The first day of the conference was great, one of the very first performances I saw was from Madera Vox, and I loved it. The musicians were so relaxed and obviously really enjoying themselves. I will be the first to admit that when I chose the oboe I didn't exactly have designs of being a classical musician at age 11. I gravitated more toward something like Madera Vox, or the idea of being a studio musician- just unconventional stuff.
One of my other favorites that first day, and a real crowd pleaser and standout over the course of the entire conference seemed to be THREEDS. They are an unconventional oboe trio, and they aren't playing your typical Beethoven Trio! They played arrangements of pop tunes by Kathy Halvorsen their lead oboist. It was so fun to hear a lively, non-classical performance. To see that oboe CAN break out of it's baroque based history into other realms like rock and jazz was so inspiring.
That day I also heard an interesting lecture by Anne Lemke about nurturing "Very Young Oboists". Of course I went because I have a ton of "very young oboists" pretty much all of my students are "very young", little did I know that she was talking VERY young... like 4-6 year olds playing oboe. This is a concept that while it was very interesting to hear about, is not something that I would be very quick to take up. While she addressed many of the aspects that can be tamed through child sized instruments and specifications, the main issue I have in teaching kids that small are- they are LITTLE KIDS. They don't have the attention span, not to mention the nervous system development to really be going into this stuff. I don't know... thats just me. Still, an interesting lecture and some good information on instruments in case I have some 5 year old come in for oboe lessons one day. :)
One of the great aspects of the conference were the nightly recitals which were mainly reserved for the double reed superstars. Big names like Gordon Hunt (he was a-mazing) Richard Woodhams, Katherine Needleman, Nick Daniel, Peter Cooper, etc etc. I just think that it is an amazing thing in this modern time to be able to walk into a concert hall and see these treasured performers. With the digital music scene being IT for the younger generation, heck even MY generation partially, some people will never experience the art of live performance just like I did in ONE single evening of hearing these artists. It is really a shame, and I pretty much try not to think about it. The price of the conference is well paying for itself in the incredible experience of seeing live music mastered by true artists like these. So great!
I won't go on and on, but my most favorite conference experience was on my last day there (Thursday) seeing my oboe grandpa Nick Daniel put on a masterclass. He focused on British works, Benjamin Britten Temporal Variations, Goosens Concerto, and Benjamin Britten Six Metamorphoses After Ovid. The energy and passion for MUSIC alone that he brought to the class was so exceptional. He cared so much about not just the individual playing but the audience and how they were about to receive what was being presented to them. He nurtured each performer rather than presiding over them, and within minutes had them playing more confidently and more expressively. One of the things he really focused on was the body, and how it affects everything we are doing as musicians. This is something that I am constantly thinking about, as I have had some real issues with pain in my right shoulder and arm over the years. It was great to watch him work on someone's body for only a moment and have their sound totally change, and watch their "instrument" really work to it's fullest ability. I loved watching him teach!
Of course I can't talk about the conference without talking about the SHOPPING! I LOVE going into the vendor area of the conference, while it is always initially a little stressful because there is SO much, it is so cool to see what new things the oboe "diagon alley" has to offer. One of the great things I will tell you to watch out for is a new English horn staple designed by the one and only Mark Chudnow. It has a tiny rubber O-ring embedded in the end of the staple so it won't come off of the bocal- buh bye old stinky shrink tubing!
I was really interested in trying out some oboes while there, because lets face it- these days people are playing what THEY like, not just Lorees anymore and I really want to be able to tell my students ages 10-21 with good working knowledge what is WHAT out there in the world of oboes.
Several friends have made the switch from Loree to Yamaha, I have posted about this a lot- so again I had to try some. While the ones that I tried were so responsive and easy to play especially in the low register- the thing that bothered me sooo much was a weird buzzy brightness to the sound starting on our favorite middle C and going upward. That is just me, and that was just those oboes on the Yamaha dealer table.
I tried out some new Loree AKs and a Buffet Greenline which was really a nice oboe. I had tried it in April at a gig when Steve Caplan let me play his, and liked it. I am definitely recommending it to my upper level students. One of the nicest oboes I played was the cocobolo Howarth XL oboe. I loved it, it played so velvety and smooth with a very consistent dark sound AND it is 10% lighter than grenadilla. AND ..... it is $9200 hahaha. Just like purse shopping, I magically pick up the MOST expensive oboe in the room. Of course it is awesome it is $9200 it had BETTER be! Still, it will be at the top of my list when I have the $ and the need to be oboe shopping.
My little old Loree is still chugging along, I am going to have the old girl repadded and adjusted this summer so that should help things a ton.
I am so looking forward to the rest of the summer with all of my students taking lessons and a syllabus to write for Dixie State College in the fall along with reed making and composing exercises for studio materials- I should have plenty to keep me busy for a little bit!