Thursday, September 20, 2007


Dave always gets after me about my tendency to impulse-buy. (Although sometimes he's just as bad--we almost named our second cat "Impulse" instead of Fanny...) Well, what happened yesterday was definitely spontaneous, in a fell-in-my-lap sort of way, but as I've been thinking about it for a few years now, I wouldn't call it an impulse.

Surprise of all surprises, I will likely be buying an English horn!

My friend and her husband were (are, as I'm sure they're not there yet!) driving from New Jersey back to Colorado, relocating for his job. The timing couldn't have been more perfect as they passed through Iowa in time for lunch. The visit was way too short, but they were eager to get back on the road and on to their destination. During our kitchen visit (chatting in the kitchen, not about the kitchen), Robin brought up the subject of her three instruments she's going to try selling when she gets to CO. She has two oboes and an English horn. She bought the English horn in 2002, new, and really hasn't played on it for a few years. It's pretty much still new. It's a Loree and BEA-utiful. I asked if she happened to have it with her. This lead to unpacking the tote from the car, unpacking the tote in my living room, and trying it out in my study while they both wanted to get going.

I played it in front of Robin for all of 5 minutes, and I asked her if she'd consider leaving it with me to try some more. She agreed--heck, it made sense to save on shipping costs, and she was right there! (Again, perfect timing! Lunch AND an English horn!) I didn't have time to play it again before my Cedar Rapids rehearsal last night, and the next time I picked it up was to play it for my section mates during the break at rehearsal.

I'd been playing the Saint Saens all evening with my own English horn, and I had some response issues that I'd assumed were problems with me or my reed. I picked up the Loree EH at break, and it was as if sparks flew! The ease with which it played immediately was astonishing. I felt like Harry Potter choosing his wand. The English horn chose me, I did not choose the English horn. It's in perfect condition, no repairs or adjustments necessary. It's a tad flat, but I've only tried one of the bocals, and we always need to get used to tendencies. It was odd to feel so immediately connected to this instrument. It was meant for me! I even named it already. I haven't named an instrument since my first oboe, Jean-Claude Van Oboe. He was a Loree. I never came up with a name for my Royale, which I've had since 2000. My Bulgheroni English horn also never received a name. For some reason, Marilyn popped into my head as I played this Loree EH. Possibly because Robin is an old-time movie buff, but more likely that the horn was immediately the star of the show. (Isn't it always?!)

My section in CRSO loved it and said I shouldn't hesitate to buy it.

As I only played in six measures of Bernstein's "On the Town", which we played after the break last night, I decided to put Marilyn to the test in an orchestral context. The principal cellist came up after rehearsal and complimented me on my tone. This was based on a two-bar phrase I have, repeated twice. If that isn't a reason in itself to go for it, I don't know what is!

I still want to be smart about this. Although this is probably as close to new as a used instrument can be, I had planned on buying a new English horn in the next couple of years. Of course, this would save me a lot of money. Then again, I don't have ten instruments in front of me to choose from. I plan on recording myself play in different acoustics, and I'll also record myself on my Bulgheroni. I'm really wanting a huge sound. I still love the sweet sound of the Bulgheroni, but Marilyn isn't all power. She's got finesse.

I may be jumping the gun in blogging about this...just in case, for some bizarre reason, I change my mind. I don't want Robin to be disheartened. Then again, she's driving across the country and won't have internet as soon as she gets there, so I'm safe for a couple days!! ;)

I'll also need to sell my Bulgheroni before I can pay Robin. OctOBOEfest is coming up, which may give me a good opportunity (also to sell Robin's other oboe she left with me), but once I decide for sure that I'm taking the plunge, I will post it on this blog and ask any oboe friends that feel comfortable to list it on their blogs or websites too. Stay tuned!

*Update: I played it tonight, paying much closer attention, and I still love it. It's not perfect though. It hasn't been played for a while, so there are some adjustments that need to be made. A few fuzzy notes too, which I think can be adjusted by changing some key heights. I'll talk to my repairman. I think I'm going to go for it! I need to call Robin tomorrow!


Patty said...

Sounds good!

I have a few students who are interested in an EH, so keep me posted! :-)

C.J. said...

So How's the EH coming? You still liking it as much as you first were?