Monday, September 8, 2008

Summertime, and the livin' is easy.

Until yesterday I'd only lost one plaque in the, oh, seven years I've been making reeds, and I only lost that plaque after I bought an extra one, just to be safe. So I've never really worried about having an extra plaque, despite the fact that most people seem to keep several on hand and lose them frequently. Well, yesterday I lost my second one, and no backup. Luckily I was able to borrow one for a few days from another oboist while the new 3 I've ordered come in the mail.

I tried out both of the gougers in the reed room- unfortunately neither is well labeled and so I can't tell you what kinds they are- and they're really lovely. Unlike the gouger at my old school, both have handles, making the gouging process a lot easier on your thumb as well as your wrist, shoulder, etc. And while so far I've only made reeds with cane from one of the gougers, I must say that that gouger works very well with my shaper and my oboe. The next batch of reeds is going to be from that same machine, but I'll try the other one soon and see how it goes. Then when I've actually met some of the other oboists here, I'll be able to say what the makes of the two gougers are.

I'm actually having reed luck so nice that it's making me nervous. This is good for my practicing now, and I just hope that it continues to be good when I have my all important audition-for-everything.

I've finally listened to recordings of all of my audition excerpts, something I know I should have done much earlier. I'm very glad I did, because I had the tempo for mvt 3 of Mahler Symphony 1 completely wrong. I also was pretty far off with the Strauss Concerto, but there was at least a reason behind that. My freshman year for my spring jury I played the first movement of the Strauss. I was nowhere near good enough to play it, but for some reason I was working on it at the time, and so it was my jury piece. I played it pretty slowly, in part because of my teacher's personal aesthetic but mostly because I had to in order to get the right calm and pastoral sort of sound. Anyways, that was the way I learned the piece, and I haven't played it again since then. I'm glad that I listened to a couple clips of it though, because now I have the fingers to play it at the proper speed...and it's much easier on your lungs that way! I'm pretty happy with the way my preparations are going, and what with having to play from mvt 2 of Saint-Saens Organ Symphony, my double-tonguing is progressing nicely.

When I'm not practicing I've been...well, a lot of my time has been spent watching House, listening to the score of Jesus Christ Superstar, doing nothing much on the internet, and, this past weekend, going to the Ohio Renaissance Festival. But my other time has been spent reading Burkholder, Grout, and Palisca's A History of Western Music in order to pass my history diagnostics. It's a very dull book directed at freshmen music majors, but it is at least helping me remember all of the little bits of music history that I haven't had for three years. Plus, I have learned at least one interesting piece of information. It seems that in 17th c Spanish lyric theater most parts were played by women. So while, as in most opera of the time, both leading roles were generally soprano parts, rather than being played by a woman and a castrato, in Spain and Spanish territories both were played by women.

Also, for those who don't know Mahler's 1st Symphony, a recording of the third movement can be found here. It's absolutely gorgeous.

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