Piano Accompanying from Singers to Oboe Players. Talk about maximum contrast. A competent accompanist needs to be like a chameleon. Chameleons or chamaeleons (family Chamaeleonidae) are a distinctive and highly specialized clade of Old World lizards with 202 species described as of June 2015. These species come in a range of colors, and many species have the ability to change color. Likewise, a good accompanist must have the ability to change styles like a chameleon changes color. This, of course, depends on who he’s accompanying. I have been fortunate to work with oboist Edmund DeMattia. He is an incredible oboe player and conductor. He is also into his 80’s. I have been receiving a wealth of much needed knowledge from him. Among his accomplishments:
- The idea for a “national concert band” began in 1973 with discussions among retired and former members of the four major military service bands in the Washington, DC area. The organization’s two main purposes were to provide a way for area military musicians to continue to play after retirement, and to preserve the concert band tradition of music in the United States, so prominent in the first half of the twentieth century.It was during conductor DeMattia’s tenure the Band participated in making the epic series of historic recordings of “The Heritage of the March,” produced by Robert Hoe of Poughkeepsie, NY.
- The first conductor chosen was Edmund DeMattia, formerly principal oboist with the United States Navy Band. He was one of the founding members of the American Concert Band Association (ACB) and the National Concert Band became a member of this professional organization.
Ed and I are rehearsing regularly for an upcoming concert. We will do well known and established works for oboe. My wife, Sharon Ohrenstein, will also sing. Much of our music is original. I write the music. Shes does the lyrics. However, I must mention, Ed will also be performing also be playing one of my original works. It is called the Iguana Farm. Audiences go wild over it.
Now here’s the difference between the voice and the oboe:
Piano Accompanying for Singers
- Singers need more of a background accompaniment. It is essential that lyrics be heard. Use the soft pedal on the piano. When music is marked forte, bring it down to mezz0 piano. If something is marked mezzo piano, bring it down to pianissimo, etc.
- When the singer is tacit in a piano solo section, then release your soft pedal. Play it full out.
Piano Accompanying for Oboe Players
Ed tells me “I need a full sound.” There is no concert band with us. We do not have 50 players. You are the only one. Contrary to the singer, when the music is marked mezzo forte, play it full forte. When it is full forte, play it doubly loud. The bass must always be strong and solid, even with syncopated passages in the treble. Without these directions, the music can easily turn to chaos.
I have been so fortunate to work with experienced older musicians. (1) Piano lessons with Mischa Kottler (2) Accompanist to world renowned violinist, David Rubinoff (3) Work with Edmund DeMattia. I’ve continually built on my Master of Music degree from Wayne State University. Since I myself am becoming older, I wish to keep the tradition going. I offer piano lessons in Sarasota; but for those who are interested the possibility of a career. Our concert date and place will be announced shortly.