Well, it would be fun if this does become a ¨hotter¨ thread. Does that mean we get some lurid oboe jokes??? I could do with a bit of humour...
Glad to see that dumdidum is still battling away (a newcomer to you AUK - joined while you were away with ¨other cats to whip¨, as they say here - apologies to cat lovers!).
Offline I´m in touch with Roseau and Hardying, who is also having quite a challenging time, and very occasionally catch a bit of flobiano´s adventures on FB. I´m not sure what arundodonuts is up to... about to start the Morris season, I should think.
In general the Forums do seem to have calmed down a lot. There don´t seem to be quite so many face-to-face events either, though sbhoa is stalwart in keeping Stalybridge going (I couldn´t make it last year but I really enjoyed playing with fsharpminor the year before - can´t believe I was brave enough to attempt Marcello!), katyjay continues with Egham (I´ve never been) and there have been a couple of new events in Bristol (I VERY rashly attempted Schumann Romance No.2, wedged in among rather impressive playing by a bunch of very competent pianists).
I have continued with oboe lessons, though for one reason or another they quite often get cancelled (last Tuesday´s was - and probably just as well). My nerves problem has got worse and worse so I have yet again put off doing my elementary recital (i.e. about Grade 5ish - and I'm really supposed to be doing the Intermediary one this year). I´m not sure how I´m being allowed to get away with it. I also get nerves when I have to do a band/orchestral solo, even in rehearsal (actually, rehearsals are usually worse than the actual concert). It´s really stupid because they´re really not that difficult. I have come to the conclusion that anxiety is pretty well at the bottom of all my oboe playing problems - tight embouchure, inadequate breathing, heavy fingers, etc, etc. I fear this will be a lifelong battle. In general, my oboe mojo is not in great shape at the moment. Sometimes I feel like I have made no progress in the last three years and maybe even gone backwards.
At the moment my oboe focus is pretty well reduced to improving technique (still abysmally slow-fingered, no vibrato to speak of or it´s not very well controlled, breathing needs work, etc etc) and stamina, which collapses if I´m off the horn for more than a couple of days. I always say that the main difference between youth and maturity on the oboe is the same as going to the gym - when you´re in your teens you can take two weeks off and it takes two days to get back into form when you start again but when you´re older you take two days off and you need two weeks to get back into form!
I´m not particularly working on interesting pieces at the moment, though I do have the pleasure of a fellow oboe student - much younger than me - who is now making faster progress to the point that we are now overlapping our lessons so that we can play a Vivaldi double concerto together (RV 535 in D minor).
Your new Ludwig Frank sounds lovely, AUK! My teacher wanted one a while back, having tried out Washington Barella´s (Brazilian oboist based in Germany). Too expensive, I think, which is unfortunate because I think he would sound lovely with a bit of German power behind his reed. He has stuck to Lorée for now but is always very complementary about my XL, which he´d buy from me in a split second if he could. Which just makes me feel that I really don´t deserve it with my lousy playing these days.
Is anyone off to any interesting music events this summer with their oboes? I know that Andrew Knight´s oboe course at Benslow must be coming up soon...
I don´t expect I´ll be back in the UK this year but I plan to be back for around 6 months next year, so I hope (funds allowing) to be able to attend more musical events. With my parents getting older, the plan is to spend more time in the UK so I´ve already begun to look at possible places to live (house prices are so frightening though!!!!). Until I decide where to settle, I expect I will hop between my parents as I did in 2015 - I hope the New Forest Orchestra (near my Dad) will take me back as 2nd oboe (I really enjoyed playing with them) and I´ve enquired with an orchestra in Monmouth (nearest orchestra to my Mum) and they said they´d be happy to have a 2nd oboe. Not very challenging repertoire, I think, but quite OK for me.
I really can´t bear the idea of leaving Costa Rica, though, so the plan is to flee the UK in the winter as long as finances permit.
By the way, a date for your diaries: 28 August to 1 September 2018. The IDRS conference will be in Granada, Spain - the first in Europe since 2009 in Birmingham. I didn´t manage to make Tokyo and I hope to be in Europe then (yes, for me the UK is Europe!!!!) so this one´s definitely in my diary... I´m hoping that there´ll be more Latin Americans this time since it´ll be only the second time they hold the conference in a Spanish-speaking country (the first was Argentina).