. That is a lot, playing AND taking care of all the details, but what a wonderful experience. I feel like my playing improved hugely during those two weeks- really want to continue that. 

Now looking forward to another performance of Pictures (2nd oboe/EH this time) and Brahms Violin concerto, which has a big oboe solo all violinists are jealous of. Not a lot of Christmas gigs this year, but that is good since January looks busy (5 wks of Crazy for You, Family concert and Black & White Ball). 

I've been making reeds again, seems like the baby excuse is pretty lame when the "baby" is 12! Really hate leaky reeds, trying to become the expert on sides that seal every time. Also have decided response must trump sound, this has been my downfall and I'm not going to stand for it any more. That being said, it's been two weeks since I've touched the oboe (European tour, remember?!) so I'm off to practice. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

It's that time of year again...

I'm feeling bloggy today. Here's what is going on up on Mica Peak musically - I am the contractor for the local opera this year! For the orchestra part at least. This is a new experience for me and I'm kind of intrigued by it! Several people who really never gave me the time of day before are cozying up to me, kinda funny. But I'm so excited to hear how the group I've pulled together will sound, our first rehearsal is next Tuesday. The opera is Rigoletto - and I did hire myself to play! The symphony's summer concerts are going really well, nothing big for me but that is FINE. We are going Pictures at an Exhibition, Candide, Cappriccio Italian and Polovtsian Dances for our season opener, that ought to be good. But wait, there's more! I'm also opening 5 weeks of Les Mis with the local theater. So glad it's an oboe/eh show instead of a 5-6 horn show. I suppose I will have chops of steel by the end of October, and I will need them because... In November I'm playing the wedding cantata! This is an endless stream of beautiful oboe-ness (as so many Bach arias are!) but there is not a rest to be seen. I'm pretty excited about this as Bach was my specialty (so to speak) back in the day - and no one does baroque music around here, at least not with me. After all that there is a short break before our symphony christmas concert (Brahms Violin Concerto - also known as Brahms secret oboe concerto). But during that break I'm touring Europe with the Cleveland Orchestra! Yeah, ok - they didn't exactly hire me...but I'll be hobnobbing with the elite! Does that seem like enough stuff? I guess I should mention I've been making reeds again, my source has kind of dried up and it seems like my nearly 12 yo is not the excuse he was 12 years ago! Extremely happy with my eh reeds - but I'm looking for fun varigated thread. I'm tired of boring one-color thread. Someone gave me this great blue vari and I want more - hate the multi color stuff though - too much. I like the more subtle change of color. Isn't reed making fun?