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Preview: Wild Reeds on Mica Peak

Wild Reeds on Mica Peak

where the wild things are...

Updated: 2018-03-02T08:15:41.791-08:00


Reeds reeds reeds


I have been very lucky to have a LOT going on the past few months, but of course that means I'm going through reeds faster. I would guess most oboists have tried "saving" a reed - playing the dreadful reeds hoping the "good" one will still be good when you need it! But in my experience reeds don't wait for the big performance...there are so many factors involved that your perfect reed on Monday may be just awful on Friday. So I don't tend to save my best ones, I just play on whatever is working at the time. I have been thinking about reeds more and more, partly because I have been asked to teach at a reed making camp this summer! This is not something I have done in the past, although of course I have taught my students to make reeds (to varying degrees of success). So I've been pondering what exactly makes a reed good, and how to explain that to someone else, and how to consistently make good reeds - which is what we ALWAYS want to do but at least in my case, I just don't! So I'm trying some new things. First I'm naming all my reeds. Boy names. Alphabetical. Has been fun to think of names but also I notice that I can remember George and how he behaved easier than R24, or the varigated blue with a streak on the bark. Secondly, I'm counting my knife strokes. Seriously. I figure why not. So 20 strokes on each quarter before I cut the tip. Then depending on the hardness of the cane, about 100 strokes on each tip quarter, and maybe 40 on the sides of the heart. I use a dial micrometer so I have a number I'm aiming for, but counting seems to work pretty well. Thirdly I'm keeping a journal of every reed - which type of cane and what shape, date, where I tied it on, thread color and maybe if it had anything weird, like soft cane, or really narrow opening or anything. That is something I have tried to do in the past but haven't been very successful at continuing. Seems to help that I'm naming them, maybe I feel more of a commitment. So I'm off to make some more reeds. William and probably Xavier - I mean, what else can you do with X?



I am finding myself in a conundrum. Sometimes my big mouth gets me into more troubling spots!

One of the chamber groups I play with meets at a local church, where they allow us to keep instruments and rehearse for free. We have played for their service, and recently I noticed the choir director passing out parts to the Vivaldi Gloria when we were rehearsing. Thinking I could help this little church choir out with my fabulous playing skills, I offered to play the oboe part with them. I assumed this would be for their church service and that they would probably have someone playing the organ and the church choir. 

It came to light that I was unable to attend rehearsal since I have orchestra the same night as the church choir rehearsals. The director seemed OK with this, and since I have played it before I wasn't too worried about it. Since there is an obbligato part, he mentioned the soprano might give me a call so we can go over that movement before the performance. When I didn't hear from her, I called the director as time is getting short and found that in fact this was not for church service, but for an afternoon concert. He had forgotten to tell me that they had agreed we would just run through the movement right before the concert at two. Still not a big deal, I figured it was just a special after-Christmas event for the church.

Yesterday I went to my chamber music rehearsal, and I noticed a large number of chairs set up in front of risers--as though for a small orchestra and a large choir. I saw some names on stands which made me realize all the A-Team players from the big orchestra in town would be playing for this ensemble. The soloist is apparently not a little old church lady, but the fairly well known opera singer. And instead of offering my services for free to help the little church choir, I am involved in this rather big event with all the musical hoi polloi in town! 

It is possible I could've been asked to play this gig, although I would guess they would've asked a few other people first given the other names in the orchestra. I think I can still do a pretty good job, but I am feeling very insecure about the whole thing, since I had such a wildly different perception of what I was doing! Not really sure why I am dwelling so much on this event. Hoping things go well on Sunday, but I will think twice before blindly offering to help out the next time!



The longer I play, the more I realize I don't know. Last weekend I recorded some English horn trio things, an original piece that was quite lovely. But recording in a studio is sooo revealing! I thought I sounded pretty good, but you can hear the tiniest chirp on the reed, the little bobbles in intonation (or the big ones), and the uneven vibrato or lack, very humbling. So I decided I really need to record myself at least once a week and listen critically. This is something I think every teacher TELLS you to do, but I have only done it once or twice. I pride myself that I can listen and tell, but recordings dont lie. So we'll see if this is a good thing or not.

How can we be halfway through summer?


