IDRS Conference 2014 - Thanks for the Memory

Inspiring music, good food, great conversations with friends old and new!
I loved our exhibit space, so bright and comfortable, so social and inviting!

EVERYTHING was on SALE at the Double Reed Shop
Real bargains on Music, cane, supplies, miscellaneous stuff!

The Sale Continues so see the Music Sale Page for details and lists.

Oh yes, did you come by and participate in our special drawings?

My humble impressions of the week -- IDRS 2014!
In answer to a few of you who have asked if I am going to offer a bit of writing this year as in 2012.

My congratulations to Matt Sullivan and his wonderful staff for presenting us with a great Conference.  It was a very different Conference from most just, by being in the middle of such a great and big City.  Housing, food, and other distractions were abundant!  From my vantage point any little glitches were not over sight omissions on the part of the Steinhardt staff.  We all must realize that wanting perfection goes with the job of being an oboist or a bassoonist.  It is often difficult for us to differentiate between times where little imperfections are part of the territory.  I am learning to mellow a bit in my old age.  A special thanks to Kaitlyn Walker.  In one of my several conversations with her in planning my NY trip she mentioned that playing the Poulenc Sonata for the Oboe was easy next to Coordinating a Conference for IDRS!  Yes, Kaitlyn, a totally different set of skills, which you handled brilliantly!

My greatest joys of the week were reconnecting with former students and long time friends. 
Especially rewarding was hearing a Master Class taught so well by a former student.   And another special connection with a former DRCamper from those wonderful Michigan years makes the efforts of twenty years of DRCamp worth while.  It is satisfying at my advancing age to know the legacy is living on in some small way.

My regret of the week was that I did not have enough energy for any of the after hours jazz venues which I would have enjoyed.
My apologies to Michael Rabinowitz for not my taking advantage of the great opportunities all over town that week!  Old age catching up!

Of course being on the exhibit floor this year limited my listening.  Hearing all of the warm up artistry and oboe testing does not count!  I did enjoy the evening programs, a variety of music, old and new, some new faces on stage, and a wonderful chance to hear the prestigious double reed sections of several of our East Coast Orchestras.  I know for most of them it was necessary to modify summer family vacation, teaching, festival and travel plans.  It was appreciated guys and gals of Philly, NY, West Point, etc.  A special appreciation to the members of the St. Lukes Orchestra and the West Point Band who obviously took their accompanying tasks seriously because they prepared and performed beautiful both standard rep and some very difficult recently written music. Bravo!  Bravo!!

One of the wonderful surprises musically was the Bach Concert late on Thursday afternoon.  With an all-star cast on stage the concert was truly a celebration and an honor.  Allan Vogel's playing of Bach was just stunning, such a treat!  Then we heard Baroque oboe played like what must have inspired Bach to write all those beautiful Arias.  Happy Birthday Wm. Scheide, and thanks for sharing the time!

I came away from New York with concerns about this so called  "American oboe tone".  This was a handle given in several conversations that week.  I readily admit that I AM old fashioned and definitely of a former generation of oboists.  I developed my concept of oboe tone through years of teaching, judging young oboists, and participating in most of the 29 years of Master Classes with John Mack at Wildacres.  Especially in judging I had to accept that a good tone was based on what it could or could not do more than was it just pleasing to listen to.  My criteria for acceptable tone became  1) similar in all ranges, no notes sticking out and announcing 'I am a G and I am just bright and sharp so accept me as I am'!  2) all notes have the ability to be played in tune,  3) possibility of a full range of dynamics throughout the range,  4) possibility of a range of color and expressiveness appropriate to communicate a musical idea to an audience.  I gave many "qualified" First Divisions by telling the student their rating is based on musicianship, preparedness and a range between G and g.  To succeed at State level please work to match the low notes and the higher register to what you are doing in the middle register -- and here is my suggestion for doing so………  I heard some of them again at State Level Contest, some worked on it, some did not. Ratings told the story.  I also remember clearly a comment made by Mr. Mack after one of my Camp performances -- "Your tone sounds incomplete in the upper register".  It took me a bit to chew on that one, but I finally figured it out.  This is the ability to make the tone spin around the room, turn inside out, whisper but be present in the back row, shout without peeling paint off the wall, to make your audience cry or laugh or become contemplative as the music demands.  For me it came in the reeds and in the gouge.

I am feeling that this so called new "American Oboe Sound" has placed the focus on being perfect even if it means limiting your range of expression so as not to let it get away from you, ever.  And the focus has shifted from the expressiveness of the music to the execution of technical virtuosity.  Wow, the fingers!  I am hearing things today that I could not have attempted, even in the days when my hands did pretty well at getting around the oboe (they do not cooperate at all now days!).   I hear too much of "this is MY tone", isn't it pretty.   I am missing what I heard and learned from John Mack, and what he learned from Marcel Tabuteau -- that tone which is "complete" in all registers and all dynamic levels and has many colors to express many musical ideas.  We have definitely in the last few years raised the bar in technical demands and in intonation, but have we sacrificed an expressive tone? 

