Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone to whom it applies had a lovely and not-too-stressful holiday! (And to everyone else, I hope you had a lovely and not-too-stressful couple of days.)

I don't suppose anyone comes to the blog not knowing any thing about the oboe and these crazy reeds we have to deal with, but I thought that this was the best and easiest to follow description I've seen of what making a reed is like.


The Poulenc opera (Les Mamelles de Tiresias) went off very well. I was a little nervous going into the performances, because we did not have very many rehearsals for the orchestra, and we didn't even have a real hell week (just normal orchestra rehearsals). However, our conductor was really fantastic, really impressive considering he's a grad student rather than a professor, and we pulled it together well in the end. I was really pleased with how it all went. Though to be fair, the vast majority of credit goes to the singers. The opera and musical theater programs are the best we have here, and I'm consistently blown away by how talented our singers are.

I absolutely love playing in opera pits, and this show was short and sweet, surreal and comical but with really great music, a few nice small oboe solos, and the staging and costumes were fantastic. Very French Cabaret, in fact. It was done with the orchestra onstage and with minimal staging for the singers, and the costumes were all berets and scarves and stripes and tulle, with everyone (both male and female) wearing heavy eyeliner and red lips. The orchestra was promised berets, but sadly the budget didn't allow for it. I hope that there's some way for me to get an audio or video recording of the show. I'd love to see it.

I also had an orchestra concert - my schedule was pretty hectic for a while, as I was in effect playing in two rotations while doing the opera- which went pretty well. We did Sibelius 2, which I unfortunately did not get to play in, and Bartok's Two Pictures, for which I played English horn. I always love playing English horn, but that piece really has a beautiful part. There's a duet in the second movement for EH/clarinet which is low and hollow and so very eerily icy. You can listen to both movements here: one, two.

So now I'm done for the quarter, except for the family holiday concerts. I really don't mind playing those, though I think I'm the only person in the whole school. :-)


In lessons I've mostly been working on Ferlings. I thought that after doing the Gillet etudes for the past two years that Ferling would be much easier. And, to be honest, the slow ones are pretty easy for me. I'm glad, because this means that I can really concentrate on being expressive in them, and I'm pretty happy with how I've been doing. But the fast ones are hard! I've actually been having quite a bit of trouble with some of them (for instance, #12), though of course some of them fall much more easily (for instance, #10). Still, I'm glad that I've decided to systematically go through the whole thing. It's far too easy to decide, as I have in the past, to "just skip that one..."

I've also planned my second degree recital, which will be at the end of February. Well, mostly planned it. I'll do a Sonata in c minor by Johann Jacob Bach, the Kalliwoda Concertino, Daelli's Fantasia on Rigoletto, and Dring's Trio for oboe/bassoon/piano. There's a chance that I will play Lovreglio's Fantasia on Un ballo in maschera instead of the Daelli, which I heard a recording of and fell in love with, but I've discovered that it's actually a clarinet piece, so it will depend whether it's worth the trouble to transpose the whole piece or not. I also have fallen in love with Bissoli's Sonata in g minor, another baroque piece, but it's rather long, and I think the Bach is a better fit for my recital in terms of how much music I have and the endurance needed. Bissoli was an oboist, though, so the piece falls very well, and it's really gorgeous.

I wish that I could link to recordings of these pieces, but they're all pretty scarce. None have a decent recording on youtube, and I can't even find a recording of the Bissoli on Amazon. Perhaps some day I will put up some clips for you to hear.

I've been listening to a lot of opera music lately, mostly Baroque opera, and it's really inspired me musically in terms of my oboe playing. Particularly as I'm working on both Baroque and opera music right now. I wrote a paper on trouser roles (women playing men in opera), which led me to youtube, and, well, I sort of got stuck. Of course there are a ton of fantastic singers out there, but I thought I'd share some of my favorite discoveries. I was really (pleasantly) surprised at how well acted a lot of operas are now, and the musicality of all of these singers is just impeccable. I'm particularly impressed by Ernman, Mijanovic, and Galou. I listen and just think, "That is what I want to be able to evoke with my oboe. What must I do to get that depth of emotion and ease of expression?" It's really frustrating to me at times, but it's really inspiring me to push myself to get the results I want rather than only the results I think I can get.


But rather than me going on and on (which, believe me, I have been to anyone who will listen), I'll just post some links to youtube.

Natalie Dessay, "Air des clochettes," Lakme (Delibes).
Joyce DiDonato, "Crude furie degli orridi abissi", Serse (Handel).
Frederica Von Stade, Moon Song from Rusalka, Dvorak
La mort d'Ophélie (Berlioz), Anne Sofie von Otter
Bach, Erbarme dich, mein Gott (Matthäuspassion), Delphine Galou.
Vivaldi, "Svena, uccidi, abbatti, atterra" from Bajazet, Marijana Mijanovic
Handel, "Ah ! Stigie larve" from Orlando, Marijana Mijanovic (There are several more clips of this opera on youtube, and they're all amazing.)
Handel, "Come Nube" from Agrippina, Malena Ernman
Strauss, "Chacun a son gout" from Die Fledermaus, Malena Ernman


In other music news, I have submitted my first PhD application, and will soon submit several more! Now for the waiting...and quickly deciding if I want to apply to more places- it's a tough market out there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The longer I go without posting...

...the longer I think it will take me to catch up here, and thus the longer I put it off. Many apologies, my quarter this fall has been truly crazy, and will most likely continue to be.

I'm in orchestra, of course, and also playing in an opera (technically the opera is from another rotation, but that orchestra has so many concerts this term that they ran out of oboists!), plus I'm playing both the Poulenc trio and sextet for someone's recital. Oh, yes, the opera is also Poulenc (Les Mamelles de Tiresias)- luckily he's one of my favorite composers! I really do love playing operas, and I can't wait until next week when we begin to rehearse with singers.

In my free time I've been doing things like playing in all-day conducting workshops, and filling out applications for musicology PhD programs. For the workshop, I had to learn Daphnis and Chloe on English horn, and the principal oboe part to Bizet's Symphony in C. Luckily I'd learned parts of both before, but I had to relearn the third movement of Bizet with B naturals instead of B flats, which was pretty hard! Muscle memory is a chore to unlearn.


