I didn’t know it at the time, but Dennis Godburn entered my life one day a little more than three decades ago when I got the mail at our house in Brookline MA. Inside a plain white envelope was a mysterious dot-matrix computer print-out on striped paper with perforated edges, and the meticulously-crafted graphic message said “You are hereby designated to represent your sector at the first annual PAN-AMERICAN CONGRESS OF SHAWMS” followed by instructions to go to the crypt of the St John the Divine cathedral at a certain time and a dark caveat: “Rauschpfeifes will NOT be admitted.” Continue reading 'RIP, Denny'»
Toward a tuning strategy for large Baroque ensembles
so we were rehearsing “Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft” (BWV 50) in Boston this week. This is a single-movement cantata which is probably not by Bach but is nonetheless spectacular, with chorus, strings, three oboes, three trumpets, and timps all blazing away in a stentorian fugue punctuated with fanfare-like outbursts. It starts out in D major but doesn’t stay there long, migrating at various times to E major, F# minor and major, B major and major, and C# major. The weather is changing every day, and as one might expect the tuning got a little suspect, especially in those remote keys. We worked on some of the most offending passages with varying degrees of success; and one point somebody asked about the temperament and somebody else said “it’s Vallotti” as though that solved everything. It might have been my imagination, but it seemed to sound even worse after that. Continue reading 'A modest proposal'»
I had the pleasure last night of participating in a production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte staged by the Commonwealth Opera at the venerable Academy of Music in Northampton MA, where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor used to go to movies while filming Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff. The brains behind Commonwealth is the father-daughter team Joseph and Eve Summer; Joe is an opera composer, a talented impresario and, it turns out, a fellow Oberlin alum, and Eve is a free-lance stage director bringing her considerable skills in deft spoken-theater direction to the world of opera. I had a great seat in the pit, could see and hear everything (while the oboes weren’t busy), and must say that this production was AMAZING–brilliantly staged, beautifully sung and acted, touching, intimate, and hilarious.
in North Carolina this week. What a great bunch of colleagues!
It seems that no matter what, the oboists are always a bit out of the loop. That’s why we tend to organize things, so we know what’s going on. Or?
Grandkids were over, the grass was long, I was getting out the Toro. One of the kids said “can I try it” and with some trepidation off we went. Each kid brought his or her own personality to the task. Kevin ran after it, Kat was determined to drive it straight, Samantha displayed her customary sprezzatura and Greet just had a blast.