Tuesday, January 29, 2008

snow snow snow

So we got LOTS of snow - still coming down. Can't get out with any of our vehicles except the Dodge Ram so I have been home since Sunday. When I took the Dodge to church for the fabulous bells; surprisingly ALL my ringers showed up! They sounded great. And my boss gave me her comp tix for that afternoon to the Big Symphony. They were playing Shostakovich V!!!! And they are in a new hall since just before Christmas and we haven't been there. It was AMAZING - beautifully restored and the sound is incredible. The orchestra blew me away. I was so glad to be there, and it was fun because the Mysterious G (my oboe coach) was playing the first piece (something new 8 min long - I wasn't wildly impressed) and he sat with us during the Shostakovich. We actually played it last year - a great experience but in a different league!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Yay - our movie concert is over! No more stupid arrangements without oboe/bassoon parts! No more bass drum (sad, that was fun). On to the Black and White Ball (I'm sure the oboe parts will be great for that).

Interesting thing is that we were supposed to get 10 inches of snow tonight - weather is pretty awful, but warmer than expected, so there is snow/slush/ice everywhere. But I got home ok - took the big red truck(4wd) and had no real problems. And best of all I think most of the sold out house was there too!

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Why do people play all kinds of stuff during the tuning note? I guess this is an oboe player's obsession, no one else probably even notices. I stress more during those long As than any other time, at least for this concert. I worry about if it will be in tune (always use a tuner) and if it has good tone - when I've gone to hear the great ones (eg Cleveland, Chicago types) the A is glorious every time! I just want to hear that person play one note, it is so good. Of course, no one is yakking or playing some cello concerto during the tuning...to be fair, no one in our little orchestra does that on concert night (thank God). Just a little thought for concert day.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

baby chimes

Last night I "did" the youth group again - I wouldn't really call it conducting, but it went really well! I printed big staves on 8.5 x 11 paper, and then I put giant notes on there with one of those huge markers, about one measure per page. I decided to make the music look pretty much like regular music, but I put colored dot stickers in the middle of each notehead (since most of the kids can't read music). Then I taped about 4-5 measures together, so each song has 2-4 lines of music. As you can imagine this took me HOURS to do, but I just watched tv with the boyz and it was kinda fun.

I thought it would be fun to see if they could identify the piece with no title (we did Twinkle Twinkle, Jesus Loves Me, Michael Row the Boat Ashore, Amazing Grace and Holy Holy Holy) We will pick two to play for service in February.

It was great, I just used a cue stick from the youth pool table to point at the notes (they don't know how to count either), and they sounded great! I did have them all doubling octaves, which was perfect since usually at least one person played each note. We'll see about memorizing or using this "sheet music", which is huge and I have not idea how we could use it during church service without having a huge portable easel or something (I taped the pages to the wall for practice) I was just happy that the kids were able to make music (that sounded the way we wanted!) in such a short time - how cool is that? And they will have at least a rudimentary idea of notation...one girl even asked why some of the notes were hollow (half notes), so they were paying attention. yay!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

CSO review

Ok, someone I know sings in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, and this review is like the critic was in love or something. The orchestra gets less loving treatment (except the new EH player, I'm sure Felix would be proud)...

Orchestra Chorus give Haydn, Ives pieces texture and sizzle
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Donald Rosenberg
Plain Dealer Music Critic

All hail the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. Week after week, members of the volunteer organization gather from points across the region to prepare for performances with the grand resident of Severance Hall.

The chorus played a major role in the orchestra's first subscription concert of the year Thursday, participating in works by Ives and Haydn under music director Franz Welser-MÖst. The program's second half began with the presentation of the orchestra's 12th Distinguished Service Award to Gerald Hughes, a member of the chorus' bass section for 50 years, since the days of Robert Shaw.

Hughes made a gracious speech before returning to the ranks for Haydn's Mass in D minor, which is subtitled "Lord Nelson" to honor the British admiral who was prominent while the composer was writing the piece. The Mass is another supremely inventive and poignant example of Haydn's genius, abounding in disarming melodic, harmonic and textural turns.

Much of the material gives the chorus a healthy workout. Haydn employs the accumulation of voices to animate and shade the various sections of the Mass. From majestic declarations to whispered utterances, the chorus is the principal communicator of spiritual fervor, with vocal soloists providing occasional input.

