The Second Ruapehu International Oboe Summer School was a resounding success in every way, including the weather! Without sponsorship, we would not have been able to make this unique event in the Southern Hemisphere happen. We would like to thank Marigaux, KGE Reeds, Howarth and ABRSM once again, for their generous support.

Below are copies of two articles written by participants, for publication in the Australasian Double Reed Society journal, “Reeding Matter”. From these you will be able to get an idea of the content of the summer school and see how much it was enjoyed.

From Joshua Oates, Adelaide, Australia: Advanced Class

The turn of the New Year saw the running of the second Ruapehu International Oboe Summer School on beautiful Mount Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park on New Zealand’s North Island.

 

We were fortunate to have extremely talented international artists David Walter, Gordon Hunt and Kexun – generously sponsored by Marigaux, Howarths and KGE reeds respectively. Our third primary artist Robert Orr came from our hosts, New Zealand, along with our associate artists Martin Lee (also sponsored by KGE reeds), and accompanists Ya-Ting Liou and Dr Blas Gonzalez. The school’s last associate artist was our very own Eve Newsome. Additional sponsorship was also provided by ABRSM (Exam Board of the Royal Schools of Music). All of this was brought together by the incredibly hard working Alison Jepson and her team of very helpful colleagues.

 

With some travelling from as far a field as London and Johannesburg, our week began with travel around the beautiful mountains of the National Park, arriving for registration alongside the beautiful lake Taupo on Tuesday. Here we were warmly greeted by Alison and then treated to an exquisite concert by the artists including Britten’s Temporal Variations (Robert Orr) the Saint-Saens Sonata (Gordon Hunt), a beautiful Ravel piano Sonatine arranged by David Walter and a Bach Prelude and Fuge as a collaboration with Martin and Gordon Skinner (bassoon). We then all travelled into the mountains to the Chateau and completed the day with rehearsals for our chamber works and a small Masterclass, all topped off with a beautiful BBQ dinner at the nearby Tussock Tavern.

 

The rest of the week consisted of daily Reed classes, led by Martin and Kexun, individual lessons with the artists, Masterclasses – each of the three main artists did a solo and an accompanied Masterclass – and sessions that were devoted to either chamber music tutorials and rehearsals, other workshops or free time. Each period was separated by the delicious morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea supplied by the Chateau. The feedback from the Masterclasses was inspiring and very insightful with some wonderfully different views on lots of aspects of performance. A few of the consistent focus points made throughout were keeping a strong and steady air stream, incorporating your vibrato into your sound without it overpowering the notes and that as oboists (as most of us already know) we need to work extra hard to produce contrasts in sound and dynamic range to really keep our playing alive and interesting.

 

On the Wednesday we were spoilt again with a concert from the three main artists, each of them playing one of the Schumann Romances as a publiec concert in the lounge of the Chateau, all three performances incredibly different and each just as inspirational as the last. On the Thursday we also had time set aside to visit the hot pools, a great way to have an hour or so to relax in the middle of an amazing, full on week. On Friday night the advanced participants performed our chamber works as another public concert in the foyer of the hotel. Three groups performed, two playing Bach Brandenburg Concerto’s and the third playing a Ravel Paraphrase. On the final day, Saturday, we participated in the long note competition to see if anyone could beat the previous NZ record of 1:10 mins. Broken it was, by Alison Dunlop of NZ! We concluded the week with another concert of the Enthusiast Chamber groups and performances of the Advanced Class participants’ favourite piece from their Masterclass. It really was an amazing, fun filled week packed with so much to learn from some of the best oboists in the world. A real gem of the oboe community that I’m grateful I was part of and I hope continues for many years to come!

 

 

From Margaret Dewse, Auckland, New Zealand: Enthusiast’s Class

Chateau Tongariro nestling at the foot of the mountains was the superb setting for the Second Ruapehu International Oboe Summer School. The charm of the old building and the constant presence of magnificent peaks enhanced the experience of the 26 ‘advanced’ and ‘enthusiast’ participants.

 

Feedback from the enthusiast stream of the 2011 Summer School had requested more opportunities to play. These were offered this year and all the participants found the daily tutored chamber music sessions immensely valuable. Alison Jepson, Eve Newsome, Martin Lee and Robert Orr rotated between the groups. To have input from a different tutor each day provided a wealth of insight and help. Ranging from basic assistance in the art of playing together as an ensemble to exploring nuances of interpretation and performance, the benefits of these times were evident on the final day, when each of the groups performed the works in the final concert. Finding spaces for eight different groups to practice while private lessons were also being held was sometimes something of a challenge but this inventive group of people always managed to find somewhere for that extra bit of practice.

Master classes for the advanced students are always an opportunity to learn. As a player from the enthusiast group, it was by turns both comforting and daunting to realise that so many of the issues we face, are common to most oboe players. It was refreshing to hear the often similar solutions presented in the unique style of each of the principal tutors. David Walter possesses the talent to both teach and entertain in a way that made his master classes memorable and none of us will forget his use of dance-like antics to underscore the importance of movement in the musical line. Being coached by him for the ensemble playing of a Bach Prelude was an intense, exhilarating experience which resulted in a performance of the work, that in the beginning, most of could not have imagined would be possible.

The Cor Anglais workshop held by Robert Orr and Martin Lee gave many insights into the unique challenges of this instrument and practical suggestions to overcome them. Often these difficulties are compounded for players who must play both instruments in the course of a single piece. It was good to hear of the solutions and how the importance of sourcing the correct bocal for the instrument is critical. The master class that followed clearly demonstrated the points that had been made.

On the final morning Eve Newsome facilitated a workshop entitled Go with the Flow. In it she offered techniques for increasing optimal experience in practice and performance. These focused on integrated body movement stressing the importance of being in touch with the sensations of playing and attending fully to the sounds being produced. A brave volunteer from the audience was used to demonstrate the difference that could be achieved with these skills.

Throughout the week Kexun Ge of K Ge Reeds generously produced a steady stream of custom made reeds to help participants adjust to the challenges of playing at the higher altitude. Many thanks Kexun many of us are extremely grateful.

A personal benefit from attending the master classes was the exposure to some new and unfamiliar repertoire. I returned home eager to explore some of these works and have already sourced and begun some of these challenges!

The opening BBQ, meal times and the opportunity to socialise at the end of the day, often beneath a Mt Ngaruahoe washed rosy by the setting sun, were great times to catch up with players I had met two years ago at the First Summer School, to make new friends who share this passion for the oboe and to meet the tutors in ‘relaxed’ mode.

Congratulations and thanks to Alison Jepson and Martin Lee for the preparation and organisation that resulted in this excellent event. You are both truly amazing and all who attended are indebted to you.