Well, the wonderful Fireworks concert was cancelled. Hopefully it will happen again next year, those of us in town (and quite a few had come for the concert) played an impromptu march by the river - I think we had aspirations of a "flashmob" but no one was that orgainized! It was nice to see everyone, and I brought my "camping oboe" which is an ancient ring system that my DH got on Craigslist. I guess this counts as a gig. I am working on contracts for the opera, being the manager is a huge pain mostly, but I do like being involved! Also, I am afraid I would never get hired again if I quit. At least for that gig, so I slog onward. The theatre is having lots of growing pains with a new general manager. The "usuals" from the pit orchestra are all worried about being hired this year - I guess I have always figured it was wonderful while it lasted, but not to count on anything. Oddly, this fall they are doing Fiddler - which has a real oboe/EH book, I am pretty much the obvious choice for this but maybe they won't hire more than a combo...seems like a shame for such a big show. With all the trips to visit family and camps and our "free" tickets to the local theme summer is booked up! In just over a week we have our first symphony rehearsal - Opera starts in less than 6 weeks. Excited!!!

No rest know!


Well, since my last post where I was bemoaning the fact that I had no gigs for the month of July, I now am playing two first oboe things, summer band concerts on clarinet every Monday, and a parade on soprano sax. We are also going to be gone for over a week, and another week in August, so suddenly my summer feels pretty crammed. 

I have been working on articulations and feel like I have made some good progress, although there's always further one could go! One of the concerts I'll be doing is a sub gig, I really hope they are wildly impressed with my playing, so they hire me again. 

The other is our wonderful Royal fireworks concert, which we all thought would be canceled this year, but it looks like we will eek out at least one more year. This concert is for instrumentation of handles will fireworks music, and we play arrangements and original pieces for that ensemble (20-odd oboes, 4 eh, 16 ish bassoons, 8 horns, 8 trumpets, serpent, and percussion). It always ends with fireworks music, and of course there is fireworks over the river set to the music. We play on a floating stage in the middle of the beautiful parks, I love doing this gig every year! 

Summer goals


This summer was really depressing me for a while, as I finish a crazy spring playing all the time, I am faced with no gigs at all until late August. But after thinking this over, it will be so nice to have some actual practice time! So many things go by the wayside as I frantically prepare for each gig in turn. 

Here are the things I hope will be much improved in the next two months:
Soft low articulation
Single tongue speed
Variable speed vibrato

Of course I could go on and on, but I think that's enough to focus on. My litmus test for that low articulation will be Brahms Symphony 2, 2nd mvt, 2nd oboe part. Holy cow what a nasty mess that is! So glad I am not playing it next fall, I will be playing first! Did this on an audition last spring and couldn't believe how hard it was.

For the single tongue speed, I can play two notes in a row quite quickly, almost as fast as my double tongue. I have noticed if I slowly add notes, first three, then four then five, I can actually get going quite a bit faster.  So far these are all same pitch, but I plan to do different pitches in a week or so.  

The vibrato I've been working on for a while, I put the metronome on 60 and start with one about a poor measure, then increased to two, then three, and four, than five. At that point I do a whole note trill for two bars. Immediately following that back to five vibratos per bar, four, three, two and straight. This is way more difficult than it seems, and it's really great to add color to long notes. I noticed that I should probably practice my trills too, but holy cow lets not get carried away! 

Backwards practicing


I have always practiced all my major scales pretty much every day. But this week I started playing from the top going down instead of my usual way, starting at the bottom going up a couple of octaves.  Who would've thought this would be complicated any way? I am surprised that even though I have played these exact notes on the way down nearly every day for four decades, when I start at the top I really have to think about what comes next! Who would've thought I had neglected such an easy thing. I guess there really is no limit to what I can practice. 



So funny that my last post was entitled "the end of things". Since then, it has been revealed that my little orchestra is struggling to even finish this season financially. I am hopeful that we will at least make it through this season but the future is not looking super shiny. It really breaks my heart to think that through mismanagement we may lose this wonderful organization! 

We just finished our young artist concert, symphony played well and of course the soloists were all stellar. We were supposed to do symphonie Fantastique for our final concert in May, but apparently this is out of the question now. New repertoire has not been decided yet, it has really stressful. They're hoping to put something together in less rehearsals to save money. 

The theater is having a benefit, for which I will be playing oboe. It appears to just be a bunch of love songs from Broadway musicals, called "easy to love concert package". It appears to be just the songs with no storyline at all. Should be fun, and it's so much easier with just one instrument! Gypsy (opens in May) looks like I'll be playing at least four things, won't know for sure until we get the books and decide how to divide things up. 

