Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas lull

Finally here, the Christmas lull! Every year it seems like I have this insane couple of weeks in early December, then nothing. Which is ok! And I have filled the musical lull with LOTS of other stuff, like gift shopping and parties and even a concert I'm NOT playing.

The overview since last blog, I played for the local colleged in their Pictures at an Exhibition on English horn, so fun to just sit there through the crazy chicken dance and out-of-control children (oboists know what I'm talking about!); just some purty stuff here and there. The orchestra did another Messiah this year, and then our christmas concert with a world premier of my friend WBs American Carols - 13 mvts for orchestra nd chorus. Some nice moments for the oboe but nothing huge. Also did 8 mvts of Nutcracker, way underrehearsed but fun since I never get to play those. I feel kind of sorry for my friends in the big symphony who play it so many times they just hate it.

For Christmas eve J and I are playing a duet - trumpet and clarinet(!) and it's kinda jazzy! Should be fun. Also some descanty bits for the hymns and a couple oboe arrangements of carols. AND I'm so excited to be playing in the bell choir, great to not be in charge.

In January I'll be judging for the concerto competition, always stressful but I really enjoy being involved. Later that month we have the symphony ball, hopefully I will get to play some bari sax on that, but then I'd have to lug that thing around which is a pain. I do love getting to play though!

Friday, November 4, 2011

English horn

So, why do I even bother playing the oboe??? If I play 3 bars of EH, and 3 hours on the oboe, people flock around and rhapsodize about my EH playing! Which is great, and I love it too. But it makes me feel really insecure about my oboe playing. Gurk.

Right now I'm doing Beauty and the Beast for the 3rd production, this is my first time being the only wind player. Literally - there is keyboard (poor woman!) bass and percussion. And me. I suppose I could have played some clarinet, but I'm just playing it all on oboe/eh. Mostly playing books 1 (flute) and 2 (the actual oboe book), but also lots of trumpet, clarinet and violin stuff. Just trying to help out the keyboard whenever I can. I am not really enjoying it, so stressful! The pretty stuff is usurped by the necessary parts, so I'm leaving a lot of my favorite lines out. Oh well, getting the big $$...

After this show I have an actual break though, SO looking forward to it although I have the freelancer's fear of never working again. But I know there will be a rush before Christmas, and they've asked me to play Annie (no oboe, eek!) in May.

BTW, Jane Eyre was quite fun, lot of playing (we did it inconcert) but nice melodies, great cast. And FULL orchestra. Sometimes I get annoyed when the flute or trumpet is doubling my line, but after this fiasco of playing EVERYTHING alone I will strive to be more grateful to my fellow musicians! Of course there are shows that one wind is plenty, but B+tB is so grandiose in places - one little oboe sounds pretty thin.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Go Cougs!

Here I am in the alumni band - holy cow! It's been far too long according to my sore body - but lots of fun. Seems so long ago now, a whole week past! Finally done with Millie - I notice my last post I had just finished with Full Monty. It has been a while!

I played Faust with CDA Opera, truly a wonderful musical experience, played with top notch musicians. Glorious oboe bits all through, but especially at the end when Margaurete ascends to heaven and the oboe resolves the huge chords over the entire ensemble. Chills!

Then I played with the local college on the Ravel Piano Concerto - HUGE English horn solo in the fancy theater! It was fun but I felt so insanely busy at the time, wish I could have enjoyed it more. My favorite part was the next day I went to coffee with my neighbors who happened to go to the concert, and they said - why did you stand up at the end? (!) I guess they didn't notice the nearly 3 minutes of EH solo in there - perhaps they dozed off? hehehe

Our little orchestra had the season opener - Beethoven 7 (which starts with a fabulous oboe solo of course), Fingal's Cave and Mozart Double Piano. The Mozart was really lovely, and the new 2nd oboe really did an amazing job! She plays so in tune with me, and we had all those neat Mozarty harmonies together - it was just a great experience. I think the whole concert was some of the best playing this orchestra has ever done. Unfortunatly only 350 people came to the concert. It is really a shame.

All through this was Thoroughly Modern Millie - I split the show with the 2nd oboist (SS) who plays all the saxes and flute extremely well, I think her clarinet playing is about on par with mine though! Millie had oboe/clarinet/tenor/bari (SS played flute as well) and just carting all that to the theater is a workout! The music was really fun, sort of 20s jazzy stuff but way hard for my limited saxophone chops. About 5 minutes into the first rehearsal I realized my ancient Conn Bari was just not going to be able to move around that fast - also it didn't have a low A which is called for quite a bit in newer shows. So I went out and bought my midlife crisis item - a BRAND NEW bari sax. It is beautiful, plays great - the action is so smooth I can actually play faster on it than the tenor! And it is super fun to play the low A, which shakes the ground.