Oboe-wise, the quarter has been going really well. I bought a new knife and a sharpening stick about a month ago, and they have completely revolutionized the way I make reeds. I've always been fairly happy with my rather idiosyncratic reed-making style, but I had no idea that a large part of my style was drawn from limitations imposed by my truly awful knife. I have so much more control now, and I find that I'm actually able to make reeds similar to my teacher's. The amount of precision and definition that I can get from my knife is shocking to me. I'm still working on changing my style, and getting used to having a knife that's actually sharp the way that it should be, but I'm really excited about the progress I'm making. (My teacher told me the other day, "You sound like a grown-up now!" which was pretty fabulous to hear.)

I bought both from Roger Miller, his sharpening steel and own brand knife, which looks very strange, with a very tall blade, but is actually very easy to sharpen and not too hard, though fairly different, to scrape with.

My teacher heard me play both Poulenc chamber pieces this week, and was very happy with how I sounded, which is really gratifying to hear. I do feel in general that I'm a better player this year. Some of this, of course, is run of the mill improvement- theoretically each year you should be a better player than the last- and my summer at EMF helped too. However, as I mentioned, I'm applying to musicology programs for next year, and I feel that that has also been beneficial for my playing. I feel like a weight has been lifted from me. Last year I was so very stressed, as I was trying plan a career in performance, and although applying to another round of grad school is stressful in its own way, I feel that the lifting of the "oboe performance" weight has opened me up to enjoying the oboe more and thus playing better. I feel more like I did in undergrad, when more of my energy was put towards musicality and playing the oboe rather than stressing about my career options.

Obviously I am still invested in the degree I'm currently seeking, and I under no circumstances mean to give up the oboe. But I feel this path is better for my continued mental health. :-)

Speaking of this degree, I'm trying to plan my repertoire for my second recital, which will be in February. I will hopefully be playing either the Poulenc trio or another oboe/bassoon/piano trio (perhaps the Dring?), but I'm having a lot of trouble coming up with the rest of my program. I'm looking for melodramatic, dark pieces. and also contemplating playing a Pasculli. We shall see.


Obviously a lot has gone on that I have not mentioned in this post, like my fall audition for orchestra rotations and the first orchestra concert of the year, for which I played principal on Bolero and Berlioz's Overture to Benvenuto Cellini, but this is at least some of what I've been up to lately.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

At first, the time between the end of EMF and the start of school seemed endless; a month and a half of boredom and inevitably bad practice habits. A month and a half later, with school beginning in a week and auditions in only 3 days, I almost wish I had more time.

The EMF ended as powerfully as it began, though the program for the last week left a little to be desired. But then, I had my big moments in the first half of camp, and the student soloists were truly amazing. I'm so incredibly glad that I had a chance to attend EMF, and I only wish I could go back next year. The conductors I worked under were inspired and inspiring, and I met a lot of fantastic students. I'm sure some of us will run into each other eventually, and I'll be glad when we do!


The auditions at the beginning of the year here determine our rotation: who we will play with all year, and in which order we'll go through the ensembles. And it's also technically a board (also known as a jury). On the one hand, you really get to know the people you're playing with, and all of the wind sections rotate together. On the other hand, you unfortunately only get to play with 1/3 of the wind players. I'm not sure which rotation I hope to get into this year, because while all three are more or less equal, one rotation gets to play in the pit of both operas. However, that rotation also would screw up the schedule I've planned for the quarter. But we shall see.

We have a LOT of audition music. 10 pages, to be precise, with music from Brahms 1, Bizet's Symphony in C, Mendelssohn 4, Debussy's Afternoon of the Faun and Fetes, Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe, Sibelius 2, and Shostakovich 1. French Impressionism is...shall we say, very challenging. In undergrad we played one of the Daphnis and Chloe suites, and I believe it's still the hardest piece I have ever played in orchestra. At some point we'll be told which excerpts will be the ones actually used in the audition, but that point may be Saturday afternoon. Hopefully it'll be sooner. I'm obviously preparing all of them, but it would be nice to have a day to narrow it down.

Hopefully I'll also have some reeds for the audition. My cane lately has been exceedingly mushy, and I'm getting frustrated. I had such good luck for most of EMF, and I was really enjoying feeling comfortable and self-sufficient in terms of reeds. I'm nearly always completely self-sufficient, if only because I'm very used to my very idiosyncratic reeds, but at EMF I didn't do any work on reeds with my teachers until the last week, and I was really happy with my results the whole time. The climate, of course, was a big help- my reeds aren't quite as fond of Cincinnati. But I was similarly sufficient for much of last year at school, and I'll get there again eventually.


I also have...well, not big news, but news that could some day become big news. I'm applying to PhD programs in music history for next year, with the intent of studying 19th or 20th century opera of some sort. I've done a lot of thinking about this over the past year, and it's something I really want to do. I know by now that I'm not good enough to make it as a professional oboist. If I had a different temperament, and could make myself practice 6 hours a day every day, I think I have the raw ability. But that's not me, and it would make me miserable. I don't intend to ever give up playing the oboe, and I hope that I will be able to take lessons and play lots of gigs in the future, but I'm much happier when my stress level is a little bit lower. (And frankly it's easier to be a musicologist who plays the oboe than an oboist who writes articles on the side.) Besides, my classes here have really brought to my attention the difference a really good professor can make on your learning experience. I want to be one of those professors who help their students enjoy and be inspired by the material they teach.

So I've written another personal statement, and I'm figuring out what research papers I'll submit and bracing myself for another round of grad school applications. I'm taking Research and Writing this quarter, a required class for my Masters degree, and I'm planning to write a paper on the narratives created in Pasculli's opera fantasias. There's basically no existing scholarship on the subject, and I'm pretty excited. (I do look forward to the fact that come December the hard part will be over, not just beginning. Thank goodness for no auditions.)


I wanted to make a note of something. At EMF, one or some of the teachers found my blog, and asked my teacher to Speak To Me about it. I don't know who found it, or if they had any specific objections to it. My teacher was certainly nice about the whole thing, and said that she didn't want me to someday lose a job over something I'd written here, but I got quite a lecture and the intention seemed to me to be to convince me to stop blogging. It really freaked me out at the time, because I try very hard to be polite and professional on this blog, but I was caught too off guard to ask if there was anything specific on here that they objected to. I thought about the matter, and I'm definitely not going to stop blogging because of it or delete things that I've written in the past. While I do want to be professional here, and I am careful about what I write and try not to badmouth anyone, the intent of my blog is to give people an idea of the reality of being a musician and an oboist. Specifically, my reality and my experiences. I name names on purpose, I write about specifics on purpose, I hope that this blog comes up when people google pieces I've written about, or teachers I've studied with. I know that people can have very different experiences in similar situations, and I just want to provide yet another perspective. I'm not famous, and I'm not the best oboe player you'll meet, but I love what I do, I involve myself in it fully, and I have opinions that I want to share. I want to be informative. I'm not going to write horrible things about people or groups or what have you, but I'm also not going to never give specifics. I want people to have specifics.

