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The first instrument I can remember wanting to play was the bassoon. I took piano lessons from a young age, but never really got on with it very well. It didn’t seem to be easy to find a bassoon teacher – or maybe they thought that at 11 years old I was too young. In any case, I started on the clarinet. Bad idea. I never really longed to make the sound that even the best players made, and I couldn’t even get a note out of it without making myself dizzy. So I gave that up after a while and took up the violin. Better idea. I got along quite fast. But something was definitely lacking, and after a year or two I gave that up too. Then I discovered on top of the wardrobe in my parents’ bedroom, a viola that someone had given my mother years previously. I took it out, tried it, and immediately fell in love.

The interesting thing to me, is that although the bassoon is truly a bass instrument, I do think it has something in common with the tone of a viola, and I often notice playing in orchestras that the bassoon and violas play together – or have answering passages or are in some way relating to each other. And rather like the viola, it’s an instrument that doesn’t hog the limelight (like some others that we could mention) – your ear has to tune in to hear it, except for those memorable moments when it’s featured as a solo.

All the more reason to go to the Opus concert in Mendocino on Sunday. This promises to be a most unusual concert. I don’t think I have ever heard four bassoons playing quartets together – what a fabulous idea! And then Beethoven septet – only one bassoon in that, but a wonderful combination of wind and string instruments. I don’t know the Berwald, but I’m sure it will make an interesting contrast to the Beethoven. And besides all that, a new composition by Jeff Ives, principal viola in the Symphony of the Redwoods. I’m very curious about that piece.

The concert is on Sunday 25th January at 3pm, at Preston Hall in Mendocino. Tickets online at SymphonyoftheRedwoods.org: Harvest Market and Fiddles & Cameras in FB: Out of this World in Mendocino: or at the door.


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