Woodwind doubling recital program, Northwestern University, 1950

A new Internet friend shared this gem with me (click for slightly larger):

Read more

New sound clips: Faculty woodwinds recital, Aug. 31, 2010

Backstage with my instruments and a space heater. Only one of us enjoys the recital hall’s powerful air conditioning.

I’m pleased to share some audio clips from my recent faculty recital at Delta State University.

It was the first evening concert of the new semester, so a nice crowd of students came to start accumulating their recital attendance points, as well as colleagues, friends, and community members. No one seemed daunted by the prospect of a solid hour of Debussy.

I enjoyed playing the flute Syrinx, clarinet Première Rapsodie, and saxophone Rapsodie, all of which I had studied in school but never performed publicly. The brief and charming clarinet Petite Pièce was new to me, and seemed to be a crowd favorite. I rounded out the recital with some of Debussy’s piano works, arranged for oboe and piano and for bassoon and piano. It works well for me to play all of the reed instruments on a recital, because that gives all my reed-playing students something to sink their teeth into, and the fabulous Dr. Shelley Collins was very gracious about me playing a flute piece on her turf. You can read my program notes here.

Having learned a couple of things from the last recital, I warmed up a little more extensively this time, and also brought in a space heater to keep my instruments warm backstage in the icy air conditioning. Both of these things seemed to help make the evening go more smoothly. One new experiment for me was the use of a bassoon harness, so I played that instrument standing up for the first time in public.

Here are the clips:

Read more

Faculty woodwinds recital, Aug. 31, 2010

Bret Pimentel, woodwinds
Kumiko Shimizu, piano

Faculty Recital
Delta State University Department of Music
Recital Hall, Bologna Performing Arts Center
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
7:30 PM


Syrinx (La flûte de Pan)
Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)

Claude Debussy
ed. Rousseau

Petite Pièce
Claude Debussy

Two pieces
Claude Debussy
arr. Jolles/Lucarelli

  1. Reverie
  2. Menuet (from Suite Bergamasque)

from Children’s Corner
Claude Debussy
arr. Prorvich

  1. Jimbo’s Lullaby
  2. The Little Shepherd
  3. Golliwogg’s Cakewalk

Première Rapsodie
Claude Debussy

Read more

A few woodwind blogs you should be reading

Photo, alcomm

If you’re a woodwind player and avid blog reader, you’re likely already following some prominent and popular bloggers like oboist Patty Mitchell (oboeinsight), flutist Jennifer Cluff, and clarinetists David Thomas (The Buzzing Reed) and Marion Harrington.

I read and enjoy all of these, but I would also like to suggest a few others that are particular favorites of mine. These are ones that I think have a somewhat smaller readership, although there’s not a good way to know that without asking nosy questions. So I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that some of these may be new to you. Check them out, and let us know in the comments what else you’re reading.

Also, read to the bottom for a couple of tips on reading blogs like you know what you’re doing.

In no particular order…

Read more

Required recordings, fall 2010

A new semester is starting, and my university students have new required recordings.

There are a number of criteria that go into these selections, but I mentioned one in particular back in the spring:

So far my two-semester tally, selecting recordings for four different instruments, is six white men and two white women. I’d like to improve on that in the future, though I do think that, ultimately, what comes through the earphones is more central to this project than the colors or genders represented on the CD covers.

I think I did manage to pick out two this semester that add a little diversity, and certainly without compromising one bit on quality: my oboe students are getting a fine recording by Brazilian oboist Alex Klein, and the saxophonists will be enjoying a new release by African-American saxophonist (and one of my teachers) Otis Murphy. On the other hand, I did end up with all men this time around.

One other victory this semester is that all these recordings are available for download on iTunes. I still like having the CD myself, but iTunes is a convenient and, more importantly, economical option for my students.