Perhaps have I become more critical in my listening to music, even as I am no longer able to put myself in the position to be critiqued!  Watch out!  An electronic tone can be perfect, but not yet has it learned to be expressive or colored with presence!


IDRS Conference 2012

My humble impressions of the week.
Oh, this now seems so…… long……… ago!

 In general

Miami University was a beautiful campus, lovely facilities, good spaces to hear music (mostly!), and Andrea and Chris did a superb job of organizing the week for so many of us -- many of whom tend to act like 'divas', and like myself have difficulty putting aside the 'teacher and critic' that I have been for most of my life. 

I left Vermont on Saturday morning in 58 degrees, arrived in Cincinnati at 111 degrees, 107 by the time I reached Oxford!  Wow!  But we did all survive the heat and the buildings were comfortable.  I also had the most comfortable campus housing in the Heritage Apartments that I have ever had for an IDRS Conference -- much appreciated, both the comfort and the price!  Thank you gals and all of your staff for your endless efforts and time in putting this week together for us!!!

Future IDRS Conferences

A general question of IDRS Conferences:  Is it perhaps time we begin to somewhat limit the number of events that continually over lap one another?  So many great opportunities and always we have to make choices!  Many  conferences solve this by limiting performers to not playing in consecutive years -- this may be a place to begin, and also a chance to include performers who have never before participated.  Food for thought!!  If the board or a committee were to help make these choices we may see better attendance at some outstanding day time programs.

One more general question for future IDRS Conferences:  I have been approached by many of my generation of colleagues who are approaching retirement about the liquidation of equipment and music.  We are perhaps the first generation who 1) have had the equipment and the print music available to aid in our reed making and practice and performance and teaching, and 2) have had jobs which pay enough to afford to buy the equipment available to us.  Now that we think about retirement what do we do with all of this 'stuff'?,  and especially before our children have to dispose of it and have no clue!  My proposal is a separate display/sales room for an attic sale, tag sale, yard or garage sale, where ever and however in the world you call it!  Make your 'stuff' available to people wanting to buy used equipment.  There are many details to solve, shortened hours, fee or commission to IDRS, etc. etc.  It would be YOU selling your own stuff, no middle person doing the work and collecting the money!  IF you support this concept, and especially IF you would be interested in participating, drop me a note, or let a board member know.  We (and I) will work on it!

Performances and Music - just a few that really grabbed me!

Dwight Parry, Concerto by Eugene Goossens -- I can't remember ever hearing this with an orchestra, and what a lovely work it is, also played so beautifully by Dwight!  I think often our Midwest regional orchestras and its members don't receive the recognition they deserve.  Dwight, you did your orchestra proud Saturday night!  For ME an outstanding way to begin the week!

Jeff and Frank of the Cleveland Orchestra -- Wow!  Too bad this program was tucked away in the morning with three other good choices at that time period!  These two guys in some ways are such different players individually, yet together they play as if they are joined at the hip!  They are so in complete sync tonally, rhythmically, phrasing, and all ways.  Superb performance!  Good selections also.  I thoroughly enjoyed this entire hour!!  Thanks guys!

The Loren Glickman Ensemble -- another concert tucked away over lapping too many other good programs!  Three superb bassoonists and their own excellent pianist.  Since he began his prolific writing I have felt that Loren's trios and quartets for bassoon ensembles are perhaps some of the first to warrant a position on a serious university faculty chamber music program.  The writing is interesting, all parts equally difficult, not for a Saturday night party after the wine!  And they are published and readily available to all of us -- in the DRShop inventory (published by TrevCo).  Wednesday's program included mostly light and familiar titles, all with hauntingly beautiful melodies. He has arranged more serious selections which I would have liked to hear included.  And Loren, how about a couple of pieces that are just a bit more accessible to bassoonists like myself, definitely intermediate!?  The  bassoon playing was just so beautiful that I wish more people could have enjoyed the program!  Thanks Lisa, Eddie, and Catherine for the program!  You did your teacher proud!

Music for Bassoon and Viola, a wonderful combination, 2 pieces, one classic and one contemporary.  Only those of us who have had the honor of performing with our accomplished children can appreciate the joy this wonderful duo was for Peter and Cara Simpson! Bravo!

The Sundance Trio played one of my favorite Trios for ob-bsn-pi, Suite of Six French Songs by Willard Elliot.  One must take a second look at this piece to realize the craft and imagination of Willard Elliott, they are deceivingly difficult and complex and Very rewarding.  DRShop has them in the catalog.

The young generation of virtuosic players taking over the wind sections of our historically great orchestras were well represented this week!  The guys from Berlin, Christoph Hartmann and Martin Kuuskmann, titled their program appropriately!  'Virtuosity' it was!!!  But it was virtuosity with musicality, a sometimes rare combination today!  Superb program enjoyed by many!  They ended their program by reminding us what an absolutely beautiful and virtuosic piece is the Poulenc Trio!  Thanks guys!

