May 3, 2019

Chapter 1: San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 1986


I was a first year student on track for a life in symphony orchestras, but I loved baroque music, especially Bach. I had heard recordings of baroque oboes but I didn't quite fall for them. Then my friend the harpsichord student played me a cassette of Trio Sonnerie performing Couperin. My mind fairly exploded. It wasn't simply discovering a nice record. It was an entire musical world that opened up when I heard violinist Monica Huggett play French music. As it happens, I was playing some Couperin at school, but ours was stiff and belabored, while theirs was all elegance and grace, the ornaments rolling off the phrases without getting in their way. I knew then that I had to play this music a lot, that it would never happen in symphony orchestras, and that my modern oboe could never do that. I had to give up the keys. In the next two years I quit school because I won a full time orchestra job, taught myself baroque oboe on the side, qu...

March 18, 2019

On March 21st and 22nd House of Time will perform A Sex Vocibus: Bach's Musical Offering. (You can get tickets at this link). Celebrate Bach's birthday with one of his greatest masterpieces, The Musical Offering! This late work has a fearsome reputation for being hard and cerebral, but it is actually one of Bach's wittiest pieces, and with House of Time's colorful performance and Gonzalo X. Ruiz's pithy explanations, you'll be in on the joke. Follow along as the theme given to the composer as a challenge by King Frederick the Great goes through kaleidoscopic transformations and fabulous feats of counterpoint, culminating in the awesome Six Part Ricercar. Before we dive into Bach's magisterial note juggling we'll begin with Vivaldi's thrilling chamber concerto in D major, RV 94. This gem has solos for the flute and oboe, as well as all the violin fireworks you would expect. Rome Prize winner Carolyn Yarnell's "More Spirit Than Matter" rounds out the program, taking listeners through var...