Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Best Cane in Japan

My wife is an amateur microscopist and subscribes to Microscopy Today. In this month's issue there is an article about research done on Phragmites australis, cane that grows naturally in Japan that has been used for centuries to make reeds for the Hichiriki, a double reed instrument.

Using the input from a player of the Hichiriki, the researchers found that the best cane came from the banks of the Udono river in Japan. Other sources yielded cane with less desirable qualities for the player. Cane from this particular site has been harvested and made into reeds for over 1200 years!

The researchers took microscopic samples of cane from various sources, including the Udono and conducted analysis.

The results showed the cane from the Udono had the most consistent internal structure and a shell thickness of 1mm.

There is much to be learned from this research for the maker of reeds from Arundo donax, and, indeed, research on Arundo donax is cited in the article.

Here is a link to a pdf of the article. (Scroll down the table of contents to find the pdf link).

Monday, March 28, 2016

An Unusual Day

I had a most unusual day last Thursday.

In the morning and early afternoon, I helped a friend dismantle his 900 lb milling machine so it could be loaded out of his basement prior to his move to Atlanta this week.

Although the milling machine sits on a dolly, it was too wide and much too heavy to be rolled out of the basement. Like a ship in a bottle. So we had to take it apart.

In order to lift the top part off the base, we threaded a winch cable through a pulley attached to a ceiling joist by a large bolt. With a rope tied to the top part of the milling machine we hooked the winch cable to the rope. The winch was then attached to a another rope around a support pole in the basement floor.

Later, the machine parts were strapped to another dolly and rolled out of the basement on a ramp.

Later that afternoon, I enjoyed coaching a student group at CIM in the Beethoven Septet. 

That evening was Maundy Thursday. I was asked to play for many parts of the service. I performed with the choirs and played solos accompanied by piano and also by organ. I couldn't help but wonder what a visitor to the church that night might have thought about such extensive use of an exotic woodwind instrument in the service!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

2 Weeks in Milwaukee

I've spent the past two weeks playing with the Milwaukee Symphony. The first week's program consisted of Brahms' Haydn Variations, the Chaconne from John Corigliano's score to the movie, "The Red Violin" and Dvorak's 7th Symphony. Joshua Weilerstein conducted and MSO concertmaster, Frank Almond performed the violin solo on the Corigliano.

In between weeks there I had a few days off, so I traveled to Illinois to visit my parents and celebrate my father's 83rd birthday. It was a restful and enjoyable couple of days. I went for two nice runs on the Jane Addams Trail.

Back in Milwaukee, our next week of concerts featured four colorful pieces:  Ravel Mother Goose Suite, Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain with Ingrid Fliter as piano soloist, Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture and Debussy's La Mer.

Section for La Mer: Rudi Heinrich, myself, Joshua Fleming and Beth Giacobassi

Our conductor for this week was the fine, but quirky Junrkl.

During the week, Beth invited me to give a class for her students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

I enjoyed a couple of long runs on the Oak Leaf Trail and visited the Colectivo Coffee Bar in a re-purposed pump house right on Lake Michigan. My guest there was former MSO piccolo player and former Clevelander, Judy Ormond.

I also met Rudi for coffee at the Anodyne Coffee Bar located in the Bay View neighboorhood.