That said, if I ever link to you or mention your name on here and you wish me to remove it, please contact me and I will do so immediately.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Up is up and down is down" - Caldwell

My least favorite place to get water? Probably the G key (or the A key, if you name that way). The one that allows you to play a tuning A for the orchestra. In rehearsal the other day, I went to tune, and instead played "ffffgurglethp AAAA gurglesdffffffff AA ffthss". I actually had to have the second oboe tune for me.


The Shostakovich 5 concert, was pretty amazing. There was a full, enthusiastic house (so much stomping on stage, and shouting in the audience), and we played really well. We did have some tuning issues, but the performance turned out to be so emotional and forceful and musical that it hardly mattered. I was really happy with my performance. I hadn't played badly in rehearsals, but I'd never really been happy with my solos. I had a hard time getting the glassy, smooth sound needed for the first and third movements, as well as finding the proper depth of emotion. At the concert, though, I absolutely could not have played them better. I was really satisfied with my performance, and I got reassuring feedback from my teachers and fellow orchestra people. It's certainly among the best concerts I've had, or maybe even the best performance; it's rare that everything goes the way you want it to. I had one person tell me that my solo in the fhird movement made her tear up, which is an incredible compliment, and very unexpected.
(The oboe does not fare well in Shosty 5: after getting "punched in the face" in the second movement, in the third movement I was to play as if I'd been stranded in Siberia and was contemplating committing suicide before I froze to death. I spent all afternoon trying to figure out how to play the solo so it sounded like I wanted to die. But it seemed to work.) It's amazing how powerful music can be.

Last week I played second in a Mozart double piano concerto and in Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances. And let me tell you, I got some payback for being so pleased with myself about Shostakovich. The Rachmaninoff is probably the hardest piece I've played in orchestra, aside from Daphnis et Chloe. I spent most of my practice time last week making pained and frustrating noises. That said, I loved the piece, particularly the second movement, which is a Tim Burton-esque waltz. The Mozart was obviously much simpler, but we had a lot of tuning troubles which only ended up half resolved. Or, rather, they were resolved until my reed cracked on stage immediately before the concert and I got water in all my keys. I feel that the Rachmaninoff was a poor choice for this situation, but while the concert was certainly not the best we've played, it was still fairly hypnotizing. I only wish we'd done the piece justice.


Mr. Ellis left camp early to perform in the Mostly Mozart festival, so Katie Young is replacing him these last two weeks. I had a funny moment in last week's lesson where she complimented my sound by telling me "you don't sound like you play a Howarth!" I was a bit non-plussed. I was hoping to work on reeds with her, but unfortunately didn't have a chance. I enjoyed my lessons with her; she was very nitpicky, but in a nice way. She was complimentary of my tone, but told me to work on being more expressive, particularly in Bach. I have a problem finding the middle ground in Bach. I tend to either switch off and play far too squarely and pedantically, or to go to an extreme. And while I'm perfectly comfortable with being dramatic in, for example, the unaccompanied Bach piece I played on my recital, I'm much less able to interpret cantatas correctly. I also discovered that my interpretation of one of the phrases in the Vaughan Williams concerto is something that only I do. I'm not sure how I feel about that.


I'm taking a class here called "The Business of Music," taught by Karen Birch Blundell, the EH faculty. The class is really fantastic. We've covered resumes and publicity materials, community outreach, freelancing, orchestral auditions, and keeping your orchestral job once you've won it. On one hand, I can practically hear people's bubbles bursting, but on the other hand, I find the number of jobs, the number of quality gigs, the fact that so many people are able to play music in a way that makes them happy all very reassuring.


Last night we had an oboe studio dinner, which was pretty awesome. So much insanity in so small a space. If you have never tried playing excerpts (for example, Haydn Variations, Concerto for Orchestra, Don Juan) on only your reed, you are missing out. Plus, Susan Eischeid, the 2nd oboe faculty, made us all personalized oboe reed cupcakes.


Lastly, if you have not listened to the Curtis commencement speech by Robert Levin, you should as soon as possible. "The real question is, “what do you have to say?” [...] Your job is to keep people up at night."

Friday, July 17, 2009

"Do not give my secrets away to conductors! ... [diabolical laughter]" -Tabuteau

Last week I played 3rd oboe/EH in the first movement of Mahler 2 (the other half of the concert was Beethoven 5, which I was a little sad to miss out on, though I have played it once before), again under Mr. Schwarz. I was really happy to play the EH again, and Mahler (unlike some composers such as, say, Dvorak) seems perfectly capable of writing a good doubling part. Although there is a lot of very rapid switching, I'd rather that than two measures of EH somewhere in the middle. And while it's nice to play with new people and under new conductors, it was nice to have two weeks in the same orchestra. I've gotten to really like Mr. Schwarz. He's picky without being mean, offers specific compliments and suggestions, and is a fabulous rehearser. We didn't ever run out of things to work on (certainly not in a week!), but I didn't ever feel like we'd run out of time either. He also seems to work very well with students; he managed to drop a lot of information, both about the pieces and about the workings of orchestras, into rehearsals.

Our concert went well, and I got some very nice compliments on my EH playing. I feel like I'm playing much better here than at school, on both oboe and EH, and my reeds are turning out surprisingly well also. (Knock on wood!) I don't know what, if anything, I'm doing differently, or even if the difference is only in my head. I think the change in location and humidity has given my reeds a boost, though. Regardless, I'm enjoying it. I love being able to play in orchestra every day; if I could do that forever, I would. I also like the fast turnaround of new music. I'm going to be very sad to leave and have a month and a half until my next orchestra rehearsal.

This week I'm in the other orchestra, working with Jose-Luis Novo. He's a very good conductor as well, and I must say a lot easier to follow, particularly immediately, than Mr. Schwarz is. I do feel like we're a little more rushed in trying to get everything done this week, but some of that is due to having a pops concert in the middle rather than to Mr. Novo's rehearsing skills. My favorite thing about working with him is that he's incredibly evocative, both in his analogies and in his conducting. He's very dramatic and emotional, and it works for him. The fantastic thing about orchestra this week is that we're playing Shostakovich 5, and I'm playing principal. The piece is gorgeous and sarcastic and so, so sad. Plus, it has some great solos, and is a lot of fun to play. I think my favorite movement is the second, a twisted Viennese waltz.