In happier news I am trying a Loree Royale oboe right now, is used but seems to be in very good condition. I will decide next few days if I'm going to take the plunge. It's kind of tainted by the fact that their may not be a symphony next year, where will I play this fabulous instrument??

The end of things


Finally some of my insanity is ending! 
The oboe audition is over, and while I didn't win or even get to round two, I'm sort of impressed with myself for getting it together enough to present myself at this crazy point in my life! I played ok, but ok is not the standard at auditions these days-- even podunkville 2nd oboe auditions! There were some fabulous players duking it out, and I got to meet some great people. Slightly sad I wasn't in the running, but I'm really happy I won't be making that 4 hour (one way) drive!

Today is the last show of Crazy for You. Bittersweet really, so happy to get my time back but I will miss my "pit mates" - hahahaha! What a good word. The poor conductor never got the hang of actually conducting from the piano - sad since the band is really good. But we will mostly be together again in May for Gypsy, with yet another new music director. 

Symphony doesn't start up for another week, so my sax 4tet is taking that rehearsal time, we have a little mini recital at the end if February. When I'm not insanely busy, playing in sax 4tet is really fun- I play Bari and it is so different from my oboe stuff. 

In the aftermath of the audition, I wonder where I should put my energy, I'd like to focus on reed making for a whole, and I'm thinking hard about IDRS this year and the fancy new oboes there- but is it worth it? I think I'll never get that big dark sound out of my old Loree. It needs to be overhauled anyway, and I will probably sell my old Laubin. All speculation for now!

Oboe Audition


Everyone knows that auditions only come at the worst possible time, and this one came along unexpectedly in the middle of all my madness! It is in Little Brother's Town, about 4 hours away, so I'm not really hoping to win the audition, but I'd love to get "second" place - where they may call me to sub a couple times a year. Also, it is a good thing to update one's resume and go over those excerpts we all know and love... I can't believe the last time I updated my resume was 2005! Seems like I must have another one around somewhere, but that is the latest one on my computer. I have finally removed all the school ensembles from my list of groups, and it still looks pretty full. I sound impressive on paper anyway! And it is exciting to realize that some of those nasty excerpts are lurking around in the back of my brain still. I'm hoping to get through everything without a major crash. The only excerpt I have never done is the 2nd oboe part of Brahms 2nd symphony, mvt 2. All low articulations very soft - my worst thing! But amazingly I played it great tonight, we'll see what the reed Gods have decreed for next week. (image)

Back in the pit


Doing the show Crazy for You, must say I thought it would not be very hard, and in some ways it's not, but it has certainly been a challenge! I'm playing parts of books 3 and 5, so my instrumentation is oboe, English horn, clarinet, and bari sax.  I like playing the bari part even though it's a pain to put the two books together. Especially for my sub, who can only play clarinet and sax. No one else in town can cover the oboe parts, guess that's a sort of job security!

Of course one show is not enough, i'm missing opening night of Crazy, because the symphony is playing our family concert. We are doing PDQ Bach's  Beethoven's fifth - it's a sportscast (you can find on YouTube) funny funny funny. During the cadenza I get to have an altercation with the conductor, and I win, while he gets a 42 bar penalty! 

It always seems like there are so many gigs all at once, and then nothing for months. Next week, between shows for crazy for you shows (5/week for 5 weeks), is the Black & White Ball for the symphony. The chamber orchestra plays big-band, pops, light classical and jazz stuff– I will play oboe and bari sax.

It seems like a lot of stuff going on now, but when I read it down it doesn't look like that much. Guess I'm just tired, it is opening week for two different things after all! And of course I do nothing but play music, the rest my life goes along smoothly and perfectly. 

European tour


Well, I just got back from my tour of Europe with the Cleveland Orchestra! See, there I am, in the back row, on the right...wearing red...
Hahaha-- yes I'm there but as a guest, it was really fun and I had an amazing view of the oboe section. It was odd to be behind the orchestra (NOT what I expected) but pretty cool to see the conductor's expressions. That is an amazing group of musicians. 