Yesterday was the closing matinee for Millie, and we started rehearsal for Jane Eyre! REALLY poor timing, but it is a benefit and will only run this week. And I'm only playing oboe/English horn, which will be a nice change. The music is great, lots of nice oboe bits, and the singers are really fantastic. Lots of fun belting about how hard life is...could you fit more angst into a story? So that wraps up Saturday night and then D will have his birthday party on Sunday! And Saturday afternoon we start rehearsing for Beauty and the Beast. I'm so wiped out I can't think straight. Oh well, gotta take the gigs when they come right?

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Can't believe it has been almost a month since I posted - but Full Monty is finally over! I'm kinda sad, the best shows are still fun to play after a few weeks, but it's always nice to get the evenings back. This week has been filled with non-musical stuff, although today I played oboe and RECORDER in church! Hehe, guess now that I'm a pro (played 4 bars in Full Monty) I can play recorder everywhere.

We are actually getting a group (consort) together just for fun, maybe to play in church sometime, but I'm excited to play the tenor and maybe get the alto (pitches are transposed so it's harder) up to speed. Soprano and tenor are really similar fingerings to oboe, so I'm pretty good considering. Fun times.

Our next musical endeavor is playing for the LC Parade on the 4th - I will play euphonium and J plays cornet, the neighbors (Ks) are coming too and will play tpt and cowbell. Hehehe. H & L , the masterminds who actually have a cabin in LC (pop. 150), will play some sort of tuba thing (opheclide, serpent, something low and nasty!) and accordian. Our baby will throw candy and possibly some percussiony thing, we'll see. We all sit in back of a pickup and go about 4 blocks (the whole town) and then we go back since the parade is so short. It is super fun, and pretty much everyone in town is on a "float" or horse or something.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Things are Full... Monty that is

Full Monty is going well - at least it was before I left last Friday! Sub for two days, and we had Sunday off. It is a fun show, sort of R&B (according to my hubby) and I'm having a great time playing bari sax (in addition to tenor and oboe with occasional recorder moments).

Playing bells (!) in church Sunday, will also do some oboe stuff since I'll be there. Also volunteering to play EH (and oboe) on the Franck dm with the community college orchestra. Once Monty is over, I don't have any music scheduled for the summer til the end of July. Maybe something will come up.

Oboe still waiting for repair/overhaul - Carlos (the super oboe repair guy) is difficult to pin down! I was told to call back in July. *sigh* so I'm using the Laubin, which just doesn't feel right to me - glad I have it in reserve though!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The crash and burn

Ack! Yesterday was one of the most stressful oboe days I've had! Started with an early morning rehearsal for Full Monty (bari, tenor, oboe, recorders) - but not before I had to drop off my extremely reluctant son at soccer pictures (daddy would be coming for the game later). Happy times!

So I get to rehearsal -it was the sitzprobe (first time w/singers) and LOTS of sound issues - mics and monitors a big nightmare. And I even figured out how to get our lights on (my tiny victory). In all the mayhem, I was getting my big old saxes out, and I put my oboe on the stand...but then I watched it in SLLLLOOOOWWW MOOOOTIONNNNN drop to the ground. This was kinda shocking, cuz all around me people were so busy and life was going on as usual. The other wind player (M) was freaking out with me though, and I picked it up and it looked ok, and it still sealed, so I tried a note. OK!

Great, I thought. Then I tried another note. Nothin. The second key wasn't going down. Huh. Surely I could fix this, just seconds ago it was fine! But after some furious fiddling around I had to give up (I'm in a dark pit remember, and our rehearsal was starting right then. So I put the oboe away and tried to focus on the other stuff. Mostly I play bari in this musical, so there wasn't much to cover.

Since my repair guy doesn't work weekends I called my mentor oboe godling, and he left his son's soccer game (see how soccer has invaded my life?) to help me out. We messed around with the oboe for over an hour, tweeking springs and checking binding keys but finally figuring it must be a bumper pad that fell off. This is the tiniest piece of cork acting as a spacer. So we put a piece of cork in and it seemed ok. G had no contact cement but we had some at home so I left (gratefully!)

J glued the cork and I started adjusting, when another cork fell off! This is a sign, I thought - been meaning to send my oboe off for an overhaul with the fabulous Carlos for a while now. But of course I had the big Scherazade concert last night which I REALLY wanted to play on the Loree. I am fortunate to have another pro oboe (Laubin) but I hadn't been playing it and the keys are situated a bit differently and the pitch is different. So we glued the other cork on and I adjusted - and the Loree seemed ok. But I was bringing my Laubin just in case!

