post-season thoughts

Oregon Symphony | Photo: © Charles Noble
Oregon Symphony

I was musing over this past weekend’s performances of Mahler’s Third, and there were quite a few remarkable things/moments that came up – so I thought I’d share them here. In no particular order:

  • James Shields (principal clarinet) has the most amazing clarinet sound I’ve ever heard.
  • Martha Long’s (principal flute) subito pianissimo in the final adagio: breathtaking!
  • Mark Dubac (E-flat clarinet) playing as klezmer an un-klezmer solo as you can without going over the line. Well done, my friend!
  • Sarah Kwak’s (concertmaster) solos – the perfect sound for Mahler.
  • The entire double bass section for their frenzied passage in the first movement – it was like a seismic event!
  • Robert Taylor (acting principal trombone) played his huge solos with such grace and power.
  • The entire low brass section played with such power and precision. What an amazing group you are!
  • Chris Whyte for his huge final cymbal crash – you’ve got cahones!
  • Timpanists Sergio Careno and Jon Greeney – epic synchronized swimming at the close of the last Adagio.
  • Michael Roberts on the bass drum – such a beautiful touch!
  • The entire string section for that hushed beginning to the final adagio – what an honor it is to play with you all!

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.