An Exhausting IDRS 2011

June 4, 2011

The IDRS 2011 conference began Tuesday and runs until tomorrow, and while it has been an incredible treat privilege to have so many world class musicians come this year, it has be truly exhausting.

The conference has a been a true joy when it’s come to meeting people. It’s odd how small the oboe community is when you take them all and put them in a small conference. I’ve met more people than I can keep track of, including Anne and her husband Dave Krabill who own Emerald Reeds, oboe Bboard acquaintance Craig Matovich, fellow blogger Caitlin Pawl  who went to dinner with us the first night, Nick Daniel while getting a beer with friends, Emily Pailthorpe and David Weiss while having breakfast with Mr. Stolper, and of course Mr. Woodhams while playing in the masterclass. I frequently find myself saying, “Wow, these folks are normal people, but they’ve put a million more practice hours than I have…”.

The performances so far have been unbelievable, and I have only been able to go to a fraction of them. Some highlights include:

  • Nick Daniel premiering two recently discovered Handel Concertos (discovered by Sandro Caldini in Sweden)
  • Richard Woodhams and Gordon Hunt performing Concerto for two oboes by Nigel Treherne.
  • Robert Walters performing Concerto for English Horn and orchestra by Peteris Vasks
  • Peter Cooper performing Four Personalities by Alyssa Morris
  • Nicholas Daniel’s masterclass on British Music for oboe (works covered included the Goossens, Britten Temporal Variations, and Britten Six Metamorphoses)
  • Robert Morgan and Frank Rosenwein performing Sonata no. 1 and 2 of the Handel Double oboe sonatas.
  • Robert Walters performing New Music for Oboe and English Horn
  • Katherine Needleman performing The Catherine Wheel by David Ludwig
  • Martin Schuring and David Sogg performing Concerto for oboe and bassoon in F Major by Antonin Reichenauer (a Czech contemporary of Vivaldi)
  • Frank Rosenwein and Amy Lee playing the Bach double concerto
  • Richard Woodhams performing Concerto tre d’uno (1st mvt d’more, 2nd mvt. oboe, 3rd mvt. English Horn)

And these are only the big names. Tomorrow Emily Pailthorpe and Katherine Needleman take the stage on the final concert.


As I mentioned previously I did perform on the Woodhams performance, all 8 measures of the piece. I remember hearing his masterclass in 2008 and thinking it was really well done, so I jumped at the chance this year. I prepared all four movements of the Handel g minor concerto and I didn’t make it past the first phrase. Yup, all 10 seconds worth. Mr. Woodhams said he liked the Tabuteau recording, and how Tabuteau stretched the first measure to be almost out of time. In fact, Mr. Woodhams wanted me to take the whole first measure waaaaaaay out of time. So he worked with me to play the rhythms double dotted “just right” with the “just right lift” and “just right decrescendo” with the “just right vibrato”. It was so subtle that it left me baffled on more than one occasion. He’d stop me and tell me to “play it this way” and I’d try to mimic, thinking I’d done what he wanted when he would say “No, no, try it again. THIS way.” and he’d do it again where I still wasn’t sure what he wanted, because I thought I DID do it that way. This went on for the 20+ minutes I had in the masterclass, until we eventually ran out of time and he dismissed me for the next person. My initial reaction was disappointment and a strong sense of failure, as I was the only person who didn’t get out of the first phrase. (Others played as much as two full solid movements.) However since the masterclass, I’ve been reassured by many big-name players who went out of their way to congratulate me, so I guess it came off as a success even though it sure didn’t feel that way as I was sweating bullets under the stage lights.

I’ve had a day to process the whole event, and the lesson learned is that I really need to begin to start paying attention to such detail. Really, really really, subtle, minute detail that frankly speaking, my ear isn’t trained to listen for at this stage in my career, but I need to begin to develop. In fact, it’s such a uncertain feeling it’s like walking into a pitch black football stadium and trying to find the opposite end zone.

I’ll take more time to ponder all of this when I get the CD tomorrow morning and give it two or three listens.


One Response to “An Exhausting IDRS 2011”

  1. Anne Krabill said

    I was there, Cooper, and you need not feel a failure. I have been in your place, with a few small things being picked apart. You take what he said and apply to all of it and will end up with a marvelous performance. You sounded great! And we had such fun together at all of the performances you mentioned in your blog!!

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