I said Sondheim’s Passion wasn’t my fave … but I am much more fond of it now than I was 2 hours ago! The Live From Lincoln Center broadcast was absolutely wonderful.
It seems much more like opera than a musical, though. Although I’ve yet to figure out what the difference is. Hmmm. Neither can the cast; they are discussing this very thing right now.
Oh … here we go … It isn’t opera “because Stephen Sondheim doesn’t write for opera, he writes for 45th Street, he writes for Broadway.” Thanks, Patti Lupone.
I agree with Audra McDonald, though; it is a chamber opera and certainly opera companies could (and should) do this! Just as they should do Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music.
Opera San Jose, in fact, should do a summer series of Sondheim. Don’t you think? What a wonderful use of The California Theatre this would be!
“The pure, piercing wail of an A-440 quiets all the extraneous noise and we begin tuning.”
I don’t know. I realize the sound of an oboe can be piercing, and we can even wail, but when tuning the orchestra? I sure hope that’s not how it sounds!
But this is a fun little read, despite those two words.
Meanwhile … I’m sitting here watching the “live” (if I lived in New York anyway) broadcast of Sondheim’s Passion. It’s not my favorite Sondheim music, but I wanted to see and hear what this broadcast would be like. One thing I can already complain about (since I complain so very well) is the way it is filmed. I absolutely hate it when a live performance is filmed the way this one is. Rather than filming the entire stage, the person who is in charge of the cameras decides what we are looking at, and a moment ago he or she decided we needed to look at books. I prefer to have the camera stay on the complete stage and let me decide if I want to focus on one musician, actor or even a boot.
Call me silly, but I think I should get to decide what to look at. Just as I would at the live performance.
I like Wagner’s music better than any other music. It is so loud that one can talk the whole time without people hearing what one says. That is a great advantage.
(Seems appropriate since we are doing Wagner right now!)
Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.
Musical people are so absurdly unreasonable. They always want one to be
perfectly dumb at the very moment when one is longing to be absolutely deaf.
-Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Anglo-Irish playwright, author Mabel Chiltern, in “An Ideal Husband,” Act 2
I received the following quote via an email list:
“Classical music is dying in the USA and nothing, short of resurrecting Leonard Bernstein, will halt it.”
I guess it’s time to sell the old oboe. Who will buy? Make an offer I can’t refuse!
But seriously, while I think there are some things we need to figure out regarding the future of classical music, I’m not ready to nail the coffin shut. Nor do I think Leonard Bernstein has quite the power this person thinks he has. (Nor do we have resurrection power!)
Opera began today. Wagner. The Flying Dutchman. Good oboe stuff. Don’t forget to get your tickets if you’re a local yokel. Or you far away folks could fly in if you so desire; if you do I’ll buy you a cuppa joe! Maybe even a dessert. If you’re nice. ;-)
Violinist Ilkka Talvi was concermaster of the Seattle Symphony until his recent firing. Turns out that he started blogging this month and there’s some interesting reading there in case anyone wants to check it out. His very first post (scroll down to the bottom) is one I can easily relate to; I’ve definitely played under the “DLU” sorts of conductors! (Some of those conductors seem to be “CUI” — conducting under the influence — and, in fact, I know one who often was.) Many of us who are at that wonderful age (hah!) where we need reading glasses added to our eyeglasses prescription even decide to have them made in such a way that the conductor remains a bit of a blur. Heck, with some conductors it’s just safer! (I’m NOT speaking of the symphony conductors I’ve worked with recently, by the way, so stop your guessing!)
Anyway, it’s a blog I’ll keep reading.
As to firing a concertmaster — that does happen. I haven’t a clue what Mr. Talvi’s particular story is, so I’m not going to defend or criticize here. I also won’t comment on the conductor, Gerard Schwarz, although I’m fairly sure he came down here once and I have a feeling I remember it. (I’ll have to verify this with my colleagues before I state that he was here as fact, though.)
But losing a job … OUCH. We musicians don’t have it easy, but at least those of us in the “ranks” usually have contracts that allow a bit of protection once we get tenure. A concertmaster is usually not included in the orchestral contract (from all I know, anyway, which is very little!). I’m very happy to sit in the oboe section, thank you very much.
Musical compositions, it should be remembered, do not inhabit certain countries, certain museums, like paintings and statues. The Mozart Quintet is not shut up in Salzburg: I have it in my pocket.
