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<<  -- 2 --  Jennifer Paull    REMINISCENT RETROSPECTIVES


I have lived in many countries and delighted in travel to others. I shall never forget the years I lived in Oman and Dubai; the years I returned time and again to Iran for concerts or festivals or another of the many artistic arrows with which I have always preferred to fill my quiver. I was instrumental in the founding of the Teheran Symphony Orchestra, I worked for composers in Iran, promoted the National Dance Company, and booked the London Philharmonic Orchestra to record the music for the Shah's official film of the festivities commemorating the founding of the Persian Empire. I had been invited to Kabul -- but had never gone.

As a young music student, I used to puff up with arrogant outrage every time someone asked me what my 'real' job was. I used to think that my horizon was planted with purely musical forests, and strictly performing ones at that. It didn't take me long to realise that in my case, this was not to be. I needed diversity. I did not wish to conform to what was considered 'normal' and 'acceptable' for a performer in those compartmentalised days of the 1960s. At that time, women in London could only play in the wind sections of the BBC Symphony and the English Chamber Orchestras. I played often in both. One didn't need a burkah, but that was small consolation at the time, especially for someone with an unconventional, pioneering disposition, and somewhat of a feminist!

Everything altered in my forest of preconceptions the moment I first heard the oboe d'amore (Brompton Oratory, B Minor Mass, Bach). That was it! As far as bolts from the blue and their convenience, future prospects, and comfortable practicalities are concerned, this was more of a Titanic rather than an Olympic moment. My oboe professor at the Royal College of Music (Terence MacDonagh) warned me off the 'bloody thing'. I was lost as far as being 'conventional' and 'reasonable' were concerned. The voice of reason was to be ignored!

Maybe because I have had to fight so hard to do it, playing the oboe d'amore became more of a mission than simply performing upon the instrument. I quickly became a specialist and travelled all over the country playing in many Bach Cantatas, Passions, and Ravel Boleros -- the other two B's of this d'amore player's existence being Bed and Breakfast.

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Copyright © 31 December 2001 Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland





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