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<<  -- 2 --  Jennifer Paull    WHAT DID YOU SAY YOU PLAY?

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What on earth could I do ? I decided that I would swallow my pride, write to my Aunt in Switzerland, and simply beg.

'Darling Aunt, I am sure you will be delighted to know that I have decided to become a professional oboist. There is only one small problem I don't seem to be able to overcome. I do not have an oboe. Please, can you help ?'

Let's face it, the chances of success were more than slim. However, it worked! My wonderful Aunt, who had no children of her own, simply telephoned the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra and asked for the phone number of their principal oboist. André Raoult not only knew what to do, but helped me in many ways and remained a lifelong friend.

My Aunt managed to acquire a good second-hand Heckel oboe with André's help, and I received it in April 1961. Just over three years later, I won the post graduate Grade Five Prize at the Royal College of Music. I was determined to catch up on what I thought of then as 'the lost years'. I realise now that they had sharpened my determination which was to stand me in good stead in so many ways in the future.

At Christmas, just 8 months after receiving my instrument, I played in my first professional concert in Chester Cathedral; Bach's Christmas Oratorio. That was the first time I had actually seen the words 'oboe d'amore' written, and I was enthralled. There wasn't one, of course. I was playing a transposition (shudder) of the oboe d'amore part. However, in London two years later, there I was listening to the B Minor Mass with an oboe d'amore in the flesh, as it were, and there was to be no going back for me after that intoxicating moment. My determination or obstinacy had found its real mast, and I was stuck fast !

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Copyright © 18 January 2001 Jennifer Paull, Iowa, USA

 

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