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Noel Rainbird in rehearsal on 1 March

Theresa Caudle (violin): It’s not something I’ve consciously thought about before but on this International Women’s Day it occurs to me what a high proportion of us instrumentalists in OBS are women! I feel very lucky to work in a field where so many women flourish and their talents are recognised – and, so far as I know, get paid the same as men. Tom engages players from all age groups – this is hugely enjoyable and stimulating for us older players as well as extremely good experience for the super young musicians he employs.

How did you come to be a professional musician? 

Frances Norbury (oboe): I started playing the oboe when I was eight because there was one in the school cupboard and a recorder teacher who was really an oboist and wanted someone to teach!

Noel Rainbird (bassoon): I was a member of the European Baroque orchestra and loved the music and the baroque bassoon. I stopped playing after a couple of years to train and work as a primary school teacher before heading back to music. 

Rosie Moon (double bass): There are musicians who have always been surrounded by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, but I was mostly surrounded by jazz, electronic dance and 80s hits. The world we inhabit at OBS was pretty alien to me until I went to music college. I saw a cello being played for the first time when I was 9 and I remember being in awe of the mellow sounds and thinking the bow was like a paintbrush. I then saw a bass at age 15 (it was bigger and therefore HAD to be better) and was curious. I loved everything about the instrument, I played in all my local youth orchestras, and got such a thrill out of being part of the machine which creates that sound world. I loved the music, the challenge and camaraderie. 

Jam Orrell (viola): I was lucky because both of my parents are musical so music was always around me growing up. It was almost inevitable that I would end up being a musician in some form or another (though maybe they didn’t envisage me doing something so niche as historical viola…)

Victoria Rule (trumpet): I was twelve when I decided that I was going to pursue music. From then on I practiced hard and tried to do as much varied playing as I could, before going onto study at the Guildhall and the Royal Academy of Music, as well as benefitting hugely from a fantastic ERASMUS experience at La Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et Danse de Lyon, France.

Aliye Cornish (viola): I got a place on violin at the Saturday morning orchestra run by Oxfordshire County Music Service but I was told that if I learned the viola I could start very soon. The first time that I played the C string I remember my head buzzing with the sound and that was it, I was hooked on the viola. The dark colour and richness of the instrument still make me tremendously happy over 20 years later! 

L-R Jam Orrell, Theresa Caudle, and Vanessa McNaught in rehearsal on 1 March

Which other ensembles do you perform with? 

Theresa: I direct my own ensemble, Canzona, as well as playing in various other ensembles such as The London Handel Orchestra, The Hanover Band and The Monteverdi String Band. At present I am touring with English Touring Opera. 

Gabriel Amherst (cello): I help run and perform with Instruments of Time and Truth, which, like OBS is based in Oxford. I also play ‘regular’ cello and play in several chamber groups.

Noel: I have played in most of the period instrument orchestras in this country as well as some on the continent such as Anima Eterna, Amsterdam Baroque and Das Kleine Konzert.

Aliye: I regularly play with the English Baroque Soloists, Arcangelo, Dunedin Consort and the Irish Baroque Orchestra, where I am also involved in the management. 

Frances: I also perform regularly with Dunedin Consort and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Ensemble Zimmermann in Denmark. 

Gabriel Amherst tuning up in rehearsal on 1 March

Who is your favourite composer (except Bach)?

Gabriel: Always a hard one to answer: Handel, Mozart and Rameau. And Beethoven and Brahms…

Jam: I’d probably say my favourite composer at the moment is Caroline Shaw, I’m obsessed with her ‘Partita for 8 Voices’ right now!

Frances: My favourite composer really is Bach. But Monteverdi too. 

Aliye: Handel, without a doubt! I have also been listening to a lot of Anna Meredith recently and really love the sounds and textures in her music. 

Is there an OBS concert coming up which you are looking forward to in particular? If so, which / why? 

Noel: I always love the seasonal music so am looking forward to the St John Passion performances. I love marking of the time of year, the re-telling the story within the music, especially with an excellent evangelist, anticipating the bits I particularly enjoy, and the deep familiarity of knowing this music from the inside. 

Gabriel: I love the Easter Oratorio

Frances: I’m looking forward to all the Easter cantatas [Rejoice You Hearts and The Lord Is My Shepherd], I don’t know them and they look really festive. 

Theresa: We’ll be doing one of my all-time favourites – BWV 4 “Christ lag in Todesbanden” but also several I’m not familiar with. Its such a joy and privilege to get to explore so many of Bach’s cantatas with Tom – there are so many incredible pieces to discover!

Aliye: I’m very much looking forward to the Easter weekend themes of renewal and hope. The winter has gone on too long, and I can’t wait to be sat in New College Chapel feeling 2020 turning the corner through Easter into longer days, and hopefully a bit more colour and sunshine. 

Magnolia preparing to bloom at New College (1 March)

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