In my little world, just finished an long run of Les Mis at the community theater, we had our Pictures concert combined with the college orchestra, and I played bach's Wedding Cantata, certainly one of my all time favs! Prior to that was my first experience as the orchestra manager for a production of Rigoletto, which I also played. That is a lot, playing AND taking care of all the details, but what a wonderful experience. I feel like my playing improved hugely during those two weeks- really want to continue that. 

Now looking forward to another performance of Pictures (2nd oboe/EH this time) and Brahms Violin concerto, which has a big oboe solo all violinists are jealous of. Not a lot of Christmas gigs this year, but that is good since January looks busy (5 wks of Crazy for You, Family concert and Black & White Ball). 

I've been making reeds again, seems like the baby excuse is pretty lame when the "baby" is 12! Really hate leaky reeds, trying to become the expert on sides that seal every time. Also have decided response must trump sound, this has been my downfall and I'm not going to stand for it any more. That being said, it's been two weeks since I've touched the oboe (European tour, remember?!) so I'm off to practice. 

It's that time of year again...


I'm feeling bloggy today. Here's what is going on up on Mica Peak musically - I am the contractor for the local opera this year! For the orchestra part at least. This is a new experience for me and I'm kind of intrigued by it! Several people who really never gave me the time of day before are cozying up to me, kinda funny. But I'm so excited to hear how the group I've pulled together will sound, our first rehearsal is next Tuesday. The opera is Rigoletto - and I did hire myself to play! The symphony's summer concerts are going really well, nothing big for me but that is FINE. We are going Pictures at an Exhibition, Candide, Cappriccio Italian and Polovtsian Dances for our season opener, that ought to be good. But wait, there's more! I'm also opening 5 weeks of Les Mis with the local theater. So glad it's an oboe/eh show instead of a 5-6 horn show. I suppose I will have chops of steel by the end of October, and I will need them because... In November I'm playing the wedding cantata! This is an endless stream of beautiful oboe-ness (as so many Bach arias are!) but there is not a rest to be seen. I'm pretty excited about this as Bach was my specialty (so to speak) back in the day - and no one does baroque music around here, at least not with me. After all that there is a short break before our symphony christmas concert (Brahms Violin Concerto - also known as Brahms secret oboe concerto). But during that break I'm touring Europe with the Cleveland Orchestra! Yeah, ok - they didn't exactly hire me...but I'll be hobnobbing with the elite! Does that seem like enough stuff? I guess I should mention I've been making reeds again, my source has kind of dried up and it seems like my nearly 12 yo is not the excuse he was 12 years ago! Extremely happy with my eh reeds - but I'm looking for fun varigated thread. I'm tired of boring one-color thread. Someone gave me this great blue vari and I want more - hate the multi color stuff though - too much. I like the more subtle change of color. Isn't reed making fun?



There is something pretty magical about playing a world premier. No audience has ever judged the music, each part is created by the performers around you, with no looming prior performance by John Mack ( or pick your favorite musician) to make THIS first playing of the piece less.

Our jazz piano concerto (which our little symphony commissioned!) was amazing last night- not perfect playing (except perhaps by the soloist/composer Brent Edstrom), but thoroughly appreciated by the audience. What a great experience.

The Beethoven 3 was certainly the best we'd ever played it, so wish we could afford at least one rehearsal in the concert hall! It sounds very different in there. But we pulled it off, and my idea to dedicate the Heroic Symphony to our local heroes was inspired and tragic, as just yesterday a planeful of our local servicemen exploded over Afghanistan. The tribute to those heroes and the ones at the concert was very moving, one of our violinists spoke in his full army dress uniform, don't guys always look amazing in uniform?

Today my son and dh are coming, D will usher for the first time and to mark the occasion he decided he needed new pants! This is amazing since he refuses to wear anything but sweats normally. But even more thrilling is that when I was debating how to shop for pants in my insane schedule, dh volunteered to go to the MALL (synonymous with hell for him). But pants have been procured and the show will go on--

Concert Attendance


I am feeling really bummed that I can't seem to give away tickets to our final symphony concert. Seems that this time of year is difficult, but it is our season finale! Since I have taken on the uneviable position of Public Relations Chair (volunteer position, mind you) in addition to the Graphic Design position (also volunteer) and Multi-media...person (again, volunteer) I have been bustin my (*&#$(* trying to get the word out about concerts and events. I don't think I do a bad job. Here is the cover of our brochure for next year(image) I thought this was fun since we are doing Pictures at an Exhibition next year... Maybe I'm just doing too much. No one seems to care if our little symphony continues or not, and I do get that this isn't saving the world or anything. I just want to play and have other people be on the board, take care of details like ticket sales and marketing. But there is no one. Literally no one. Maybe this means this group should die (like so many others) and I should get on with my life. I do have other things I could be doing! I'm thinking I will resign at least two positions at the next board meeting and see what happens.

