For oboists and bassoonists, reedmaking in the wee hours

Posted on: December 15, 2015

“On a recent Saturday night, Cynthia Koledo DeAlmeida, the principal oboist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, returned to her home in Franklin Park after a performance,” writes Elizabeth Bloom in Sunday’s (12/13) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “She went downstairs. Down to the Dungeon. It was nearly midnight, and Ms. DeAlmeida was going to make an oboe reed…. All musical instruments require some tender loving care. For woodwind players, a good reed determines their sound, tone, pitch, response and comfort. Teachers pass down this craft to their protégés, and Ms. DeAlmeida said her students at Carnegie Mellon University essentially have two majors: oboe performance and reed making.… [Oboe reed] cane hails from the Var region of southern France and also grows in Argentina, Australia, California, China and elsewhere. Many musicians believe that the same conditions that make excellent wine produce excellent reed cane, and they age the cane in a similar way…. ‘You never get the same piece of cane twice. They’re like snowflakes,’ said Jim Rodgers, the PSO’s principal contrabassoonist.” The article details the reedmaking process, from gouging and shaping cane to tying cane to a tube and scraping the end of the reed with a knife.

Posted December 15, 2015