I will say that I have never played so many tuning As in my life. I give 5 every rehearsal (winds, brass, basses, low strings, violins), which I feel is a bit much...but I bow to the will of the conductor! We had an interesting discussion in masterclass one day about giving the A; Mr. Ellis feels that it's fine to have a little bit of vibrato in your A, as long as it is still clear and on pitch. I STRONGLY disagree. I find it incredibly distracting, and also much harder to tune to. I'm curious what other people's opinions are, though.


Last week in masterclass we did excerpts; we were given several to work on, and then each were assigned one to play in class. I ended up playing Tombeau (first mvt only), and it went better than I think I've EVER played it. I wasn't expecting to bomb it, but I was surprised by the fact that it went so well. I got all of the tonguing in, all the low notes spoke properly, and I even managed to add in some phrasing and musicality! It made up for the fact that in my lesson on Tuesday, Randall handed me the principal part on Shosty 5, after which I proceeded to become completely incompetent.

This week we had a brief history of the oboe and the Tabuteau lineage, and we got to try several shawms and similar instruments, including one with a quadruple reed. It was fascinating, and a lot of fun. We got very, very silly, though. :-) The most interesting part for me, though, was getting to try a French scrape reed. It was actually very easy to play nicely, much easier than the German reed I tried. That reed had a gorgeous crow, but I had a lot of trouble controlling it and having any sort of tone. On the French reed, though, I could get a sound very similar to my own using my normal embouchure.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"The [tuning] A should be the Voice Of God" : John Mack

We had our first concert of the festival on Friday, a joint concert between the two orchestras. (There are two student orchestras, and one faculty orchestra. We rotate between the two student orchestras, and fill in the faculty orchestra if necessary. The nice thing about this is that it means there's no "top" orchestra, and we get to play with more of the studio. Plus, it gives the teachers more power to assign us to specific pieces. Normally one orchestra plays on Thursday and one on Friday, but since this week was abbreviated, we shared.) This concert was Roman Carnival and Foote's Symphonic Prelude to Francesca Rimini by the ESO, and Copland's El Salon Mexico and Ginastera's Four Dances by the GSO.

As I mentioned, I played EH in the Berlioz. I felt really solid about my solo all week, a few cracks here and there, mostly on the first G, but my reeds were behaving and I tried to follow every nuance of Mr. Schwarz's interpretation. The rest of the piece I was a little shakier on; tonguing is not my strong point, and that piece is nearly made up of only tonguing. But I did my best. Plus, the orchestra was having a lot of trouble staying with Mr. Schwarz. I know that many of the winds were playing by ear to find the tempo and the beats, rather than going off of the baton. I watched really closely one rehearsal, trying to figure out why we were having such difficulty, and I have to say, I'm not sure. Taken out of context, Mr. Schwarz's beat pattern is clear and precise, and the problem is certainly not a lack of personal force. But for whatever the reason, every time the tempo picked up, we became uncertain and confused. This isn't to say that we were falling apart every rehearsal. We certainly weren't. But there was an uncomfortable undercurrent in every run-through.

The concert went well, though. We rushed a bit in places, and ended up rather dragging the slow section, something which may have been my fault, but we sounded flashy and brilliant and completely in style for Berlioz. All in all, a very good performance. I was pretty happy with my solo; I didn't crack the opening G, and the acoustics in the hall are brilliant, but I got a little cocky and cracked that first slur to the F#. Still, I think I sounded pretty nice, and had I not cracked that note, it would have been my best performance. I know that Mr. Schwarz was very happy with my playing in general, at least. (And I got some great applause, particularly from the orchestra, which really made me feel good about it. Of course I want the audience to like my playing, but getting recognition from my peers means so much.) I've gotten out of the habit of thinking of myself as a good EH player; there are so many people in my studio who are better than I am, or who I at least percieve as being much better, but I really enjoy playing EH, and I think that I'm playing it better here than I ever have.

Speaking of orchestra, I have never played somewhere where they were so considerate of our ears! Every wind player sitting on the stage left end of the row has a sound shield, as do the back row of violas, protecting us from the brass. He also had the brass move from two rows to one for rehearsals so that it wasn't as loud for them, and he told the percussion to move over so they weren't playing directly at the horns. I still wish our strings sat 1st/2nd/vla/cello, rather than 1st/cello/vla/2nd, but at least I won't go deaf! :-)



Each student here plays in a chamber group, and I'm doing the Neilsen quintet. I'm a little disappointed to be playing the Neilsen, because I played it in spring quarter with my quintet at school, but it is a great piece. The first rehearsal was a little bit awkward, since it was coached and we hadn't received the music beforehand. I think it would have been much more productive to either have time to look at the parts before having a rehearsal or to have a coach the second rather than first rehearsal. However, our second rehearsal was much improved, and my quintet is pretty great. The flutist in particular is a really good player and a fantastic rehearser and leader. This piece does make me miss my quintet, though! Two of them graduated and are moving away.

I got to have a short EH lesson with Karen Birch Blundell before the concert. She looked over my reeds and fixed one up a bit (though I didn't end up using that one for the concert).I played the solo for her also, and while she didn't really give me any musical/interpretive advice for the solo, that was all right. I wasn't really interpreting it myself anyways, just following the heck out of Schwarz. But she gave me a few tips for making notes speak more easily, and double checked my adjustment.
She suggested that we have an EH reed making lesson after the concert when it'll be okay if I completely screw up a reed. I'm looking forward to it, because my EH reed advice has pretty much been "It's easy! Go do it!", and her reeds are fantastic. Very unique also, with a very long tip, much longer than I've ever seen on an EH reed. I'm interested to try making one.

We have masterclass once a week also. We didn't play in class this week, but we've been given several excerpts to learn for next time. He's going to draw excerpts out of a hat and have us each play one. I found out also that Mr. Ellis has subbed a bunch in Wicked on Broadway, and that the Wicked book is oboe/EH/bass oboe. Now I really want to play that show! You know how much I love playing in pit orchestras. :-)

My work study here is ushering, which I actually enjoy. All of the patrons are so excited to see us, and it's of course nice to have such an enthusiastic audience. Plus, by ushering I automatically get to see any faculty performance for which I'm working. So far I've worked a piano concert and last night's faculty concert, and attended a chamber concert. I'm trying to go to as many as I can, though sometimes I just have to take a night off and make reeds.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hello from Eastern Music Festival

These last couple weeks have been filled with exams, and then a couple family emergencies, a lot of stress, and little oboe playing.

