The main oboe andbassoon festival of the year swept into Redlands, CA like a cloud of reed dust las month, and I think everyone would agree it was a huge success. Los Angeles, only 1 hour away, has such a thriving double reed community that the entire convention felt like a giant homecoming game. Not that anyone at the convention would know– we are double reed players after all. Doubling on clarinet or saxophone in pep band was likely the closest we ever got to something like a homecoming game…
Happily, the only sporting events at IDRS were virtuosic displays of finger and lung technique by some of our favorite players and rising stars. Although the convention was packed with recitals and concerts, I spent most of my time at the Reed Lizard booth in the boisterous exhibit hall. For 5 days I had a constant stream of customers either ogling the historical oboes, buying up my reeds, or just hanging out to chat or watch me hand-shape baroque oboe cane. Many students, teachers, and professionals took my reeds home with them that week, and it warms my heart to think of all the fabulous music my reeds will be a part of. I already received messages from some of the LA “session” players– look out for my reed sound next time you play World of Warcraft!
One of my favorite parts of the IDRS experience was being one of the only representations of the early music community. Harry Vas Dias had his instruments on display, and the Wolff guys had a few baroque bassoons, but that is about it. My booth had lots of historical instruments and info, plus reeds to try. As the week progressed, more and more people would stop by and, in a hushed voice, “admit” to me they had a baroque oboe or bassoon and needs help or reeds or simply someone to talk to. I was able to set everyone up with reeds that worked, often taking special orders right there for me tocomplete over the course of the week. One of the trickiest parts of historical oboe is that every maker and every model needs a different type of reed. Standardization as we have today in modern oboe just didn’t exist yet. Oddly, more and more instruments began collecting on and around my booth. People wanted custom reeds, diagnostics, photos, help with selling… I started with 7 of my own instruments, and at one point i counted 14 historical and modern oboes AND bassoons! Where did they all come from? Take this as a warning, folks– do NOT leave your oboes and bassoons together unsupervised. I ended up bringing 2 more instruments home with me than I started. It could have been so much worse… Here I am with an 1850s anonymous French bassoon someone thought to leave with me! Luckily that one got returned to the owner. Honestly, what am I going to do with a bassoon?
Another fun aspect of the convention was the real interest I was getting in my teaching. I specialize in workshops, masterclasses, and lessons in all kinds of reed-making and historical interpretation. I enjoy working with college-level oboe studios to increase their awareness of early music, either through getting them started on period oboes or simply helping them go deeper into baroque and classical interpretation. In addition, my reed-making skills are relevant to all oboists. Several colleges in both the US and China are currently interested in bringing me for workshops– all because of the Reed Lizard booth!
The convention was particularly lovely for me because I did my oboe education in Los Angeles and many of my old colleagues, mentors, and teachers were there. In addition, I worked several years in the shop at RDG Woodwinds back when I was doing my undergraduate degree with Allan Vogel. The RDG employees will always be part of my Los Angeles family, as well as all the oboists and bassoonists I went to school with at CalArts and USC. I was so thrilled to catch up with everyone and see how their careers have blossomed sinceI left LA in 2005 (or in 2008, depending on how you count… but that’s another story). Here’s a shot of the Reed Lizard and me with my dear friend Lara Wickes, a fabulously talented oboist.
I couldn’t stay in LA long, though, because the next week I was off to France to play Mahler 1 with Phillipe Herreweghe. Blog post coming on that incredible experience