… but not only do I not live in New York, but I’m small potatoes — aw heck, I’m a potato chip — compared to names I’m reading:

Oligarchs of the oboe world gathered on Monday for a private dinner, buffet style, in a quiet corner of Greenwich Village. The event drew players from the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Soloists, prominent teachers and hotshot up-and-comers came too.

… all to meet with Albrecht Mayer. Not a bad crowd, I’m sure. I would have gone to steal reeds (as if anyone would bring them there, eh?).

Oboists are a peculiar lot: they give the tuning A before performances and often have the most prominent solos in a piece. Their instrument can sound like a singing human voice or squawk like a duck. Half their lives are spent hewing bits of cane to make the double reeds that can produce those gorgeous sounds but also prove cruelly disloyal.

The precarious nature of the double-reed existence creates a bond, several of the oboists said.

“We all know how difficult it is to play the instrument,” said Livio Caroli, who plays the English horn and is second oboist at New York City Opera. “We are dealing with nature, a tree. The tree changes in terms of the weather.” You may be the greatest oboist in the world, he said, but if you can’t express yourself, “you are dead.”

“We all know this,” Mr. Caroli added, an awareness that puts Mr. Mayer and his colleagues on the same playing field. (It was beginning to sound like Oboists Anonymous.)


I’m going to guess that any oboist in New York who wasn’t invited now has hurt feelings. Ah well. It’ll make ’em play even whinier … right?


  1. Pingback: Obohemia » Archive » Albrecht Mayer in the NY Times

  2. White suit and sideburns… Elvis playing the oboe???

  3. I thought he played bassoon! 😉

  4. This looks a great page – off to New York (1st time to US) tomorrow, was surfing to find shops in NY City, came across this in the meanwhile. Been playing oboe for almost 11 years; now really enjoy, apart from classical music, playing jazz, swing, & Latn American, having discovered I can bend notes. Family think I’m mad, as life is as oboe-filled as I can make it, but it is easily the best instrument ever.

  5. Welcome, Gail! Nice to hear from you. Have a wonderful time in NYC. What a lively and exciting city! It’s great to hear that you are making the oboe life work for you. I’ve been at it for more years than I care to admit, but it’s sure a great life. (Well, aside from those days like today when my reeds are dying, I’m exhausted, and I have a rather long opera to play!)