I have no such excuse for the last couple weeks of the quarter. Very shortly after my recital I had excerpt boards (Mozart concerto, Bach, Bartok, Beethoven, Brahms, Ravel, Rossini, Strauss, Tchaik), which we ran like a mock audition. Theoretically. In reality, they turned out to merely be blind boards, with no winner selected or anything like that. I do appreciate that they were done blind, though; I think that I got more blunt and thus more accurate comments than I would have otherwise. I also managed to get a (one-time) paid gig, playing at the high school for the arts downtown. Fun to play, and a good place to get my name out.

I also got to play in two Masters conducting students' independent project of two Bach cantatas done one on a part- 140 (Wachet Auf, aka. The Most Famous Cantata Ever) and 78 (aka. One Of Those Ones No-one Knows). I had a lot of fun, and they came together really well; I really love playing Bach. We played in the atrium, which surprisingly enough provided good acoustics for once. You'd never want to play chamber winds pieces there (though we do, oh we do), but it approximates a large church quite well. I was a little nervous, because the other oboist and I alternated playing first, so I was playing the aria in 140, and in the two rehearsals it had been a little...subpar. But it went really well at the performance: a good reed and good musicality too. :-D


I know my promises are fast becoming worthless, but I'm going to try really hard to get back in the swing of things while here at camp and to post regularly. I've been "finding myself," I suppose, this past year, as well as living a lot farther from my friends, and the result has been, as you are well aware, a lack of regular oboe blogging as I adjust to my new, increasingly adult life.

I promise to try, though, to start back up again. I like having this blog, and I don't want to disappear! The problem right now may in fact be too much to say and too little time (as well as too ineffective internet)!


I arrived at EMF on Saturday evening, and most of Saturday and Sunday were spent roaming around with little to do except go to meetings (welcomes, dorm meetings, work study meetings, orchestra meetings, etc) and take a placement audition. I was pretty happy with how my audition went; I played the second movement of the Bach partita I played on my recital and the EH excerpt from Roman Carnival. I wasn't expecting to win an EH solo, really, since while I love playing EH, I'm not one of the top EH players at my school. But I must have done well, because these first two weeks I'm playing 2nd/EH in Roman Carnival, and 3rd/EH in Mahler Symphony 2 mvt 1. While I'm sad to miss Beethoven 5 and Bartok Concerto for Orchestra (expecially Bartok), I can't really complain about Roman Carnival!

Today we began the festival proper. I had a very good lesson this morning with Randall Ellis, who I have lessons with for the first three weeks of camp. We worked on Roman Carnival and then the first movement of the Vaughan Williams concerto. It's been a while since I've looked at the Vaughan Williams, but due to the placement of my recital as well as things in the rest of my life, I don't really have something new worked up. At the end of the year, I was working on excerpts, etudes, and reeds, mostly. I'm really looking forward to learning the concerto, though. Such a gorgeous piece. We worked on musicality: phrasing, vibrating pick-ups, making sure every note has motion, etc. It was pretty helpful, and I'm glad to see that while Mr. Ellis is very nice (& complimentary), his critiques are apt, and his compliments are very believable. Sometimes you run into teachers who are uncertain enough of your abilities and temperament that they let it get in the way of being helpful. I would rather have a harsh teacher than a overly complimentary or patronizing one.

This afternoon, then, we finally had our first orchestra rehearsal: Roman Carnival. I was a little nervous, as our conductor is Gerald Schwarz and each time I'd seen Mr. Ellis he had warned me to be very meticulous in following Mr. Schwarz's directions. I will say that Mr. Schwarz is a little intimidating, but he was very understanding of our rather messy (sight-reading) rehearsal today, and as I was very careful to follow his directions to the best of my ability he was very complimentary of my solo. I'd forgotten, somehow, just how exposed and important that solo is, but oh, I had such fun. It was a very good first rehearsal, aside from one glaringly obvious wrong note. But I'm pretty sure I made a good first impression, at least. :-D (The issue, I think, will be tuning. We alternate between two rehearsal spaces, and the hall where we were today was exceedingly hot, to the point where I began to get dizzy when repeating sections of my solo over and over. I will be sure to bring water tomorrow.)

I'm really excited to be here. Orchestral playing really is my first and only true love.


(It was also a little bit exciting to finally have a need for my fantastic BAM oboe/EH case. I got it just after my last doubling concert of the year. It's fabulously light, and the backpack straps are really convenient. The only problem is a lack of room for music and reed tools, but the convenience more than makes up for that. Here are a few pictures of my shiny case and of the campus here at EMF.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Program Notes: Recital, Spring 09

(In the post below this one, I have linked to a recording of my recital.)

Partita in a minor, BWV 1013; J. S. Bach (1685-1750)


Originally for solo flute, Bach’s Partita in a minor (c. 1720-1725) shares a style with much of Bach’s music for solo wind or string instrument, such as his cello suites and violin partitas. The piece is a dance suite, and the movements (Allemande, Corrente, Sarabande, Bourrée) are all popular Baroque dance forms in rounded binary form. Bach combines simple, arioso melodic writing, as in the Sarabande, with highly contrapuntal and complex passages, found throughout the Allemande and Corrente. The prevalence of arpeggios and wide leaps, which emphasize the chordal nature of Bach’s writing and allow his counterpoint to come to the surface, is reminiscent of writing for string instruments.

Each movement begins with a statement of the theme. In the Allemande, the arpeggiated theme repeats often, and is generally unaltered save for transposition. The music surrounding it, however, is altered each time for a great deal of variety. The Corrente is more fantastical, with a longer, more melodic theme. The theme here is treated more loosely, rarely coming back in its original form. The calm, regal Sarabande provides a striking contrast to the almost frantic motion of the other three movements, in which it is left to the performer draw melody and harmony out of strings of constant sixteenth-notes. The Bourrée Anglaise features the most distinct theme of the three fast movements. As in the Allemande, the theme comes back verbatim frequently, and makes good use of the distinctive bourrée rhythm, short-short-long.


Three Piece Suite for Oboe and Piano; Madeleine Dring (1923-1977)

Like the Partita, Dring’s Three Piece Suite (1984) was originally written for another instrument. The piece was adapted by Dring’s oboist husband, Roger Lord, from her Suite for harmonica and piano, and the result is both showy and idiomatic. Dring studied with Vaughan Williams, and the influence of his style, and that of the early 20th century school of British composition, pervades the Suite. This is particularly noticeable in the lush, pastoral Romance and the quirky, rustic qualities of the military Finale.