These are my hands. Kelsey (my daughter) painted them. So I suppose they are kind of her hands as well.
But, really, they look just like my hands. A friend saw the picture and knew immediately they were mine. I liked that!
I just thought I’d share the picture with you, in case you’ve never wandered into The Library and checked out Kelsey’s art!
Yep. I just posted some more oboe auditions that are coming up, including New York Philharmonic’s Principal Oboe Audition. (I don’t have the repertoire for that one, so if anyone else does I sure would love to have it emailed to me.) Visit Professional Orchestra Auditions to see the long list.
I’m guessing a lot of people are practicing hard these days. There sure are a lot of openings.
Auditions are fairly ridiculous things, if you ask me. Each player (and most who audition are excellent) has about 5 minutes to shine. It’s not at all like playing a performance with an orchestra, because you have none of the support we all love so much. No comfort of colleagues who will be (silently) cheering you on. No accompaniment that makes the solo work so much easier (you have to hear all of that in your head). No conductor (to drive you nuts but also to help keep the tempo steady — sometimes, anyway!). No audience to be seen, since the majority of auditions are behind a screen. No feedback whatsoever. So everything about an audition is unnatural. I despise them from either side of the screen. But that’s what we have to live with. Sigh.
I would much prefer having a few people sit in the orchestra and see who is the best fit. But, alas, some would consider that unfair. So we can’t do that.
But enough of what I think! I’m not taking these auditions so why should I get grumpy about it all? For those of you who are considering entering the competition, check out the nice long list and turn in those resumés!
Terry Teachout writes about the oath he took, among other things. It reminded me of what I signed when I took on my job at a particular university. I, too, swore an oath that I would “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”. I kind of laughed when I signed it, though. I’ll fight to the death with my music, I suppose.
Oh! But I do have reed knives and razor blades, so maybe I can truly do some damage! (I can damage with music too, yes? Just some bad intonation and a rotten reed should do the trick.)
His blog also reminds me, too, of the ever-so-brief time I was able to spend in a poetry workshop with Dana Gioia. I always wished I had been able to somehow do something with music and poetry but aside from the Christmas programs I used to do it never happened. At one point I was hoping to get to another workshop and see what Mr. Gioia could offer with this idea. Then we lost touch and now I’m too embarrassed to bother him, as he is a very important person and I’m a lowly oboist. Sigh. (Hmmm. Why do the words “lowly” and “oboist” seem to go so well together, I wonder!)
Anyway, I envy Mr. Teachout his position. But only in a healthy-envy sort of way! :-)
“Holy Gosh, I must have doped off, Pop!”
(I am just finishing up with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. and I couldn’t resist posting this quote!)
Bartholomew ‘Bart’ Collins: “I don’t think the piano is my instrument.”
Dr. Terwilliker: “What other instruments are there, pray tell? Scratchy violins, screechy piccolos, nauseating trumpets, et cetera, et cetera?”
From The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.
(This movie was one that I loved as a child, although it sure did scare me! Not enough to force me to practice a lot, though. “Practice makes perfect, practice makes perfect ….”)
Well, I was the sole chooser of music on my way down to Irvine, but since I was driving Kelsey home, I let her do the choosing for the drive back up. Oh … except that since the radio was set to a jazz station we listened to that as we suffered through LA traffic. (HOW can people stand to live in that area? Ugh.)
So on the way home it was The Decemberists, The Roches, and Simon & Garfunkel. Different choices than what I would have put on, but fine, none the less. (Or is it “nonetheless”? Hmmm. Spell checker isn’t saying nonetheless isn’t a word.)
Many miles later (we took a side trip to see the Poppy Preserve) we are home safely. (I’m not sure about the sane part!)
So, if the people written about in this article can walk 33 miles to New York to hear a concert, i wonder how many from UCSC would walk over the hill to hear a Symphony Silicon Valley concert. It’s close to the same distance!
It took the walkers 3 days to walk the 33 miles, which did seem like a lengthy time; I believe I walked 20 miles in one day when I was in high school. But then they probably had hills, and I walked around San Jose. Not a terribly hilly place!
But anyway, I liked the idea of doing this. And I think hearing the New York Philharmonic would be a great reward for those sore feet!
They took vans back home, by the way.