GVSU music department to host annual oboe day

By Carmen Smith | 2/26/17 10:06pm

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GVL / Courtesy - Kelsey Wilcox Oboe Day 2017

by Kelsey Wilcox / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Grand Valley State University will welcome middle and high school students from around Michigan who play or are interested in the oboe for a music-filled afternoon with the GVSU Oboe Studio in celebration of the double-reeded, woodwind instrument.

The 2017 GVSU Oboe Day is a day-long event beginning Friday, March 3 at 9:30 a.m.

This event is a part of the GVSU music and dance instrument series led by applied teachers. Marlen Vavrikova, GVSU professor of oboe performance and pedagogy, chamber music and music appreciation, hosted the first Oboe Day in 2015 and has continued the event ever since.

To kick off the day, all participants complete a registration, followed by a rehearsal in the CDC Auditorium at 10 a.m. Middle school and high school students from Michigan have the opportunity to rehearse and perform chamber music with the GVSU oboe studio.

The day is divided into many rehearsals and workshops where students will also have a chance to work on their reeds, participate in a workshop with the Whirlwinds, a student woodwinds quintet and work with their oboes on sound, intonation and finger technique. The day will conclude with music games, organized by music education major, Emily Walker.

“Instrument days are a great opportunity for our students to get more performing and teaching experiences,” Vavrikova said. “My favorite part is meeting young students and sharing my passion for music and oboe with them. It is energizing to see how excited they get when they experiment with new concepts or when they for the first time perform in a large group of oboists.”

Vavrikova has been playing oboe since she was 10 years old. Growing up in the Czech Republic, she attended the Ostrava Conservatory of Music at the age of 14 where she joined the oboe studio of music professors Gabriel Sykora and Josef Zidek. She won multiple competitions and after graduation, studied with Richard Killmer at the Eastman School of Music. Later, she studied with Nancy Ambrose King and Dan Stolper at the University of Illinois, where she finished her musical arts degree in 2004.

Vavrikova has been a professor at GVSU for 11 years, and maintains a position in the Grand Valley Winds faculty department and Chamber Music Ensemble. When she isn’t teaching at GVSU, Vavrikova guest teaches at the Interlochen Arts Academy as a visiting oboe instructor, and is one of the judges of the preliminary round of the prestigious Gillet-Fox Oboe Competition at the Ostrava Oboe Master Classes and Festival in the Czech Republic. She also performs solo and chamber music recitals on and off campus and has recorded two CD’s, including: “Czech and Moravian Oboe Music” from Centaur Records in 2011 and “Petr Eben: Chamber Music for Oboe” from Toccata Classics in 2013.

“My favorite (thing) about the oboe is its sound," Vavrikova said. "Oboe almost always gets to play long emotionally-charged melodies and beautiful pastoral motives.”

GVSU Oboe Day will be packed with group performances and visiting ensembles and universities, providing middle and high school students with a chance to see what a day in the life of a collegiate level oboist is like.

“Often times, there are only one to two oboes in each middle school or high school band program,” Vavrikova said. “They are are often underrepresented in band programs across the state, and I appreciate that we now have a beautifully renovated reed-making room and school instruments for those who cannot afford them.”

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