The chorus, prepared by Robert Porco, did a fresh job, whatever Haydn has requested. The Latin text came across clearly, and the interweaving and balancing of voices was sure. In the sunny moments, the chorus sounded like the happiest ensemble in town.

The orchestra and Welser-MÖst did their utmost to maintain Classical decorum, as is this ensemble's wont. They were joined by a fine quartet of soloists: soprano Twyla Robinson, mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor, tenor Thomas Cooley and -- most imposing of all -- bass-baritone Andrew Foster-Williams.

Worlds away from Haydn is Ives' Psalm 135, an anthem-processional the iconoclastic American composer wrote in his late 20s. The score has touches of the innovative spirit that made Ives so distinctive, notably in terms of harmony and instrumentation (trumpet, trombone, timpani, drums, organ). But it mostly adheres to tradition, and the chorus sounded firm in its duties.

Between Ives and Haydn came one of the most popular works in the repertoire, Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 ("From the New World"). Welser-MÖst and the orchestra will play the piece during their second residency this month at the newly dubbed Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County (formerly Carnival Center for the Performing Arts).

By the time they arrive in Miami , the score could become a coherent statement. Aside from Robert Walter's sensitive English horn solo in the slow movement and other moments of Cleveland-style glory, Thursday's performance was brusque and ill-defined, with too little consideration for Dvorak's touching lyricism, bucolic charm and robust splendor.

Movie night

We are playing movie music for our Family concert - much of it is not that great. But hopefully the audience will love it; a partial list is Superman, Star Wars (nice eh solo but I'm not playing), Saving Private Ryan (can't remember the piece but it is slow and pretty), Harry Potter (do you sense a John Williams theme?), a Mancici medley (NO oboes or bassoons), James Bond medley, Looney Tunes at the orchestra medley (surprisingly fun) and the part everyone knows from 2001. But they rehearsed the Enescu Romanian Rhapsody on the 2nd half of rehearsal (this is for the March concert), it is delightful and I can't wait.
TOday I MUST make reeds, it would be nice if I actually practiced too - have been procrastinating due to what appears to be the longest cold ever.

Catch up

Can't believe it has been so long since I posted - so to review: Sunday went well at church. I got to play three times and my reed was respectable.

Then I submerged into sickness again until Wednesday when I was forced to come out and do bell choir. The scary new thing was working with the kids (2nd -5th grade), when I got there I was informed there would be 16-20 kids, twice what I had thought. But it went pretty well, most don't have any music background beyond rote singing. I was going to try color coding the songs, but since we didn't get to any songs I still haven't tried that. Maybe next week. HOPEFULLY I will actually meet with the children's director this week, we seem to have trouble connecting.

Bells was surprisingly good - two more ringers than I had expected! Which is great, since I am hoping to do some harder music this year so we can play at the Spring Ring. No one screamed in protest, so I assume they have forgotten how hard the last massed ring was.

Quote of the Day...

This idea ripped off from Patty at oboeinsight - I love this quote from a 19th century German critic:
“Brahms did not play the right notes,” he wrote, “but he played like a man who knew what the right notes were.”

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Queen of Organization

So I drove off this morning without all the music I so carefully got for my meeting...But I think it went very well anyway! Turns out the minister had asked for a cantata on Easter, and we already have a piece that will work for Palm Sunday. Now I just have to find some descant for We 3 Kings (tomorrow).

Friday, January 4, 2008


We had our first rehearsal Thursday, it was kind of lame due to the extremely awful arrangements of movie tunes we are doing. I actually love movie themes (I believe this concert was actually my idea) but I want to do the "real" scores, not some nasty jr hi edition. Oh well, we only have three more rehearsals, and we are starting on the Enescu Romanian Rhapsody next week during the 2nd half. Yay! Real music. I supppose I am mostly annoyed because there are no lovely oboe solos. What kind of movie music doesn't have oboe solos????

I appear to be playing in church Sunday though, tomorrow we are having a music planning meeting so I guess I will get music then. I actually went to the music store and got samples of a bunch of bell/choral Easter stuff (so organized). Unfortunately we will have to buy it if we want to play it (I mean us personally, since they church is having some sort of monetary crisis). But fun to look at anyway. I really like the other two musicians on staff, so this should be kind of fun.