Here are the selections:

Oboe: Alex Klein, Oboe Concertos of the Classical Era

Find it on: iTunes | Amazon

Repertoire: Krommer Concertos, Hummel Introduction, Theme, and Variations

Read more

Oboist on the Supreme Court? part III

Elena Kagan
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan: Not, as far as we know, a woodwind player.

Well, it looks like we’re going to have to wait a while longer for a woodwind player on the US’s highest court. Oboist Diane Wood, previously a candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy, has been passed over in favor of newly-confirmed Elena Kagan. I’m sure that, despite her presumably total inability to play the oboe, she will serve her nation well.

Information overload: oboe F fingerings

First and second octave F on the oboe
First and second octave F on the oboe

The oboe typically plays Fs in three octaves. The lower two have a variety of available fingerings, which can be a challenge for new oboists to navigate, particularly because the available fingerings change depending upon the make of the instrument.

A typical “budget” student model instrument, for example, uses the following fingerings. (For all fingerings given in this article, the one shown corresponds to the lower octave; the higher octave is achieved by adding the first [thumb] octave key.)

Basic "right" F
Basic "right" F
"Forked" F, with E-flat key
"Forked" F, with E-flat key

The “right” F is the basic choice, to be used in almost all cases where it is possible to do so, as the tone produced by this fingering tends to be the best match to the tone of the surrounding notes.

The “forked” F tends toward a sound that might be described as “muted” or sometimes even “fuzzy,” and should therefore generally be avoided where possible (unless the muted or fuzzy sound is desirable for the musical situation—I do like to use the forked F, for example, in the beginning and ending sections of the second movement of the Saint-Saëns sonata).

Read more

Oboist on the Supreme Court? part II

I posted last week about Diane Wood, the federal judge and oboist who is a candidate to fill a soon-to-be vacant seat on the US Supreme Court. (Unsurprisingly, Patty Mitchell, prolific blogger and online curator of all things oboe-related, also picked up the story.)

Yesterday the LA Times ran an op-ed by Meghan Daum, herself a recovering oboe player, entitled “The Supreme Court could use an oboist.” Here are the good parts:

The oboe isn’t just an instrument; it’s a way of life. … Playing the oboe means living your life entirely at the mercy of tiny wooden double reeds that crack at inopportune moments (weirder and more awful yet, you’re supposed to make them yourself as though you were a 19th century artisan). It also means blowing so hard into them that you risk a brain aneurysm every time you try to hit a high D. It also means you’re a huge nerd.

Read more

Oboist on the Supreme Court?

Judge Diane Wood, oboist
Judge Diane Wood, oboist

Federal judge and oboist Diane Wood is reportedly under consideration to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.

Wood has demonstrated a willingness to challenge her fellow jurists without offending, say lawyers and clerks who have observed her in court. Those attributes may be an asset as President Barack Obama considers her to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on an often-divided U.S. Supreme Court…

Wood, 59, who plays oboe in the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra, was one of four people interviewed by Obama last year before he picked Sotomayor.

You can read the whole article at businessweek.com.

Read more

New sound clips: Faculty woodwinds recital, Feb. 15, 2010

Below are a few audio clips from my recent faculty woodwinds recital at Delta State University.

At this point it’s gotten hard for me to imagine doing a full recital on a single instrument. I enjoy getting to play several, and audiences seem to enjoy the variety. And since this was my first faculty recital at my new gig, I wanted each of my students to hear me perform something from the core repertoire of their instrument.

I would like, ultimately, to be able to put together a full recital of woodwind pieces without making any special concessions for the fact that I am playing multiple instruments. In this case I did play it a little on the safe side: I chose a program that was not overwhelmingly technical, and I programmed something short of an hour’s worth of music so that I could take a few extra minutes between pieces.

One note-to-self for next time: I experienced a few onstage symptoms of not being thoroughly warmed up on each instrument (water in oboe toneholes, low note response issues on bassoon). I purposefully avoided playing too much on the day of the recital, but I think I can find a better balance the next time around.

Read more