I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and started playing the oboe at age nine. As a young musician, I was surrounded by the flourishing culture of northeast Ohio. The Cleveland Orchestra was just down the street, and the city was teeming with first class arts organizations and fine arts opportunities. I feel blessed to have had the same wonderful teacher, Danna Sundet, throughout my elementary and high school years. It was from her that I grew to know the rich dark tone of the oboe and the wide range of colors and emotions one could create through the instrument. Not only did I learn to create a beautiful musical line, but I also learned the fundamentals of solid technique and the intricacies of reed-making. I felt so lucky to have studied with Danna, a student of the late, and very great, John Mack, and even getting to work with Mr. Mack as a part of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra. So when it was time for me to head off to college, I migrated south to Louisiana State University (LSU), not knowing that in a few short years, my musical path would come full circle.
I completed a Bachelors of Music in oboe performance at LSU, having studied with Linda Strommen. From her, I learned to refine my tone, pitch, and technique. From her, I also learned the art of the “20 minute reed.” But mostly, I learned to listen for what the music was saying to me and to play from the soul. As I prepared for graduate school auditions, I knew that I wanted to go back to Cleveland to study with John Mack. And that is just what I did.
While studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music, I soaked in the musicianship, artistry, and passion that John Mack had for not only the oboe, but for orchestral repertoire, chamber music, solo literature and even for simple technique exercises and etudes. When I left Cleveland and came to Texas, although scary and unknown, I felt prepared to share what I had gained from my three teachers and from my experience.
I have been performing, teaching, and making reeds in the DFW metroplex for the past 10 years. As a free-lancing musician, I have played all kinds of music, with all kinds of people, in all kinds of places. The ever-changing circumstances have greatly improved my versatility in performing and also in reed-making. I make over 150 reeds a month not just for myself, but for many oboists of various levels in Texas and across the country. I never thought I would ever be making that many reeds. In fact, I was slightly put out back in college when it was required that we make just 15 reeds a week! But it does provide a good excuse to have a nice cup of coffee and listen to classical music for four hours. Even with all the frustrations that reed-making can carry with it, I guess you could call it my four hours of Zen. And so I hope these reeds (made in a state of Zen) will enable you to play freely, and beautifully, and from the soul.