After rehearsal in Field Concert Hall at the Curtis Institute of Music for our Dolce Suono Ensemble concert tomorrow, I played Syrinx from one of the balconies. In honor of our program “Debussy Painter of Song,” I chose the balcony in reference to Debussy’s song Le balcon, one of his Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire. We’d be delighted to have you join Sarah Shafer, soprano, Natalie Zhu, piano, and me for a program of Debussy and seven Young Composers Competition winners tomorrow afternoon!
I played today’s Syrinx in honor of the great oboist Marcel Tabuteau, in the room dedicated to him at the Curtis Institute of Music. He was principal oboe of The Philadelphia Orchestra from 1915-1954, during which time he taught at Curtis. He was one of the French woodwind players brought to he United States by Walter Damrosch to play in his New York Symphony Orchestra in 1905, along with the important flutist Georges Barrère. Among Barrère’s students was William Kincaid, with whom my teacher Julius Baker studied at Curtis. Tabuteau and Barrère were some of the French artists who brought their traditions of wind playing to the United States, where they took root and became important American schools of playing through generations of students. I was fortunate to study with Richard Woodhams, Principal Oboe of The Philadelphia Orchestra who currently carries on Tabuteau’s tradition of leading the woodwind class at Curtis. We often met in the Tabuteau Room for our sessions on orchestral repertoire and wind ensemble music. It is amazing how Tabuteau’s tradition lives on at Curtis, not only through the oboe lineage from Tabuteau through John de Lancie and Richard Woodhams, but through other wind players like Donald Montanaro, retired Associate Principal Clarinet of The Philadelphia Orchestra, with whom I coached in wind quintet when I first arrived at Curtis. There are certain approaches to music hearken back to Tabuteau, such as a numbering system for dynamics, which are part of the common language we share as Curtis-trained wind players.
This afternoon’s Syrinx comes to you, with a backdrop of books, right after I taught a flute student and right before I left to hear The Philadelphia Orchestra. The concert tonight was spectacular, music of Beethoven, Berg, Webern, and Ligeti conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, with soprano Barbara Hannigan.
While soprano Sarah Shafer and pianist Natalie Zhu rehearsed Debussy’s Ariettes Oubliées for our Dolce Suono Ensemble concert on Sunday, I slipped into the Salzedo Room at Curtis to play Syrinx before returning to rehearse more of the repertoire with flute on our program.
Late afternoon sunlight streamed into the room, dedicated to the great harpist Carlos Salzedo, while I played overlooking Rittenhouse Square. I reminisced about my lessons with Julius Baker and Jeffrey Khaner in that room while I was a student at Curtis. I miss Mr. Baker, and imagined that the echoes of his glorious tone – which I heard at so many of my lessons - were in the room with me.
Syrinx on a visit to my father’s department of foreign languages at The College of New Jersey. I always feel at home surrounded by books.
May 12, the birthday of Gabriel Fauré. I played some of Fauré’s classic flute works along with Syrinx in honor of the great composer and Debussy’s elder colleague. Excerpts from Fauré’s Fantaisie, Morceau de Concours, and one of his great songs, Après un rêve, which I perform on flute.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I pair Dvorak’s Songs My Mother Taught Me with Syrinx this evening, played with love for my mother and in memory of my grandmothers. Happy Mother’s Day to all moms!
This afternoon our friend Javier came to visit my parents and me with his mother and sister, who just arrived from Mexico to attend his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania. We greatly enjoyed their company and completed a delightful afternoon with some flute music, including Syrinx.
This afternoon between taking my flutes for repairs by the excellent Mike Hammer and recording Dolce Suono Ensemble concert broadcasts I am co-hosting with Bill Zagorski at WWFM radio, I visited my father’s foreign language department at The College of New Jersey. I popped into an office for Syrinx.