Saturday, March 29, 2008

Artless and gay in the major, pathetic and sad in the minor.

The above is Rimsky-Korsakov's description of the oboe in Principles of Orchestration...not nearly so verbose as Berlioz, and much more ambiguous. (Found here, which, though in awkward and unprofessional looking format, has the whole text of the book.)

I've heard back now from all of the grad schools I applied to. I was rejected from Mannes, which I was expecting, and waitlisted at Cincinnati, which was both a pleasant shock and a disappointment. I sent an email to the oboe teacher at CCM asking a few questions along the lines of "how many people would have to choose not to attend before I would get to go?", though I haven't heard back yet; the deadline for acceptance at CCM is April 15, and (as far as I can tell- I've sent an email, also as yet unanswered, asking) the deadline for GMU is after. Unless, then, I hear back differently from GMU, I can conveniently wait and see if I get in to CCM, which, though not exactly likely, wouldn't require a miracle either.

I've had several people suggest that I could take a year off and re-audition, and I'm also thinking about taking a year off and applying to music history programs, or going for performance and possibly transferring. If I got in to CCM off of the waitlist, I would definitely go, but I'm less sure about GMU.
The teacher at GMU is one of my role models, and one of the people I respect most, but I am well on the way to having my own strong opinions by now and the combination of her very strong will and the fact that I've only had a few scattered lessons with her since high school makes me unsure if I could stand up for myself to her. With my teacher now, for example, I've gotten to the point where I am able to argue my interpretations, and I think that I would be able to do so with a new teacher, but habit is hard to break. For example, I'm not sure that, if I went to GMU, I would be able to bring myself to transfer either to another oboe program or to a music history program.

I've been thinking about music history for a while now, and more seriously since I've had so much fun writing my recital program notes and since the experience of auditioning. I love the oboe, I love playing it and playing in orchestras, and certainly playing Berlioz right now (and getting the EH solo) is not helping to dissuade me, but I really got burnt out over audition stress and preparation, and that isn't promising for trying to make that my career. At the same time, I come back to the fact that I just can't seem to let it go. I'm afraid that if I went after music history, I would have a hard time being successful because I would still be spending all of my time practicing instead of researching. What I really want to do is both. I want to get a masters in performance, and then get a masters in music history. But, people don't really do that. Well, I have to make a decision eventually, but not today.

Speaking of Berlioz, we've had our second Berlioz rehearsal, and it was still wonderful; the brass had a sectional before the rehearsal, and we did movements 4 and 5. The mad grinning of nearly everybody in the orchestra (including my teacher) continues, and I personally am just about in heaven. A tip for the trilling part in the fifth mvt: one person plays only the trills, and one person plays straight eighths. According to my teacher, this is what the Chicago Symphony does, and it's really a brilliant cheat. Much easier and much cleaner to the ear, with no important difference in volume.

And speaking of disagreeing with your teacher, I've continued to have rehearsals of the Bax Quintet with my strings, and my teacher has been helping us. Which I really appreciate, don't get me wrong. However, my teacher and I have very different opinions of what the right tempos for the Bax are, and this leads to slightly awkward rehearsals in which we butt heads while the string players sit there noncommittally. I tend to like things fairly slow (read: Romantic and overwraught), while my teacher wants everything to go faster. Granted, faster tempos make the piece much easier to get through, but at the expense of sounding wrong (to me, and sometimes to him as well). We've ended up compromising a bit, but more on my side. After all, it is my recital. And I think the string players are slightly more on my side, though possibly only because we've been rehearsing things at my tempos for quite a while now.

A question about EH reeds. I don't make EH reeds, and I have always ordered them from Stuart Dunkel and been pleased with the quality. Lately, though, I've found that I just cannot get a decent dynamic range out of them, which is problematic since I'm playing a very dramatic (operatic) EH piece on my recital. Since learning to make EH reeds in the next three weeks is not a feasible option, does anyone have a suggestion of where to order good EH reeds?


C.J. said...

Besides the obvious (ahem!), Mr. Weber makes very good English Horn reeds. Also, it's never too early to just start ordering the materials and fiddle around with it yourself. That's basically how everyone begins.

racheloboes said...


I looked on your website, and it said nothing about English horn reeds! Do you sell them?

Jill Cathey said...

I would definately give Cooper (or Mr Weber) a try, but why not order a few tubes and some cane? I have always found EH reeds (like the EH!) much easier than oboe reeds.

Also, I know several people who have double masters degrees (and oboe/history would be a good one). You don't have to decide right now. Good luck!

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