Passing the torch


Hey this is my first blog using the iPhone! I know it's been a long time but at least I can try to keep up if it's on the phone.
D had his first band concert, Which was a big event in my life too. As you can see he's playing the bassoon which was certainly not my choice! He loves it and I'm so proud.
In symphony we just finished our young artist concert which went very well, I had several exposed moments but nothing huge. For our finale concert in May, I have Beethoven three, otherwise known as the oboe I'm not feeling too left out!
We had a band concert last week also, I was playing bass clarinet for this. Really fun to play all that low stuff, as long as you have the right reed! I'm also in the middle of the Drowsy Chaperone, a musical that is very hilarious. Playing bass clarinet, B-flat clarinet, and Bari sax, super fun music-20s style jazzy.
Looking forward to a little respite from the insanity, the show closes next week and I can't wait! We will be playing for Easter at church, I'll be doing euphonium again which should be amusing. Also appears I will be doing a stint on that recorder, an instrument I never expected to get paid to play. Funny I never realized the alto recorder has the same fingerings as the lower register of the B-flat clarinet. Hopefully this will make it easy for me, but I am not very good on the clarinet either.



So my browser is not supported by Blogger - but the computer I'm using won't support the newer browsers! Jim would say this is the conspiracy to force us to buy new equipment, and I suppose that is true, but I just want things to work! Just finished playing the Producers - what a fun show. I played books 4 & 5, mostly bari sax. Honk honk honk, what a fun change from the oboe! Not that the oboe isn't fun too... I played for Carmen in September this year, the orchestra wasn't as strong as it has been in years past and we lost 2 rehearsals (budget cuts), but it was still great to play. So intense to play an opera - different from anything else. I love the chance to play this fabulous music, even though Carmen isn't the biggest oboe book. The Little Orchestra moved to new digs this year - we are in a smaller venue (400 seats) so we will have two performances instead of one. Everyone seems to like the idea, and we have a matinee now which I think is a nice option for some, especially in the winter months. Our first concert was a "Scottish" theme, although no scots were represented! Mend Scottish Symphony and Hebrides, then the Bruch Scottish Fantasy. I biffed the solo but only after the other winds came in, you can't hear it on the cd. So frustrating to finally get the chance to play that piece after millions of auditions playing the excerpt. But it's hard! Oh well, overall the concert was great, we sounded the best we ever had. The hall is terrific and the people seem extremely accomodating - sort of the opposite of the treatment we've been getting at the larger hall. Can't wait to play there more! Right now we are on a little break, but will be starting up White Christmas (my third production) in a week. LOTS of services, not a difficult book. I'm really looking forward to playing Amahl again, this time with my little orchestra in the cool new venue. Kind of worrisome to have all the singing/dancing but I think audiences will like it. It is too bad that most of the orchestra has time off until March though... Hoping to start a saxophone quartet - seems like there is more interest in that direction than woodwind groups (yeah, I know saxophones are wws). Would really like to find other people who can rehearse in the day, since my nights are completely booked. May even update my blog if I get something going!

Producing a Nightmare maybe?


OMG Can't believe it has been 8 months since I posted! I keep hoping the crazyness will subside but still waiting... Since this is my music post I will update - played Annie for the first time last spring, 5 weeks of "tomorrow" every night! Also did Les Mis at a local HS for 2 weeks, and in July I had my Euphonium time! We usually play in a teeny parade with another couple every July, we ride in the back of a pickup and it's usually 5-6 players. This year we had accordian, tuba, cornet, clarinet, euphonium and electric guitar! My baby played "percussion", mostly cowbell, and threw candy. Fun times indeed. I was feeling so good about my not too horrible rendition of Stars & Stripes that I agreed to go to the NW tubafest thing, which was the following weekend. Really fun and I didn't embarrass myself playing, although the concert was insanely hot (outdoors in a metal box). Then the next weekend they had the brass quartet play at church. This is more brass playing than I usually do in years! That being said, I didn't have much going on oboe-wise this summer, but we've been super busy. And orchestra has started up with our summer gigs (one more on Labor Day) - and I'm playing the Producers for 5 weeks, and two performances of Carmen (SOOO excited for that). It's going to be a busy fall, and there are many non-musical things going on right now, so who knows when I'll post again. This is turning into a report of my gigs, which was not my intention!

