My Howarth Life – Sarah Roper

My Howarth Life is a new video series brought to you by Richard Craig Woodwind. Over the coming months, we’ll be interviewing Howarth players from all walks of life to see what it’s like to play these fantastic instruments. We’re really excited to learn different perspectives from oboists around the world ad hope you are too.

Sarah Roper is the Principal Oboe at the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla, Spain. She has been playing since age 10 and we were lucky enough to sit down and have a chat to her whilst she was in Australia on her masterclass tour.

The music in the intro/outro is from Albéniz- Tango in D on the CD “Cuarteto Emispherio, Quartets for oboe and strings ” which is available here:

Richard Craig Woodwind would like to thank Sarah Roper and Howarth of London for making this video possible.

Violet Wood Rigoutat with Gold Plated Keys

This is a sensational instrument. Specially commissioned from Rigoutat by a collector in 1992, it has only been lightly used and is in pristine condition. I’ve just finished a comprehensive service, so this sweet sounding, free blowing oboe is singing beautifully.

It’s a full Gillet system conservatoire pro model with left hand F and C sharp. The gold plated keys look spectacular against the violet wood. There are no cracks and the wood has been thoroughly oiled for maximum protection. Priced at around half of what it would cost new today, this is an opportunity to own a unique, fully professional oboe without paying full price for a new instrument.

Oboe Tenon Replacement

So you left your oboe on the bed, forgot it was there, sat on it and it’s snapped in half at the tenon joint. OMG, my expensive oboe – what a feeling!

Well, this video shows that it can be fixed. This is the first time I fixed a tenon using this technique and it’s one that I learned from my good friend Bernd Moosmann when I visited his bassoon factory near Stuttgart in December 2015. One of the things I find rewarding about being a woodwind technician is constantly refining your skills and learning new tricks. Building good relationships with other repairers is a great help in this. No matter how much experience you have, you can always learn from other people’s experience.

I’ve seen broken tenons fixed by gluing them back together, sometimes with pins to reinforce the joint, but this type of repair never seems to last very long. By counterboring into the instrument and fitting a new piece of wood, you get a much stronger and more stable repair. The crucial thing is to make sure the bore of the new piece matches up exactly with the bore of the instrument, so precise measurement of the bore and making an accurate reamer is essential.

Many years ago I had to fix a broken oboe tenon in a hurry because the player had to use it the next day for an audition. I had to use 5 minute araldite because I didn’t have time for the glue to set overnight. This repair lasted more than ten years of heavy professional use before the glue failed and the replacement tenon came out. I refitted it with full strength epoxy and the instrument is still going strong another ten years on.

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