It has been quite a while since my last post. This doesn’t mean that my music adventures ended and I didn’t have anything else to say about it in here. I just needed to refocus a little, take some time off from social media and get some work done.
My oboe life stopped for a while in the first half of 2012. I moved to a new apartment to be with my now wife (we just got married in May), got a new job, and was still pushing to complete my doctoral degree (which will finally happen very soon). Because of that and because nothing was really happening with my music, I decided to take a break from it. But it didn’t last long…
In 2010, I started to play my oboe again after almost 10 years. I had some time, I was motivated, and music has always been my passion. To keep me on track, I participated in the oboe studio masterclasses at the University of Arizona. It was something light and it also helped me refresh my memory on “oboe stuff” and learn new tricks of the trade. This connection with other oboists led to an invitation to participate in the U of A Symphony Orchestra for a few concerts in 2011. I have to admit, this experience at the U of A School of Music made me feel right at home again.
However, by mid-2011, I started on a new job as an instructional designer at Pima Community College here in Tucson, AZ. This is what I do as a profession. Because the schedule of the rehearsals and masterclasses conflicted with my work schedule, I went with the obvious choice: keep the job and move the music to the back burner (again). This doesn’t mean that I stopped playing. In the beginning of 2011, I had come across the web site for the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra (SASO). It is a community orchestra in Tucson with volunteer musicians. There was a note on the web site stating that they are always interested in new musicians. Well, I sent them a message and hoped to hear from them soon.
Several months had passed, I was already on my new job, and by the end of 2011 I was contacted by the SASO’s manager. He wrote me saying that they had an opening for a substitute oboe, and he wanted to know if I was interested in auditioning for it. At first I was unsure. I wasn’t playing for a few months already, but I decided to accept it (the heart wants what the heart wants…). I had about one month to be in a reasonable shape for the audition, which seemed to have worked because I passed and was invited to participate in the orchestra.
My excitement was not long lasting. A substitute player is called when there is a need for it, and there was not a need for it for more than a semester. My life kept going and my regular oboe practice faded away once more. Curiously, in the spur of the moment, I ended up doing something completely different. I like all kinds of music, and I thought it would be interesting learning a new instrument for a change. So I got myself a mandolin, started learning how to play it on my own (I have played the guitar for many years, and I used this knowledge to learn the mandolin). Eventually, I discovered some bluegrass masterclasses and rehearsals through the Desert Bluegrass Association, and I’ve been participating in them since then. Although I find bluegrass fun and uplifting, my background is in classical music, and I have also been exploring classical music on the mandolin (which is what I mostly practice on it).
Going back to the oboe. On the second semester of 2012, I was finally called to participate in a few concerts with SASO. They needed a third oboe, and I was it (actually, I am it). The only thing is that I don’t own an English Horn which is needed for a third oboe, so I cover the other parts as necessary. From then onwards, I have been playing in every concert. Recently, I have also been invited to participate in the Tucson Repertory Orchestra, which is made of volunteer musicians as well and it focus on the reading of standard orchestra repertory. I have been one of the oboists of this orchestra for a couple of months now. It is great that I have now these opportunities that allow me to play the oboe more regularly.
In addition to the oboe, mandolin, eventual guitar plunking, piano clunking, and some rare noise making on the flute and on the shakuhachi, my latest musical adventure is the electric bass guitar. I gifted myself a 6-string one for my birthday a couple of months ago and like many of the other instruments, I have been learning how to play it on my own. Who knows what will come from this, but I’m enjoying every moment of my busy musical life.