The opening Showpiece pairs perpetual motion with hints of seductive Orientalism. With few exceptions, the piano is distinctly secondary, providing an off-kilter underpinning for the oboe. A brief contrasting lyrical section near the end of the movement emphasizes the energy and drama of the movement’s close. The Romance features a serene melody over slow piano chords and arpeggios; though the piano occasionally shares the melody, the oboe is distinctly in the foreground of the movement. A more intense middle section pairs a slower tempo with more rapid notes to increase tension and emotion, but the movement ends as it began, in a lullaby or a gentle love song. The Finale is everything the Romance is not: boyish, energetic, and mischievous, the movement is filled with dramatic dynamic and stylistic changes. The piano plays a more active role here, adding to the excitement. As the movement drives to its close, Dring interrupts with short tranquillo interjections, rather than a single contrasting section. Three of these interjections lead back to the energetic mood which pervades the movement, but rather than closing loudly and brightly, the piece fades away into the distance, lento e dolce.


Concerto da Camera; Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)

Born in Italy, Castelnuovo-Tedesco immigrated to the United States shortly before World War II, and found a new home in Hollywood, where he composed for many films and strongly influenced later film composers like Henry Mancini and John Williams. His Concerto da Camera (1950) is a dramatic work with many Baroque influences. Unlike the Dring Suite, the piano (originally orchestra) plays an active and equal role; each movement contains fugal sections.

The first movement, Moderato-Grave, opens with imitation between the oboe and piano, and the oboe’s solo entrance is replicated to some degree in all four movements. This movement is relatively sparse, and generally melancholy and calm, alternating between similar yet distinct tempos and themes. Nevertheless, there are moments of emotional strength. The Giga again opens with a solo oboe and fugal material upon the entrance of the piano. The movement has a frantic air, and uses the high register of the oboe to great effect. A contrasting middle section transforms the movement’s main theme into a dolce song, before returning to the original energetic, dance-like mood. The Aria is reminiscent of trio sonata texture, the piano functioning both as a fugal voice and a steady underpinning of eighth-notes. The movement’s two themes work together, the flowing initial theme consistently leading to resolution in the more active and emotional second theme, and the movement ends with a quasi cadenza on the second theme. Though the fourth movement does contain some fugal material, in general the division between the oboe and piano is more distinct. Abrupt tempo changes and exaggerated effects increase the energy of the movement, while a heavy emphasis on the first beat of each measure lives up to the movement’s initial marking, pomposo. The movement ends with a flourish; as each of the first three movements fades away, the bold ending of the piece is all the more effective.


For citation info, please contact me by leaving a comment on this post, or emailing racheloboes [at] gmail [dot] com. Please credit Rachel Becker if using quotes/specific information from these notes.

My recital!

I've uploaded the videos of my recital here.

(This was recorded on my digital camera, and I did not know before hand that my camera would only record for three minutes at a time, or that the battery would only last for 45 minutes of a 50 minute recital. Thus the questionable sound quality, the odd breaks in the middles of movements and the fact that the Concerto only has three movements. )

I'm particularly happy with the first and third movments of the Bach, and the first and third movements of the Concerto. The Dring is by far the weakest of the three, partly because I changed reeds and partly because it was the point at which my nerves caught up with me, though I must admit I'm much happier with it after listening to the CD of my recital.

I do think that this is a fair indication of my playing ability, which I'm pleased about. Yes, I can play the pieces with fewer wrong notes, and yes, my tone slipped a few times and my reed started to go a few times, but in general, I played near the best of my ability, especially in terms of tone and intonation.

Any and all comments are welcome, whether praise or concrit. :-)

If anyone would like to hear the fair copy of my recital, I would be glad to get you a copy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm sorry, I had intended to have another post before my recital, but unfortunately I had a family emergency which took up at least all of my spare emotional time.


In short, both of my dress rehearsals went really well, and I had a reed break-through. We're each allotted 3 hours of dress rehearsal time in our performance space, and I split mine up so that I had one rehearsal a week before, and one a few days later. This was nice because it meant not only that both my professor and one of the symphony guys could come hear me play, but that I had time to process and alter anything specific to the space.

My reed breakthrough was a bit embarrassing, actually. It turns out that I've spent my whole life tying on my reeds backwards. I've always tied reeds "overhand," though with the typical overlap, which means that my tying did not push against the overlap, but rather slid it further to the right. Having fixed this, I'm surprised at the immediate difference. I haven't yet made very many reeds since, but every one I've made has had a distinct low crow, and I can tell that the opening is more stable. I'm very excited; I think this will really make a difference in my consistency.

I was lucky enough, also, in the time leading up to my recital, to have time to work not only with my professor and two of the symphony oboists, but with Petrea Warneck, who has come up for several weeks to give lessons and teach masterclass. I found that working on reeds with her was particularly helpful, as her reed is built a little more similarly to mine than my professor's. For example, both hers and mine are on the longer side. I was hoping to play my recital on reeds which I had made independently, but it turned out that both of the reeds I played on were ones which I had made and Ms. Warneck had polished up. And in the end, I couldn't refuse to play on the best reeds in my box because on (hazy) principal.


I haven't recieved the fair copy of my recital recording yet, but I asked one of the oboists in the studio to record it on my tiny digital camera. Overall, I'm quite happy with how I played, and I thought that I maintained good tone and phrasing even when I was pretty tired, though of course I can nit-pick it to death (tempos, bizarre missed notes, fatigue, tuning slips, etc.). Once I figure out how best to do so, and once I have a chance to listen to a good recording, I will upload a few of the videos (along with more thoughts on them) for anyone who's curious. I'll also post my program notes, which are much less extensive than last year's.


I'm incredibly relieved that my recital is over, but I can't fully relax quite yet; I have an excerpt board on Monday, for which I have to learn excerpts from The Top Ten, plus the exposition of the Mozart Concerto. Luckily, I've played the majority of the excerpts before. I do have to learn the opening of Don Juan, though. I love playing it, but I need to get my tonguing up from 72 to 84.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm sorry, I haven't quite gotten to the commenting on other people's blogs stage yet.

