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Reinventing the wheel

A soaring Pegasus -
appreciated by

'... a brilliance that makes you want to listen to it over and over again ...'

Gilles Apap and the Colors of Invention: Vivaldi's Four Seasons (c) 2002 Apapaziz Productions

The artist is the opposite of the politically minded individual, the opposite of the reformer, the opposite of the idealist. The artist does not tinker with the universe; he recreates it out of his own experience and understanding of life.

- Henry Miller (1891-1980) US author

'An Open Letter to Surrealists Everywhere', The Cosmological Eye (1939)

Not so very long ago, I sat tired after a busy day, playing hopscotch with the TV channels, not expecting to see anything worth watching. That's how I found him. I gazed, spellbound, glued to a documentary about this extraordinary musician. I was shouting out 'YES! ', agreeing with his views, amazed at what he was doing, and greatly appreciative of the path of someone who 'dares to be different'. I know how that feels; it's my own familiar territory.

Here was a violinist saying, 'My idea of hell is having to go and play in an orchestra every day -- performing what somebody else decides I must play, in a manner in which I am told I must interpret it'. I am paraphrasing a little, but that was the general gist. A breath of fresh air? A 'hurricane' would be more appropriate.

I'm an oboist. I specialise in a rare oboe, the oboe d'amore. I don't fit into a convenient orchestral pigeonhole by choice or by vocation. Why am I supposed to sit contentedly as half of a brace of the habitual oboistic spoon serving within a stereotyped, conventional orchestral formation? Why should I docilely accept being able to play what I really want about twice a year, when Bach Passions, Cantatas, the odd French impressionist, or twentieth century all-too-rare plasma transfusions permeate (if one is lucky)? Must one perform and idolise the Great Standard Orchestral Repertoire to be a professional musician? Is it obligatory to be conventional, one of the flock? Can't Music be other than symphonically orientated?

I had done my share of the orchestral treadmill; few were those who seemed to understand that was not what I sought in Music, or wanted from Life. Here was somebody saying he needed to be free to create, to interpret and to make music on his own terms in his unique way. An individualist, self-confessed and successful!

I burned a cone of incense.

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Copyright © 27 October 2002 Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland


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