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Love, harmony and beauty



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'Joe nurtured my talent - I am particularly grateful he taught me how to breathe, which I now consider the fundamental principle underpinning all aspects of oboe technique. A year later I played my first concerto - the Cimarosa with the Ryedale Orchestra conducted by Lady Margaret Read, who earlier in life played viola in the Hallé under Barbirolli. Then followed the sheer hard slog of obtaining entrance to the Royal Academy on only grades 3, 5 and 8.

'Ideally, I prefer to guide and balance my own pupils' progress but a right outlook on life itself is essential to any artist. Over many years I have become interested in eastern philosophy - the notion that life in the universe may have begun from one single vibration, based on the teachings of the great musician-mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan.

'During my chronic life-threatening illness in 1986, I tried to develop the qualities of love, harmony and beauty in life while opening my heart to the universe. Experience the warmth that comes toward you, and you become aware that one can emanate this quality. Then, very recently, I realised that one can be naive concerning this. People can be defensive, negative or just plain horrible, and it is not nice to be on the receiving end, naively thinking in a "new age" way. For me, playing the oboe helps ameliorate life's problems, its tonal range - placating, playful, piercing - all these qualities and many more, communicated directly from my heart may reach the heart of the listener.

'Janet Craxton taught me that you can't have one sound: it's like an artist's palette of colours or timbres, and I can experience my emotions so much easier in music than with words. I use this in my work as a music therapist with people with severe mental illnesses. Through the experiences of my personal circumstances I seem to have developed the ability to "turn it on" to reflect the joy, the pain, the suffering, and when I have felt in love - well I've played very differently, and something amazing has happened - I try to empathise with the listener.

I have grieved deeply in my life, and on occasion this has been a point of identification and communication - I remember one situation when working with a young man who was desperately ill, disoriented, isolated, barely able to speak. One can feel lost oneself at such times, but it is like magic when one "tunes in". I only played three carefully considered notes with intuitive regard to choice of rhythm, tempo, dynamics - using a poignant interval, the minor sixth resolving to the perfect fifth. There was a moment of silence. Something must have resonated within him. His face crumpled and he wept spontaneously: "I just miss my Mum, so much". Powerful stuff!

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Copyright © 23 May 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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