Christmas lull


Finally here, the Christmas lull! Every year it seems like I have this insane couple of weeks in early December, then nothing. Which is ok! And I have filled the musical lull with LOTS of other stuff, like gift shopping and parties and even a concert I'm NOT playing.

The overview since last blog, I played for the local colleged in their Pictures at an Exhibition on English horn, so fun to just sit there through the crazy chicken dance and out-of-control children (oboists know what I'm talking about!); just some purty stuff here and there. The orchestra did another Messiah this year, and then our christmas concert with a world premier of my friend WBs American Carols - 13 mvts for orchestra nd chorus. Some nice moments for the oboe but nothing huge. Also did 8 mvts of Nutcracker, way underrehearsed but fun since I never get to play those. I feel kind of sorry for my friends in the big symphony who play it so many times they just hate it.

For Christmas eve J and I are playing a duet - trumpet and clarinet(!) and it's kinda jazzy! Should be fun. Also some descanty bits for the hymns and a couple oboe arrangements of carols. AND I'm so excited to be playing in the bell choir, great to not be in charge.

In January I'll be judging for the concerto competition, always stressful but I really enjoy being involved. Later that month we have the symphony ball, hopefully I will get to play some bari sax on that, but then I'd have to lug that thing around which is a pain. I do love getting to play though!

English horn


So, why do I even bother playing the oboe??? If I play 3 bars of EH, and 3 hours on the oboe, people flock around and rhapsodize about my EH playing! Which is great, and I love it too. But it makes me feel really insecure about my oboe playing. Gurk.

Right now I'm doing Beauty and the Beast for the 3rd production, this is my first time being the only wind player. Literally - there is keyboard (poor woman!) bass and percussion. And me. I suppose I could have played some clarinet, but I'm just playing it all on oboe/eh. Mostly playing books 1 (flute) and 2 (the actual oboe book), but also lots of trumpet, clarinet and violin stuff. Just trying to help out the keyboard whenever I can. I am not really enjoying it, so stressful! The pretty stuff is usurped by the necessary parts, so I'm leaving a lot of my favorite lines out. Oh well, getting the big $$...

After this show I have an actual break though, SO looking forward to it although I have the freelancer's fear of never working again. But I know there will be a rush before Christmas, and they've asked me to play Annie (no oboe, eek!) in May.

BTW, Jane Eyre was quite fun, lot of playing (we did it inconcert) but nice melodies, great cast. And FULL orchestra. Sometimes I get annoyed when the flute or trumpet is doubling my line, but after this fiasco of playing EVERYTHING alone I will strive to be more grateful to my fellow musicians! Of course there are shows that one wind is plenty, but B+tB is so grandiose in places - one little oboe sounds pretty thin.

Go Cougs!



Here I am in the alumni band - holy cow! It's been far too long according to my sore body - but lots of fun. Seems so long ago now, a whole week past! Finally done with Millie - I notice my last post I had just finished with Full Monty. It has been a while!

I played Faust with CDA Opera, truly a wonderful musical experience, played with top notch musicians. Glorious oboe bits all through, but especially at the end when Margaurete ascends to heaven and the oboe resolves the huge chords over the entire ensemble. Chills!

Then I played with the local college on the Ravel Piano Concerto - HUGE English horn solo in the fancy theater! It was fun but I felt so insanely busy at the time, wish I could have enjoyed it more. My favorite part was the next day I went to coffee with my neighbors who happened to go to the concert, and they said - why did you stand up at the end? (!) I guess they didn't notice the nearly 3 minutes of EH solo in there - perhaps they dozed off? hehehe

Our little orchestra had the season opener - Beethoven 7 (which starts with a fabulous oboe solo of course), Fingal's Cave and Mozart Double Piano. The Mozart was really lovely, and the new 2nd oboe really did an amazing job! She plays so in tune with me, and we had all those neat Mozarty harmonies together - it was just a great experience. I think the whole concert was some of the best playing this orchestra has ever done. Unfortunatly only 350 people came to the concert. It is really a shame.

