There’s a new oboist in town

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THE next time you're at a Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra concert, look and listen for the new principal oboist. Bede Hanley has arrived.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/12/2009 (4807 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THE next time you’re at a Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra concert, look and listen for the new principal oboist. Bede Hanley has arrived.

While his name has appeared all season in concert programs, Hanley didn’t make his actual debut here until last week in Haydn’s Creation. The first impression was more than favourable as his solos were sweetly gorgeous.

The 31-year-old Saskatoon native was ready to chat after a rehearsal last week. "I just got here on Sunday," he explained. "I played my last concert in Auckland last week and came here right after."

CHRIS BLIGH PHOTO Bede Hanley jumps into WSO role.

Hanley spent two years as principal oboe in the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and before that, this self-proclaimed lover of travel toured with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia (Symphonic Orchestra of Galicia) in Spain.

He learned Spanish while there. "There was a huge mix of cultures in the orchestra," he said, but New Zealand, "was halfway to home, culturally." Hanley’s parents still live in Saskatoon and he has a niece and two nephews in Florida, so he expects to see more of them. "It’s a lot closer than Auckland," he laughed.

He began studying the oboe at age nine, staying with his first teacher, Mark Rogers, then principal oboist of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, until heading for university. "He is a magnificent teacher and oboist," he said with evident reverence and appreciation.

From there Hanley pursued his bachelor of music degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, under the tutelage of the late John Mack, a 36-year veteran of the Cleveland Orchestra.

With just three rehearsals under his belt when we spoke, Hanley already had made some first impressions. "He’s a real delight to work with," he said of conductor Alexander Mickelthwate. "He’s a lovely guy – and there’s a very respectful environment between him and the orchestra. It’s not always like that. There isn’t always that good humour within an orchestra."

It doesn’t hurt that Hanley already knew some WSO musicians before arriving here. "They’ve told me what good bars to go to here," he laughed.

Hanley, who is single, has moved into downtown digs and is starting to get into a routine. When he’s not practising, making reeds for his oboe, rehearsing and performing, he likes to stay in shape. The slim, funky-bespectacled Hanley seems like someone who knows how to get the most out of life, with his upbeat attitude and optimistic manner. Smiling, well-spoken and enthusiastic, he’s one of the nicest guys you’re likely to meet.

How does it feel to be assuming a position that was held by Doug Bairstow for 44 years? "I think it’s beautiful for an orchestra to have that kind of relationship with their musicians. I am honoured to have this opportunity and I hope to make a similar contribution," he said.

The repertoire coming up for the rest of the season will be a great testing ground for Hanley’s abilities. He’s looking forward to playing Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, which he described as "incredibly exciting" and Scheherezade (Rimsky-Korsakov), which is "a delight for oboe." The New Music Festival holds special appeal for the new kid on the block. "I love new music and I love performing it. It will be fun to be part of it," he said. His priority is the audience: "We want to play great concerts for our public, concerts that excite and stimulate … I want to do a great job at my job."

 

gwenda.nemerofsky@shaw.ca

 

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