Last Tuesday, I had the hearing for my recital. What this involves is (theoretically) playing your whole program through for a panel of three professors, who ensure that you won't embarrass yourself at your recital. This is also what you are technically graded on. What this comes to in reality is closer to a coaching, at the end of which your teacher signs off. Or at least that's how it goes in the oboe studio. At any rate, I played my two accompanied pieces for both my teacher and Dwight (with piano), and was checked off by both.
I offer proof:





















The week before your recital, the scheduling office, which is in charge of printing programs, prints a copy of your program and pins it to a bulletin board. Now, as I have posted a picture, you can see that my program clearly states "Rachel B*, oboe" and that one of my pieces is titled "Three Piece Suite for Oboe and Piano." This wasn't clear enough for the office, however. They've printed my program as "Rachel B*, flute." Tomorrow I shall go to the scheduling office and Have A Word with them.


On Saturday we had our orchestra concert, at which we played Saariaho's Oltra Mar, which I liked, and every other person in the orchestra and choir hated intensely. They also did the Mozart C minor Mass, which I didn't play in. The concert went just fine, and we're all excited to be moving on to Mahler 1. And the soloists in the Mass were really fantastic, particularly the mezzo.


I'm feeling intensely melodramatic now, as I do for approximately two weeks preceding my recitals, but in reality my recital prep is going just fine. I've managed to run through my program one and a half times in a sitting, and it's quite reassuring that I have that endurance. This week at some point I'm going to run through the whole thing twice in a row- what I've been doing mostly is running through the piece once and then working small spots. And my accompanist is great- there's always a risk, of course, working with a new pianist, and even more when you've asked them because they're your friend, but she's very good and everything's going really well with putting the parts together. This week we've finally reached the point where we can start being musical together, rather than just counting furiously to avoid coming in at the wrong place.

I had a lesson yesterday with the second oboist in the symphony, and my schedule from now until my recital looks something like this:
Thursday: lesson, dress rehearsal

Saturday: dress rehearsal

Sunday: quintet performance

Monday: midterm

Tuesday: two lessons

Wednesday: midterm

???: writing program notes

Thursday: RECITAL.


I really liked working with Lon, the second oboist, though he's very dry- so much so that it was a bit hard for me to tell when he was being complimentary and when he was being sarcastic. I wouldn't say it was one of the most helpful lessons I've had, but that was more because I'm at the point where I'm a) only playing recital stuff and b) know exactly how I'm going to play those pieces. 9 days before is no time to be changing anything substantial. As a result, it was mostly a "let me play for you to get over my nerves" lesson. Those are good too, but I wish I was able to have a lesson with him that wasn't two weeks before my recital. I think I would have gotten more out of it. I felt very much at ease with him; he's very unassuming, if that's the word I mean, and so it's easy to talk with him in a relatively equal way.


I had a very small lesson last week with Petrea Warneck, who came to do a masterclass. I was meant to play in the masterclass, but we ran out of time, and instead I had a half hour lesson with her directly before my hearing. We worked on interpretation of the Bach, as I do with every teacher I encounter, and she, Chris, and Lon have been really helpful in helping me find ways to moderate the conflicting interpretations which I've been trying to mesh in the piece. She's coming again on Monday, and I'll have another lesson with her.



My goal for between now and my recital is being more fluid and lyrical. I know all of the notes, and I can play them. I know what my interpretation of the pieces is. I know how my part fits with the piano. Now to get just a little bit closer to that higher level, that last layer of finesse that makes everything sparkle and sing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Don't eat a pink marshmallow Peep before playing.

They do unfortunate things to the color of your reeds.


Last week I had a lesson with the symphony English horn player, as we're rotating between teachers. I unfortunately didn't play any English horn rep for him, just recital music, but it was a pretty good lesson nonetheless. We worked on Bach, and he helped me merge some of my (rather more Romantic) ideas with some of Dwight's (rather more straightforward) ideas, which was really helpful; I have trouble sometimes finding the middle ground. It was also nice simply to play the piece for another person, because it definitely shows all of my nerves, particularly in the Allemande, the opening movement.

The lesson was a little awkward just because I had never worked with him before. He didn't really have a sense of how I usually play, and so he tended towards overly explaining concepts, but it was still certainly a helpful lesson. Plus, he gave me a reed, though it is dramatically different from mine and very short, and he let my lesson run for an extra half an hour. I think that I would really like studying with him if we had more time to get to know each other; his specific comments on the Bach were really musical and also very individual. We did a lot of work, for example, on finding less predictable and more intuitive breathing spots.


My recital is in two and a half weeks, and while most of last week I was feeling very pessimistic about my playing, in the past week I've done two run-throughs of my program (alone, not with piano) and had two more rehearsals with my pianist. I feel really good about how the music is going together with the piano, which is wonderful. On Tuesday I have my recital hearing, where I will play all or part of my program with my accompanist for Dwight, who is standing in as my professor, and have my program signed off. By Thursday I then turn in my signed program and program notes to the office.


I'm very excited to have orchestra rehearsal tomorrow, and not only because we're rehearsing with the choir. I haven't gotten to play in orchestra since the 8th! That is far too long.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

On Monday I had another really great lesson with Dwight. I definitely like working with him. I played some more Bach for him, and we did work on my ornaments; he helped me edit them so that they add to the line and direction of the piece rather than just overwhelming it. Although both my professor, who was sitting in on about half of the lesson, and Dwight liked a lot of them to begin with. I'm glad that I'm doing this, because I really have no previous experience in ornamenting music, and it's certainly a useful skill to have. (...upon listening to the absolutely fantastic recording of Alex Klein playing the Bach, I appear to have spontaneously used about 75% of the same ornaments. Dr. O actually commented on this in my lesson, but I didn't know what he meant. I suppose there are only so many different ornaments that you can feasibly use in any given spot?) We worked on the Dring some too, and I have since been spending most of my practice time working up very specific parts of this, a half hour on those 4 measure, 20 minutes on those 5, etc. I need to get all of my fingers more automatic so that I can concentrate more fully on making music.

I can't articulate exactly what it is, but Dwight is a really good teacher, and regardless of whether or not I agree with his larger interpretations, his smaller musical ideas are always spot on and really well articulated. Plus he inspires me to practice a lot, though some of this is from the fact that my schedule this quarter is much more convenient than last quarter's, and so I can space out my practicing more effectively. Still, I want to impress him, and I feel he's likely to notice if I'm not playing my best.


