Q&A with Oboist Melinda Maxwell Melinda Maxwell read music at the University of York and studied in Germany with Ingo Goritzki and Helmut Winschermann. She has performed as oboe soloist at many national and international festivals and is frequently heard on BBC Radio 3. What is your earliest memory of music making – how did you come to be an oboist? I learnt the piano from the age of eight and loved it. I also played the treble recorder in little chamber groups and learnt baroque sonatas with it. Radio 3 was always on at home and one day (by this time I was aged 13) I heard a Mahler symphony with a most beautiful sounding instrument playing. I asked my mother what it was and she said an oboe. I asked if I could learn it not knowing anything about it except that I loved the sound. I’ve been hooked ever since. Is your family musical? In an amateur way, yes. All my family are architects but my mother used to sing in a choir and my father played jazz piano memorising standards by ear. He also played classical piano music. What do you find challenging and exciting about working on a newly-commissioned piece? I love collaborating with composers and exploring what they have written. It’s wonderful to be part of something new. Sometimes the techniques required can be very difficult but I never think they’re impossible and try to find a way to make them work. What works do you enjoy playing the most? I enjoy all music but perhaps chamber and solo music I enjoy the most as it requires a deeper commitment and musical responsibility. Who has influenced you in your career as an oboist? My experience as a student at York University opened my mind and ears. Here I developed an understanding and a passion for exploring an eclectic range of music as a player and composer. My most cherished influences continue to be the composers who have written for me and continue to write for me. My teachers in Germany were also inspiring influences in playing and learning the oboe. What is your favourite BCMG memory to date? The rural tours, though long since passed, continue to hold some of the best memories. These occasions allowed an intimacy in communication and music-making in unusual places and venues to audiences not familiar with contemporary music. There were many wonderful surprises and real enjoyment amongst the players and audiences alike. What would you say to musicians looking to become professionals? Find out what music excites you and why. Remain passionate about how you practice as this influences how you perform. Listen to different styles and genres of music to enrich your ear so you can discover your own musical personality.