I joined Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra in October 2014. I played the oboe a lot as a teenager but took a significant break once I left school. I went to university, to study Theology and Religious Studies, and have since worked in the public and charity sectors in various roles. Currently I am a finance manager with a local charity.
My mum and dad were great encouragers of music playing, and my four siblings and I between us represented significant parts of the wind and brass sections. I initially played the piano, but when one day my teacher said that another pupil had only improved after her cat had died, I took stock. I liked our cat, so, at age 11, I decided to swap to the oboe.
I love the oboe and see it as a kind of companion - one with a significant voice. At school I played regularly with a baroque music group, which included a beautiful harpsichord. I also really enjoyed being a member of the Staffordshire Youth Orchestra, travelling afar to Bahrain and U.A.E, playing to camels curling around oases of desert trees. I took up my oboe again a few years ago, and then last year was given a 35 year old Cor Anglais as a birthday present. It is, by chance, the same make and model as my oboe, and has a serial number only a few digits apart. The Cor is very gentle, and manages to sit very humbly with its orchestral parts, which by their very nature are often very exposed.
The programme for our concert on 14th March includes Dvorak’s New World Symphony. There are so many favourite moments in this symphony for many of us. I have to concentrate hard, as the other wind parts in particular charm me, and tease my concentration away from the task in hand. The Cor Anglais solo in the 2nd movement is, for me, a piece of poetry. It is often cited as sustenance to people when in profound distress, helping them make it through to the next moment. It is humbling to think that Dvorak wrote his Symphony in 1893, and 50 years later the tune from the largo was hummed by a choir of women in a Japanese POW camp, too starved to stand, yet finding the inner strength to perform this beautiful piece of music.