All through this was Thoroughly Modern Millie - I split the show with the 2nd oboist (SS) who plays all the saxes and flute extremely well, I think her clarinet playing is about on par with mine though! Millie had oboe/clarinet/tenor/bari (SS played flute as well) and just carting all that to the theater is a workout! The music was really fun, sort of 20s jazzy stuff but way hard for my limited saxophone chops. About 5 minutes into the first rehearsal I realized my ancient Conn Bari was just not going to be able to move around that fast - also it didn't have a low A which is called for quite a bit in newer shows. So I went out and bought my midlife crisis item - a BRAND NEW bari sax. It is beautiful, plays great - the action is so smooth I can actually play faster on it than the tenor! And it is super fun to play the low A, which shakes the ground.

Yesterday was the closing matinee for Millie, and we started rehearsal for Jane Eyre! REALLY poor timing, but it is a benefit and will only run this week. And I'm only playing oboe/English horn, which will be a nice change. The music is great, lots of nice oboe bits, and the singers are really fantastic. Lots of fun belting about how hard life is...could you fit more angst into a story? So that wraps up Saturday night and then D will have his birthday party on Sunday! And Saturday afternoon we start rehearsing for Beauty and the Beast. I'm so wiped out I can't think straight. Oh well, gotta take the gigs when they come right?



Can't believe it has been almost a month since I posted - but Full Monty is finally over! I'm kinda sad, the best shows are still fun to play after a few weeks, but it's always nice to get the evenings back. This week has been filled with non-musical stuff, although today I played oboe and RECORDER in church! Hehe, guess now that I'm a pro (played 4 bars in Full Monty) I can play recorder everywhere.

We are actually getting a group (consort) together just for fun, maybe to play in church sometime, but I'm excited to play the tenor and maybe get the alto (pitches are transposed so it's harder) up to speed. Soprano and tenor are really similar fingerings to oboe, so I'm pretty good considering. Fun times.

Our next musical endeavor is playing for the LC Parade on the 4th - I will play euphonium and J plays cornet, the neighbors (Ks) are coming too and will play tpt and cowbell. Hehehe. H & L , the masterminds who actually have a cabin in LC (pop. 150), will play some sort of tuba thing (opheclide, serpent, something low and nasty!) and accordian. Our baby will throw candy and possibly some percussiony thing, we'll see. We all sit in back of a pickup and go about 4 blocks (the whole town) and then we go back since the parade is so short. It is super fun, and pretty much everyone in town is on a "float" or horse or something.

Things are Full... Monty that is


Full Monty is going well - at least it was before I left last Friday! Sub for two days, and we had Sunday off. It is a fun show, sort of R&B (according to my hubby) and I'm having a great time playing bari sax (in addition to tenor and oboe with occasional recorder moments).

Playing bells (!) in church Sunday, will also do some oboe stuff since I'll be there. Also volunteering to play EH (and oboe) on the Franck dm with the community college orchestra. Once Monty is over, I don't have any music scheduled for the summer til the end of July. Maybe something will come up.

Oboe still waiting for repair/overhaul - Carlos (the super oboe repair guy) is difficult to pin down! I was told to call back in July. *sigh* so I'm using the Laubin, which just doesn't feel right to me - glad I have it in reserve though!