At the concert I warm up both horns, find the reed I like and so on. Everything seem ok - so I play Afternoon of a Faun on Loree. It is fine. We all have to move (which we HATE) for the Haydn Farewell, and since we leave the stage I will have to gracefully try to leave with both oboes and my swab (since I'm having major water in the keys on Mr. Loree). I consider switching to the Laubin just to let Mr Loree dry out a bit before Scheherazade, but I just swab a lot and keep playing.

The Haydn is a huge hit with the audience and we are at intermission. We all go back out and resituate (my third seat of the evening!). We start and in the first solo (of many many) the second key is wonking out again. I decide I must switch right then so I can be ready for the big solo in mvt 2. This is ok, but then my reed up and DIES right then, so I have to hope something in the box works without really trying it (although I had played them at home earlier). Very stressful. Reed a bit stiffer but sounds nice, but my chops are so tired, probably from stress more than effort, although this is a BIG piece with endless playing.

Crazy day, but I don't think the audience had a clue (which is the point I guess). So glad I had the other instrument, there would have been nothing I could have done if I hadn't brought it. Also good experience to relate to those blowhards that don't want us woodwinds to have our "stuff" on stage, I had extra reeds and swabs and papers, without which people certainly would have noticed some wild oboes sounds!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day

Today is the first day in weeks that is has NOT (so far) snowed! Happy May Day!

Giggage has been good - the Beethoven trio concert was fun, and I think I played the EH part well. I thought it was going to be after an intermission though, but the "intermission" was a sermon (this concert was at a church)! So instead of getting a few moments to honk on the EH I started cold (as did the 2nd oboe), we didn't even tune (1st oboist said no). Huh. Ah well, the delights of live performance.

Fiddler was fun - such a great show. This was a HS production and the kids really did a great job. Orchestra has started rehearsals for our season finale - Scherezade is just as scary as expected! But it is coming together and I'm sure it will be great in 2 weeks. The Afternoon of a Faun (NOT Fawn as listed on our stupid website) which I thought would be a breeze is actually really hard to put together - all that rubato I guess. DD is conducting in big beats instead of subdividing and I think that really threw the flutes off, but they were getting it by the end. I am concerned that we may never practice the Haydn farewell symphony - it is straightforward but I'd like to play though it!

Yesterday the ww quartet (our hornist is on leave til summer) played for the symphony wine club tasting - at a really lovely venue called the white house. Hope we get to play there again sometime. We were mainly background music, but it was very nice and I think we played well. Our flutist forgot her stand - she had her music on a chair which was less than optimal, then I offered to share stands - not ideal since we had lots of music and some complicated page turns. We had asked all the symphony volunteers if they had stands in their cars or were close enough to get one from home. The venue owner had a podium but it was too flat and too high (funny how specialized music stands are!). The flute player was making do but you could tell she was frustrated - when 2 minutes before we were to start my husband swoops in with a music stand he had rented from the tiny music store down the street! It had never occured to us to check, I thought he was quite brilliant to just go off by himself and even ask to rent such a thing! Saved the day.

So this week we start rehearsals for Full Monty - I'm playing bari sax (main) tenor, subbing oboe for flute, and alto recorder. Thanks to Grama Ruth for giving me that particular beast years ago, I've never used it til now! I'm interested in how the bari stuff goes - this part is written for a low A bari, and of course my old bari only goes to Bb. I found this great plumbing fixture (at Lowes!) that fits right in the bell to drop my Bb's to As, which means I can't play Bb's then, but we'll see if it works. I've had two offers from people with low A baris if I want to use them, but I'd like to use my own if possible.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

wind player woes

After the dearth of musical activity, I will be playing a ton later this month. First the Beethoven Trio and a couple other things on a recital - I had forgotten the Beethoven just goes on and on! Fiddler at DDs school, always fun but that means every night for a week - euphonium for Easter brass (hilarious), and WW4 for wine tasting - all new music since our hornist is unavailable.

And our season finale (Scherazade, Afternoon of a faun, and Haydn Farwell) starts in the midst of all this. Lots of endurance issues. For me anyway! Compounded by the NEXT show I'm doing (may-june) which is mostly tenor/bari sax. Bari just takes soooo much wind! I am just trying to practice long tones (not very long on that beast), but the proximity of the gig is making me nervous.

With all that coming up I almost forgot I'm playing (oboe) for masterclass tomorrow! Ack! I think I'll play some slow bits from AOAF and Scherazade, love all that really low stuff (not).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Still sick

Well, this is really dragging on! I have been sick pretty much all of February, blech. Tonight we had a player's committee meeting to pick the rep for next year. I thought it went pretty well, and I'm so excited that my big pick (Beet 3) looks like a go for October. Trying to raise attendance is a really big issue right now, and the conductor keeps saying we need to program pieces people will know...

