Search
  • San Francisco Opera Orchestra

Practicing During the Pandemic

We may be out of the Opera House, but the hard work never stops! We asked the Musicians how they are keeping busy on their instruments during the pandemic.


Oboist Gabe Young describes how the collaborative nature of music hasn't stopped for him. “As a collaborative artist by nature and trade, the relative musical isolation brought on by the pandemic has been challenging, to say the least. Knowing that I must keep my ensemble skills sharp, I make frequent use of my metronome and tuning drone in my daily work — giving myself ‘partners’ (inanimate as they may be) in the music-making process.”


Currently on Gabe's music stand: the fiendishly difficult oboe etudes of Gilles Silvestrini.

Gabe adds that “there is perhaps a slight misconception about professional musicians that says that once one has put in ‘x amount of hours,’ they have achieved mastery of their instrument. In reality, mastery is a much more active process — chasing the growth rate of your ambition with the growth rate of your ability. It is this continuous dance towards that has fulfilled the lives of musicians for centuries before me, and that has likewise kept me motivated during this difficult year.”


Gabe keeps practicing in perspective. “It is only a matter of time before we are back together in the Opera House, and once we are, I want to make sure that my ear is as refined and active as ever.”


Principal Bassoonist Rufus Olivier describes how he has continued to work on refining his technique during the pandemic. “In terms of polishing and honing our skills, our job is no different while we're out of the hall. Even when the field is plowed, you still have to feed the horse.”


Rufus's bassoon reed making desk, as busy as ever.

Rufus continues to abide by the same diligent practice and reed making routine he has adhered to throughout his career in the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. “When someone says to me, ‘you're paid to play music?’ I tell them that I'm paid to be able to play music. It takes hard work to be able to play the bassoon, and I can't ever stop.”


Hear Rufus play the Milde Concert Study No. 34 in E-Flat in this fabulous collaboration with SF Ballet Dancer Kimberly Marie Olivier (who is also Rufus's daughter-in-law!) as part of SF Ballet's Distant, Yet Connected series:



11 views

© 2020 San Francisco Opera Orchestra

Photo of San Francisco War Memorial Opera House © Mingjia Liu