WindFest! brings musicians of all levels to UBC

This Sunday, the first ever WindFest! -- a woodwind workshop at UBC -- will open to oboe and bassoon players of all ages and skill levels.

Drawing inspiration from both the annual International Double Reed Society conference and UBC’s own BrassFest! events, the full day event will include a series of masterclasses, performances and presentations. These will feature UBC students and faculty as well as local artists and visiting guests from Seattle, Oxford (Ohio) and Paris.

“It’s a good way for UBC students and young up-and-coming high school kids or beginners to just get exposed to all levels of playing and hear professionals play,” said Beth Orson, Assistant Principal Oboe and English Horn at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and one of the UBC faculty members organizing WindFest! “We’re hoping anybody with an interest in double reeds will come. We’ve got a range of sessions that should appeal to beginners as well as advanced players.”

Julia Lockhart, Principal Bassoon at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and sessional lecturer at the UBC School of Music, is involved this year as a faculty performer and is one of the experts coaching the morning masterclass sessions. “It always comes down to what the students will play for me,” said Lockhart regarding the content of the classes. “I need to adjust my teaching approach to the needs and level of the student.”

“Masterclasses are almost better than a private lesson,” said Kristen Cooke, an Oboe Performance DMA-candidate helping to organize the event. “You’re able to watch other people and understand the problems you might be having in your practice room – everyone else is having them too.”

One of the distinguished guests is Alain de Gourdon, the president of Lorée oboes based in Paris. De Gourdan is scheduled to deliver a unique talk on the history of the Lorée oboe company while joined by Brent Hages, a collector who will bring a series of historic oboes to illustrate the changes in construction and sound over the years.

“[De Gourdon and Hages are] two people who really understand the progression and the development of our instrument and the way it’s built today,” said Cooke.

Charlotte Tai, a second-year music student in oboe performance, is also looking forward to meeting the guest speakers. “It’s pretty cool that [De Gourdon] is coming here,” said Tai. “A lot of people play his oboes. Pretty much all the local professionals play a Lorée oboe ... it’s a pretty big deal.”

In addition to the workshops and performances, a variety of double reed instruments, reeds and accessories will be available for sale throughout the day. Reed-making demonstrations and repair workshops will also take place at the event.

“Events like this are really great to see what’s available in your area and maybe open up more options for me as a performer who might be looking for a new instrument,” said William Lin, a fourth-year music student in oboe performance.

The vision is to keep expanding WindFest! over the next several years and rotating the focus to different woodwind instruments every three years. The next two years of WindFest! are projected to feature single reeds (clarinet and saxophone) and flute.

“This is the first year we’re doing [WindFest!], but we really hope to continue it,” said Cooke.