The crash and burn


Ack! Yesterday was one of the most stressful oboe days I've had! Started with an early morning rehearsal for Full Monty (bari, tenor, oboe, recorders) - but not before I had to drop off my extremely reluctant son at soccer pictures (daddy would be coming for the game later). Happy times!So I get to rehearsal -it was the sitzprobe (first time w/singers) and LOTS of sound issues - mics and monitors a big nightmare. And I even figured out how to get our lights on (my tiny victory). In all the mayhem, I was getting my big old saxes out, and I put my oboe on the stand...but then I watched it in SLLLLOOOOWWW MOOOOTIONNNNN drop to the ground. This was kinda shocking, cuz all around me people were so busy and life was going on as usual. The other wind player (M) was freaking out with me though, and I picked it up and it looked ok, and it still sealed, so I tried a note. OK!Great, I thought. Then I tried another note. Nothin. The second key wasn't going down. Huh. Surely I could fix this, just seconds ago it was fine! But after some furious fiddling around I had to give up (I'm in a dark pit remember, and our rehearsal was starting right then. So I put the oboe away and tried to focus on the other stuff. Mostly I play bari in this musical, so there wasn't much to cover. Since my repair guy doesn't work weekends I called my mentor oboe godling, and he left his son's soccer game (see how soccer has invaded my life?) to help me out. We messed around with the oboe for over an hour, tweeking springs and checking binding keys but finally figuring it must be a bumper pad that fell off. This is the tiniest piece of cork acting as a spacer. So we put a piece of cork in and it seemed ok. G had no contact cement but we had some at home so I left (gratefully!)J glued the cork and I started adjusting, when another cork fell off! This is a sign, I thought - been meaning to send my oboe off for an overhaul with the fabulous Carlos for a while now. But of course I had the big Scherazade concert last night which I REALLY wanted to play on the Loree. I am fortunate to have another pro oboe (Laubin) but I hadn't been playing it and the keys are situated a bit differently and the pitch is different. So we glued the other cork on and I adjusted - and the Loree seemed ok. But I was bringing my Laubin just in case!At the concert I warm up both horns, find the reed I like and so on. Everything seem ok - so I play Afternoon of a Faun on Loree. It is fine. We all have to move (which we HATE) for the Haydn Farewell, and since we leave the stage I will have to gracefully try to leave with both oboes and my swab (since I'm having major water in the keys on Mr. Loree). I consider switching to the Laubin just to let Mr Loree dry out a bit before Scheherazade, but I just swab a lot and keep playing. The Haydn is a huge hit with the audience and we are at intermission. We all go back out and resituate (my third seat of the evening!). We start and in the first solo (of many many) the second key is wonking out again. I decide I must switch right then so I can be ready for the big solo in mvt 2. This is ok, but then my reed up and DIES right then, so I have to hope something in the box works without really trying it (although I had played them at home earlier). Very stressful. Reed a bit stiffer but sounds nice, but my chops are so tired, probably from stress more than effort, although this is a BIG piece with endless playing. Crazy day, but I don'[...]

May Day


Today is the first day in weeks that is has NOT (so far) snowed! Happy May Day!

Giggage has been good - the Beethoven trio concert was fun, and I think I played the EH part well. I thought it was going to be after an intermission though, but the "intermission" was a sermon (this concert was at a church)! So instead of getting a few moments to honk on the EH I started cold (as did the 2nd oboe), we didn't even tune (1st oboist said no). Huh. Ah well, the delights of live performance.

Fiddler was fun - such a great show. This was a HS production and the kids really did a great job. Orchestra has started rehearsals for our season finale - Scherezade is just as scary as expected! But it is coming together and I'm sure it will be great in 2 weeks. The Afternoon of a Faun (NOT Fawn as listed on our stupid website) which I thought would be a breeze is actually really hard to put together - all that rubato I guess. DD is conducting in big beats instead of subdividing and I think that really threw the flutes off, but they were getting it by the end. I am concerned that we may never practice the Haydn farewell symphony - it is straightforward but I'd like to play though it!

Yesterday the ww quartet (our hornist is on leave til summer) played for the symphony wine club tasting - at a really lovely venue called the white house. Hope we get to play there again sometime. We were mainly background music, but it was very nice and I think we played well. Our flutist forgot her stand - she had her music on a chair which was less than optimal, then I offered to share stands - not ideal since we had lots of music and some complicated page turns. We had asked all the symphony volunteers if they had stands in their cars or were close enough to get one from home. The venue owner had a podium but it was too flat and too high (funny how specialized music stands are!). The flute player was making do but you could tell she was frustrated - when 2 minutes before we were to start my husband swoops in with a music stand he had rented from the tiny music store down the street! It had never occured to us to check, I thought he was quite brilliant to just go off by himself and even ask to rent such a thing! Saved the day.

So this week we start rehearsals for Full Monty - I'm playing bari sax (main) tenor, subbing oboe for flute, and alto recorder. Thanks to Grama Ruth for giving me that particular beast years ago, I've never used it til now! I'm interested in how the bari stuff goes - this part is written for a low A bari, and of course my old bari only goes to Bb. I found this great plumbing fixture (at Lowes!) that fits right in the bell to drop my Bb's to As, which means I can't play Bb's then, but we'll see if it works. I've had two offers from people with low A baris if I want to use them, but I'd like to use my own if possible.