I'm just hoping we get to do a few real classical works a year, it is hard to justify since apparently the audience we attract only likes movie music, jazz and broadway. That isn't totally true, but it does seem like that is what people want. I have no problem ADDING a concert of broadway stuff, but I don't want to change one of our already sparse concerts to a pops format. Oh well, I guess that's why I'm on the committee!

First rehearsal for the young artists concert (all concertos) Thursday, we missed last week due to snow! Concert next week - holy cow.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Well, I wasn't sure if I should post this on the music blog or the "life" blog, since mostly I am just feeling guilty about not practicing... but if you don't want to read about it feel free to skip this one!

Somehow a tiny tickle in my throat turned into the horrible death illness - fortunately I haven't had any required appearances this week. I did recorders before it really set in, I'm kind of excited to have them playing for St Paddy's Day next month! They are learning a jig (Scatter the Mud) and a lovely Irish tune - the Water is Wide. I may play the harp with them if they are able to play alone, and we might even bring in my friend who is another parent to play his uillean pipes - we'll see. Maybe we'd do that for the end of the year. Next week is vacation for them anyway, so I don't want to pile it on too high.

And during that vacation we're going to Disneyland!! J and I have both been but it's been more than 20 years for both of us - so much of the park is new or redone. My good friend works there and is giving us advice and a lovely discount! D is kind of horrified and won't tell people where we are going, he just says "southern california". He did perk up when I said we would also go to the beach and maybe Seaworld or the aquarium. What a dorky little dude. I'm betting I will have a changed attitude to post about next time.

And when we get back the symphony starts rehearsals for the young artist concert (my favorite!). I'm kind of excited, but because I have been soooo sick I am also dreading it. There are a couple oboe solos but I've played it all but the Neilson clarinet conceerto before - not even sure that has oboe. I really don't want to bring the oboe on the trip, although maybe I'll take the camping oboe - J would love that.

The other interesting news on that front is that I've been asked to join the symphony board. And I agreed. Could be a big mistake! I have complained about them for years, so I suppose it will be good to put my money where my mouth is...I do have a lot of ideas, but no experience on boards. Fortunately I KNOW people who have been on boards to give me advice, and maybe I can actually do some good.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Last night was our symphony fund raiser the Bl@ck and Wh!te Ball. Fun fun fun. I got tix for several friends, and we filled a table (8). I think everyone had a good time...lots of people were up dancing the whole night and apparently the food was good. This is our first time in a new (less expensive) venue - in some ways I think it was a much better place.

Only big crisis was the flute player got there and realized her music was missing! Actually she just missed the sound check, so she didn't get her horn out ahead, and this was when we were tuning. Eek! So she thought it might be in the car so off she goes. DD didn't even notice, I guess cuz we were off to the left instead of front and center. First chart was Blue Danube, which is fine til the very end where there is a flute solo. I figured she'd be back way before that. But I guess she didn't want to walk in front of the stage so I was "playin some stuff" that vaguely resembled the flute solo. DD definately noticed the empty chair then!

I guess the music was in the OTHER car - she had switched with her hubby. Oops! So he was coming with the music (fortunately from not too far away, many of us live an hour from the gig). But til he got there she read off my music, and she did an amazing job remembering flutey stuff. Her lovely guy showed up after about 1/2 way through the first set. That was just crazy.

My honey saved his dessert for me, lovely!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's a new year

Ahhhh, a lovely break after the pre-Christmas insanity. But now things are starting to pick up in the music world, I have been teaching recorder and going to band (where I play clarinet badly), but have yet to actually practice anything. Bad bad bad! The orchestra does have a benefit next week so I have to get it together at least somewhat before Thursday. It will be all dance music, lots of poppy stuff, but still I would like to sound good!

We did host two young artists who competed to play with our orchestra in March. One (a cellist) actually won the college strings division! The other was a pianist, she got honorable mention in her catagory. There were both originally from Taiwan, which D was totally interested in (partly to tell *them* all the stuff HE knows about Taiwan); and J had been to Taiwan for work 20+ years ago, probably before they were born! Still they were both lovely people and it was fun to get to know them a bit. My little piano has never had such a workout!

I was also a judge for the competition (the HS division - neither of my home stays were in this division). It is fun to hear everyone but stressful to have to judge. We get so many AMAZING competitors from all over the country...and it is very hard to compare Paganini Vln concerto with Greig Piano concerto, or Mozart oboe concerto! The high school division is just everyone together, all vying for one spot. Crazy. But it is always a great concert - 6 winners each playing one mvt (the singers sometimes do two pieces since their stuff is usually short). Looking forward to that, especially since they opted to not use winds on the January concert to save money. I think it was a good call, but disappointing.