On Tuesday, I had a lesson with Scott Bell of the Pittsburgh Symphony, who was visiting this week and conducted our masterclass on Monday. We worked on the Bach and Dring, and I got some really good feedback about all important issues like not losing the line. Mostly just basic things, but he phrased all of his comments really well, and I needed to be called out on all of them, particularly in the Bach. I get so caught up in all of my as yet conflicting interpretations in the Bach that I forget to maintain on my tone and phrasing and all of the good stuff that makes the piece sound, well, musical rather than like a bunch of crazy notes. (This is also why I've been doing very specific practicing. I need to be confident enough in my fingers that I can think on my feet. Obviously by the time of my recital I will have a specific interpretation, but right now several different versions are warring in my head and trying to trip up my fingers.)

When I first came in he had me just play a fairly slow scale (E flat, two octaves) to get a sense of how I played, and he was apparently really impressed by how I sounded on that. Unfortunately, he was then...disappointed in comparison by my actual playing (he said "when you played the scale, I was like, this is a real oboist, a real musician," and then he sort of trailed off in a loaded way). So, yay! But darn. It's no good to be able to play a scale with great tone and phrasing and control, but to then be unable to replicate that in anything else. I have actually sort of noticed this as I begin to be more confident in the Bach and the Dring, as well as in the Castelnuovo-Tedesco, that I can have trouble maintaining my tone and the line of the music. This is definitely something for me to fix. Some of it is the stage I'm at in learning the music, but there's certainly a larger lesson here. I think on the whole, though, he thought I played well. It was a little hard for me to get a sense of that, though, since I was sort of on high alert after his comment.


I finished The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross, after a 6 month long hiatus during which it got lost on my bookshelf. It was fascinating and well written from start to finish. It's a mix of:
-intense descriptions of compositions ("The swan hymn, now carried by the trumpets, undergoes convulsive transformations and is reborn as a fearsome new being. Its intervals split wide open, shatter apart, re-form. The symphony ends with six far-flung chords, through which the main theme shoots like a pulse of energy. The swan becomes the sun." p. 168),
-general and specific information about so many composers ("In his later years [Stockhausen] revealed a mystical streak, bordering on the hippie-dippy; it turned out that he had lived many past lives, and that he claimed to be extraterrestrial in origin." p. 394),
-quotes, quotes, quotes ("When music is heard, it is shot through with time, like a shining crystal; unheard music drops through empty time like a useless bullet." p. 357),
-and some bonus awesomeness ("Black-and-white categories make no sense in the shadowland of dictatorship. These composers were neither saints nor devils; they were flawed actors on a tilted stage." p. 218).
I highly recommend it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Well...hello again.

Spring quarter began last Monday, and with it I'm back to writing, reading and commenting. Winter quarter was stressful and a little overwhelming, and I just needed to take that little bit more time for myself. I'm sorry for disappearing for so long without any warning. My last quarter in brief: my academic classes were history, which was unfortunately simplistic, and theory, whose professor was unfortunately difficult to please. I rotated into band, and also into chamber winds. Chamber winds was really enjoyable, and I got to play second in Mozart's Gran Partita, but band was, well, less enjoyable. I did play in the Strauss competition, though I didn't make it to the second round, and unfortunately I didn't get to sub into Also Sprach. But such is life.

My teacher was very distracted all quarter, as a result of planning a "Loree Fest," featuring guest Alain de Gourdon, the head of Loree, and the oboists in the symphony. We had masterclasses, an oboe petting zoo, a couple store booths, and a concert. It was really a lot of fun and quite a success. I played the Sarabande from the unaccompanied Bach suite in the Vade Mecum, and was unusually happy with my performance.

I spent the first month or so of the quarter furiously practicing the exposition of the Mozart concerto, Don Juan, and La Scala for my audition for the Lucca Opera Festival, which is a CCM summer program, though it's open to the wider public. I was incredibly excited at the program and anxious that nothing would go wrong in my audition, playing in masterclass, etc. I was very proud to work up La Scala to 120; I seem to have finally cracked, or at least put a big dent in, my very longstanding tonguing issues. But out of the blue Lucca was cancelled, which left me scrambling to find other summer programs to apply to and other audition material to work up. I ended up applying to Brevard, Chatauqua, Sewanee, and Eastern. I was waitlisted at Brevard and, oddly, Sewanee, but I found out last week that I was accepted to Eastern. I've applied twice in the past to Eastern and gotten waitlisted, so it's fantastic to get it. I'm really looking forward to going.


This quarter, my professor is on sabbatical, so we're being taught by three of the four oboists in the symphony. I end up having 7 lessons with the principal oboist, Dwight, and 3 lessons collectively with the other two. I'm really looking forward to it. I had my first lesson last Monday, which was a little nerve-wracking simply because I'd been out of the country and away from the oboe all of the preceeding week, leaving my out of shape and playing very old reeds. But while I didn't play to the best of my abilities, I didn't outright embarrass myself, which counts for something. I played most of the
unaccompanied Bach sonata we stole from the flutes. Now, the thing about this Bach is that it tends to be very polarizing in terms of interpretations. I've played parts of it for four different teachers now, and they have alternated between interpreting it very Romantically, with a lot of rubato and such, and very straight. I had been working on it with my professor last quarter, and he'd shared my opinion, the former. However, Dwight decidedly does not see the piece that way. I'm having a lot of trouble deciding how I ultimately am going to play the piece, but I'm trying very hard to be able to play it both ways. There are a few things I absolutely refuse to give up, and in one mvt I actually really agree with Dwight, but the rest of it...well, we'll see. I'm grown up enough now to realize that perhaps my teacher does know better than I do, even if I have strong opinions, but I also know that it's all about making your own interpretation, and if you can't convince yourself, you can't convince anyone. I do recognize that his is a musical and valid interpretation. I'm just not sure that mine isn't also. We shall see. It's at least a good exercise for me to play it in what frankly is a much more period appropriate style.

This past week I worked on that, as well as modifying the articulation of the first movement and writing ornamentation for the fourth movement, which has been very difficult. I find it very hard to write ornaments for any music, and Bach (fast Bach, too) is no exception. I have another lesson tomorrow, so I'll see what input he has for me. (My recital is in just over a month, and I'm playing the Bach, Madeleine Dring's Three Piece Suite, and the Castelnuovo-Tedesco Concerto da Camera. I'm nervous, because May 7 seems very, very soon indeed, but I'm really excited about all of the pieces.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I disappeared on purpose this time...but I did mean to leave a note.

I'm on oboe blog hiatus until next quarter, which starts on March 30, after several more summer program auditions, another concert or two, and a week long trip to visit my friend in England.

Sorry to have vanished! I will return.