The French guys who played that crazy, fun Bozza duo, Shepherds of Provence, for oboe and English Horn.  Choreography usually does not impress me, but with this piece and such fine playing it all added to an amazing effect -- looked meticulously planned, but I would guess was completely spontaneous.  I am also so happy to have that piece now in print as a separate edition so we don't have to carry around Vade Mecum to access it.  Thanks Trevor.  DRShop has it in the inventory for you!

So many fine new pieces were heard.  Marlen Vavrikova presented three by Petr Eben.  The second two I really liked and plan to add to my inventory.  They definitely show off a virtuoso player, thanks Marlen for introducing the work of Petr Eben.

Michelle Fiala and Martin Schuring also gave us stunning performances of works by Robbie McCarthy and Alyssa Morris, both fun works and serious writing.  Look for those at DRShop also.

The Double or Nothing Ensemble -- the gals who are making some fine oboe and EH and Bassoon reeds for us -- presented a light, Cabaret style program, but so beautifully played!  Lauren arranged most of the music also.  It is good to know we can buy reeds from someone who can also play really well.  They will not starve between the reed business and the Cabaret Ensemble.  Their reeds are also available from

The English Horn has obviously become an instrument of expertise, no longer simply an 'anguish horn' which an oboist has to learn as a double.  I think we owe its respectable status to Tom Stacy and Pat McFarland.  We owe a word of thanks to Carolyn Hove for caring for many of the fine English Horn players heard this week through her generous Master Classes held all over the country.  And we owe thanks to Julie Giacobassi for continuing efforts to expand the literature through Fish Creek Publications. will get you there.  We heard Dark Landscape by Richard Felciano, published by Fish Creek, played by Robyn Costa. will also get you Fish Creek Publications plus an amazing selection of music for EH in solo (150 pieces) and in ensemble (an additional 350 pieces!) -- two full shelves, from about 10 inches of shelf space 30 years ago!  Bravo to the many fine English Horn performances we heard, and to composers who are taking the EH and d'amore seriously.

Over all the programing of the week included a good mix of traditional and standard repertoire, serious new pieces, solo pieces and ensembles, and a heavy dose of 'film music'!  The film industry certainly is well and alive among us!  I left feeling 'enough is enough already'!  Yes, we must meet our students and our audiences where they are, and it is nice to know we are breaking into the jazz and Club scene and supplementing our incomes, etc.  But! when I go to a Conference such as this I really want mostly to hear the serious pieces, especially in prominent programing slots.  The 'film music' needs a glass of wine in hand to spice it up!

I wish I had checked in a bit on the student program, as I am very interested in how that turned out.  I'd love to hear from a few of you students who attended.  And I hope the idea will be repeated and possibly tweaked a bit.  I think it is a great idea to provide a venue for the young people, especially a place for them to stay with some structure and guidance and supervision so they can avail themselves of this great opportunity while leaving their teachers free to do their own thing.  But I do wonder if the 'teaching part' of the experience presented so much diversity that it left them a bit confused.  While there are as many ways to go at the instrument and the music and the reeds as there are players in our business, a young student needs to stay with one basic direction until old enough and mature in their playing to make wise choices and to know why they are choosing their direction.  Just a few questions based upon my 20 years of running a high school Double Reed Camp in Michigan. 

One last visit to my teaching days:  I heard so much emotional playing, but not always musical playing.  I still feel, as I have learned from all of my great teachers, that a musical phrase must sound like a sentence with one verb and one subject.  I hear these days so much finessing of every note that the sentence looses its form and its meaning.  The performance may look lovely on the stage, but when I close my eyes I am not hearing anything that makes musical sense.  I came home from Oxford and opened Barret to the first eight melodies, which reminded me that there are certain grounding principles of building a musical phrase which apply to every kind of music.  Yes, I am old fashioned in my approach to music.  I am also emotional in my playing.  But I do like to think about and plan how I will build the phrase, how it relates to other phrases and other parts of the whole, and in so doing remember what Barret teaches us from those 50 melodies, which is pretty securely ingrained in my musical decisions about phrasing and in my teaching.

In closing, if anyone has read any of these ramblings, I really enjoyed my week.  I enjoyed NOT having a space for the Shop so I was stuck in the vending hall all day.  I enjoyed really hearing music, hearing and seeing my friends, some liesurely meals and conversations, and just being in a musical atmosphere.  We have something pretty great going for us as double reed players!  It is much more than just the oboe and the bassoon.  We have a "community" of friends and colleagues who care for one another and the future of the arts and music.  It is a precious opportunity to be treasured and to be passed along to each new generation as part of their care and feeding!  From me and many, A genuine thank you to the many on the IDRS Board, at Miami University, industry people, and performers who made this happen, and who continue to make it happen year after year.


Impressions of other attendees - IDRS 2012
More to come later -- meanwhile email me your impressions and I will add them to the page.  E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Thanks, gail
P.S.  Someday I will become technology smart and add a real BLOG to this site -- maybe!


Check out the IDRS Website HERE.






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