Love, harmony and beauty
Oboist STELLA DICKINSON talks to BILL NEWMAN
<< Continued from last week
'Development as a performer as well as in my therapeutic work is about
communication. Music is a universal language which can cut across the languages
of different countries; human feelings can have the same range despite cultural
differences. Being an idealistic person, I have to be careful not to go
off on some crusade, but connecting, creating and the regular renewal of
one's self belief is important in order to build up and bring out the music's
message without harming oneself. My style of playing has matured over many
years listening to exponents of the French, German and English schools,
and I can now say that the sound is my sound. You can hear it on
this album of folk melodies - many
of them laments with very sad texts. The Oak and the Ash is about
a homesick north country lass coming down to London. To have a full range
of expression, the oboe should not always sound 'nice' as such. It depends
on what you are trying to portray - real life is certainly not always nice
and these songs are about real people and their real lives.
Brilliant arranger Paul Hart was inspired by her playing and the risks
she took. He put all these songs into new classical settings for chamber
ensemble, and loved the way she held that final note of The Oak and the
Ash, 'so pungent, aching!' When a BBC producer brought Stella and Hart
together for a one-off programme 'The Art of Hart', Hart arranged a fugue
by J S Bach. Stella played all three parts overdubbing oboe, cor anglais
and bass oboe. This was followed by Trio Stellar with Paul at piano
and Brian Miller on keyboards, appearing live at the Cork Jazz Festival,
Barbican, National Theatre and in Norway. 'We'd moved on from Radio 2 and
did some Chick Corea with ethnic touches.
'It was then that we consulted producer John Boyden about how to proceed
with our first solo album. I began to explore my folk roots in earnest.
One of the album tracks Sair Fyeld Hinny is a Northumbrian lament.
We dedicated it to the memory of oboe technician Trevor Maloney who maintained
and restored my instruments and seemed to understand my intuitive approach
while effecting improvements by miniscule changes to the shape or size of
'I am frequently consulted by other players about my instruments, made
by Roland and Christophe Dupin. My very fine British oboe was suddenly swapped
half way through a performance for an old Dupin in bad condition, and Trevor
took all the keys off, soaked it in oil for several weeks and then restored
it. Eventually I commissioned a new one made out of cocobolo wood, recording
the Classic FM Radio identity jingles.' Dupin then made her a Cor Anglais.
'I had strange dreams. It was as if he knew me and understood who the instrument
was for. There was a strong psychic connection as if the energies of the
maker were absorbed by the wood and metal. For me, there is something mystical
about it. My relationship with Famille Dupin is very important, with much
good humour on both sides! I am very circumspect about other performers
handling or playing my instruments - they feel different afterwards,
and it is a very personal thing.'
Copyright © 30 May 2000 Bill Newman,
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