Friday, July 30, 2010

Art Festivals and Lack of Fundage

Last night our Little Symphony had a financial board meeting, and they invited orchestra members to attend, I guess to get more fundraising ideas. It was so depressing! Everyone seems to be trying so hard, but we have a huge deficit in this years budget Every time someone raises funds, another grant falls through or donor opts out. We now have NO major donors. They are talking about cancelling at least one concert just so we can function - and we only have a total of 5 concerts. *sigh*

I have volunteered to increase our presence on the internet - not that I have much of a clue but I can get us on the free local calendars and Cr@iglist events. Any other ideas out there? After playing with the Middle of Nowhere Symphony - where they have a HUGE (comparitively) budget I'm just depressed. We live in the same size towns, but the arts don't seem to be very supported here. Maybe I'm just not asking the right people.

Which MAY be the case, because this weekend is a big art fest in Little Town, and it is a big deal. The orchestra has a presence - the quartet and ww quintet will play (we're doing the Poulenc Sextet - so cool! and these fun Hallam pieces) The board members will pass out season brochures and I guess have a ticket buying table. Don't know how worthwhile that will end up being, but you have to try!

Friday, July 23, 2010

More Fireworks

Tonight we start rehearsals for the Royal Fireworks Band - concert Sunday. It's pretty old hat by now - we do Handel's Fireworks music of course, and every year there are a couple new arrangments, but most of us have done it many times and it is a great way to get in shape over a few days! Lucky for me I had the Helena gig last week, so lots of rehearsals for that (and much more exposed stuff). The RFB is fun since we are just members of the section - like violins. There is NO COMPARISON to playing principal oboe, having all those others to count on is a huge advantage. Of course, then you don't get those Diva Moments where everyone listens to YOU, and I must admit those are kinda nice.

So anyway, I'm thinking of sending the Loree off for an overhaul - the Laubin is in such good shape now it shouldn't be a problem. I've been playing it all summer. Everyone here says to send it to Carlos Coelho at - any opinions?

Hoping my old EH is sold - I haven't heard but tonight (at rehearsal) the buyer's teacher will be there. I think for the money it is a screamin deal.

Planning to carpool with the Mysterious G - hopefully in the snazzy convertable! He is growing most of his cane in his backyard now, and I really like the reeds he's making. It really is every bit as good as the super spendy stuff from France. I have some cane growing at my house, but our rocky "soil" is not ideal. Just kinda fun to have cane, maybe someday I'll end up with some that I can use!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I'm practicing like mad these days, and to quell my nerves about playing prinicpal for a group I've never heard before I took a lesson with the mysterious G (reed making demigod). Feeling much better about things in general (although this is a very nerve-wracking thing), MG said to watch out that my vibrato is too much in places.


For years I have struggled to have any tiny wiggle, my long-ago undergrad years peppered with jury sheets complimenting my tone or rhythm but "needs more vibrato".

I did all those undignified huffing exercises, where you slowly try to build up those diaphram muscles. I studiously avoided the evil throat or lip vibrato that is only fit for instruments like the saxophone. I tried making wavy lines over the long notes to remind me to kick in the "wobbles". Nothing worked for me - all the other oboe players were doing it, but I just didn't really hear it.

Then my 2nd year of grad school (!) I started singing in the (very good) school choir. I took some vocal lessons (what the heck, they were free with my TA-ship) and discovered that vibrato is actually a NATURAL occurance.


Totally against everything I had been working so hard on for years, and these crazy singer-people were saying, don't do that! Apparently if you use good air and keep your body relaxed the sound kind of "spins". You actually have to freeze muscles to NOT have vibrato - which can be damaging to the voice over time (many rock type singers strain their voices singing super loud straight tones all the time).

My vibrato is sort of a weird combination of diaphram throat and even maybe lip vibrato, it just sort of comes out and I don't think about it at all. Except sometimes on big long notes in a cheesy solo I punch it up a bit, maybe a bit Kenny G (OMG say it isn't so!) So thanks for the heads up MG, I'll keep a lid on in the symphony - even if we're playing schmoltz.

One more thing - I totally use vibrato on the clarinet. I know some people say that is a big no-no, but I think it sounds good in moderation - NOT all the time. And I've had compliments on my sound from actual clarinet players, so there. Always seemed very unfair to me, that oboe players were beleaguered by not only the horrible reed problems (sorry clarinet players, you have NO room to talk) but also the vibrato issues that were a completely non-issue for my clarinet collegues. So unfair.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

summer gigs and stuff

So long since my last post - seems kinda silly to post when I'm just doing the same thing! But Annie is finally over and it was mostly fun - the pit was great (IMHO). I was worried that I wouldn't have anything to do after the show, but I was asked to sub for a chamber group while the usual oboe player recovers from heart surgery (she's doing great). They rehearse once a week and the most interesting piece to me is the Bloch 4 settings for Chamber orchestra, really fun and not too challenging but not boring. I've never heard it before, and it has been fun to play with some new people in town.

Then I got a call from the HSO, a group about 5 hours away. They need a principle oboe for their Fireworks concert, an outdoor "Spanish Nights" theme. We will do lots of Carmen excertps, Espana, Bolero and Caprricio Espanol. I'm kind of nervous since I won't be able to go to any rehearsals until the Thursday before Sat concert, but I've played most of this stuff and there seem to be excellent rehearsal notes. Seems that many people are imported to play, so I won't be the only one.

Then our local Fireworks Concert is the next week, which is the oboe (and bassoon) extravaganza - 20 (or more) oboes, 4 EH, 16 bassoons, 8 horns, 8 picc tpts and percussion. This is the instrumentation of Handel's Fireworks Music (the real version!) and we've done it every year for 31 years - really fun to see all my oboe playing friends every year. Besides the Fireworks Music, we play arrangements of various pieces. It's a free concert, and of course the highlight is the coordinated fireworks during the Handel. We play on this floating stage on the river, and the audience is all over the lawn of the big park on the bank. Fun.

After a family vacation, the little orchestra is doing a pops concert, labor day and then season opener (Mahler 1!). I haven't been playing the clarinet since Annie, but I'd like to keep those doubles going - and the jazz band is patiently waiting for me to come back with my tenor sax on Tuesdays...What happened to slow boring summers?