viola jokes, ftw

I’m a big fan of viola jokes. I don’t find them in the least bit offensive. Why? They’re mostly made up by violists, for one. They’re also based in a rather checkered early history of the instrument and its proponents. They have a basic sense of truth to them, and they’re also not at all mean-spirited. What I do find offensive are people who are very offended in a ‘holier-than-thou’ way by viola jokes. Please grow a sense of humor! Or not, you can do as you like.

Anyway, I digress. We just got done with two performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, and whichever wag was on the front stand of the orchestra that used the rental parts before we got them had a healthy sense of violist humor:


It’s a visual joke akin to the famous viola joke when the violist asks the pianist how she learned to trill so quickly. The pianist replies that she didn’t understand what the violist is talking about. The violist sings the opening to Für Elise. *rim shot*

home stretch

It seems almost as though I posted this entry yesterday instead of last August, but here it is, just past the first week of May, and there are just over two weeks left in the Oregon Symphony’s 2015-2016 season. It’s a pretty cool final month, too. We just finished playing two concerts of the film music of John Williams, the soundtrack to Back to the Future (with the film), and we’re about to play our penultimate classical series concert of the season this coming weekend, which features three fantastic pieces: Schumann’s Overture to Genoveva, Hindemith’s Symphony Mathis der Maler, and Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto (with Garrick Olhsson). The following weekend, we close out our classical season with Gustav Mahler’s massive Symphony No. 3.

The end of this season will make 21 years so far with the Oregon Symphony for me. In some ways, things have never been better. In others, they’ve never been worse. We’ll see what the next season brings.


Are you ready for mahler 5?

I love Mahler. Like Strauss, it’s the kind of music that the modern string player (or any instrumentalist in a symphony orchestra, for that matter) has trained for their entire life. The technical and musical demands are many, especially in this – perhaps the most popular – wonderfully complex and exciting symphony, the Fifth. We had our first rehearsals on the piece today, and I’ll fill you in on my thoughts as the week goes on. For now, here’s a nice way to study up on the symphony before the concerts arrive – there is a streaming performance (one of the best available, imho) of Claudio Abbado conducting the Lucerne Festival Orchestra (essentially an all-star orchestra of the best players in Europe) that is available for free to Amazon Prime members. So, put that $80/year to good use and get yourself some fine culture!

Here’s the link, and below is a trailer from YouTube of the performance video.