Introducing our Oboe Specialists Oliver Phillips. Mandy MacEwan and Bethany Craft!
Our Oboe Specialists are based in our London Showrooms on Chiltern Street and are here to offer assistance with all your oboe needs and requirements. They can help you throughout all stages of your oboe journey, from helping you choose your first oboe to providing advice about reeds and reed making during your time as a student or professional.
You can get to know them better, as they have answered a few questions about their musical learning, hobbies and favourite things to do in London.
How long have you been working at Howarth?
Oli: 7 years
Mandy: 6 years
Beth: 4 years
What instrument do you play? And why did you choose it?
M: I play a Howarth S5. I really got on with the sound and stability of the instrument. From the selection that I had it was the one that stood out.
B: I play a few woodwind instruments, but oboe is my primary instrument. My oboe is a Howarth S6 model. I used to play on an open-holed Howarth S2 oboe made in the 1950s, but reached the point where I needed an instrument with the level of keywork modern professional oboes have. I wanted to upgrade my S2 oboe to one with a similar tone and weight and knew as soon as I tried my S6 oboe that it was the one for me.
O: Marigaux 901P – I like the many advantages of having a synthetic top joint and for me it was a naturally singing instrument.
How did you start playing or begin with music?
B: I have always enjoyed singing and was a chorister at St. Peter’s Church in Wolverhampton from when I was 8 years old until I moved to university at age 18. I took part in recorder lessons at school, then when I was 10 years old my grandad, a professional flautist and conductor of the West Midlands Concert Band, began to teach me the flute.
O: Whist growing up in Guernsey I began learning the piano and oboe. I later learnt the guitar and drums. I enjoyed performing different styles of music in various ensembles which led me to continue music as a career.
M: Like many wind players, I started playing the recorder at primary school and moved on to flute when I was 11. When the time came to play a second instrument, I chose the oboe and played both throughout school until switching to oboe full time in my second year of university.
What have you learnt from working at Howarth?
O: In my role at Howarth I am constantly learning. Whist on exhibitions I have been fortunate to meet, listen to and watch masterclasses from so many great oboe players around the globe. I am also hugely grateful for the knowledge, support and inspiration Suitbert Walter in Neuss has given me.
M: There were not many oboe players around me growing up. Starting work at Howarth really opened my eyes to the number of oboe and double reed players out there and the fantastic community that we all share.
B: I didn’t realise there were so many oboists in the U.K. before I started working here, and I’m fortunate to be able to meet and interact with so many of them. I also enjoy having the opportunity to try all of the different oboe models we stock here, along with the latest oboe-related products.
Where did you study? What did you enjoy most about studying there?
B: I studied my BMus degree at Canterbury Christ Church University, where I thoroughly enjoyed being a student in such a beautiful, historic city. I chose an open pathway for my MA degree, meaning the academic side of the course was taught at the University of Birmingham, and the instrumental at Birmingham Conservatoire. I appreciated the variety this course provided me, and I most enjoyed the range of ensembles I had the opportunity to perform with.
O: Royal College of Music, London
Favourite piece of music?
M: I wouldn’t say I have one favourite piece of music however at the moment I’ve been listening to a lot of symphonies on my commute and I’m returning to Mahler 1 and Sibelius 5 often. On the other side of things, I like to listen to the likes of London Grammar, Snarky Puppy and Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd etc. I’m also a sucker for anything that will get me on a dance floor!
O: Currently, Public Service Broadcasting – Spitfire
B: This is a difficult question, as I love musical theatre! I’d love to perform as an oboist in the West End one day, and my dream show to play in would be Les Miserables as the score is so excellent. I could probably list a hundred musicals I enjoy, but a few other musical soundtracks I often gravitate towards are South Pacific, Miss Saigon, and Hamilton.
O: Hearty slow cooked dishes
M: It’s very difficult to choose….. probably a well-cooked medium rare steak with peppercorn sauce accompanied by a glass of red wine and good company!
B: I am a dancer at SJ Dance, where I do jazz and ballet dancing. Before the pandemic, we performed onstage at Disneyland Paris, which was an amazing experience. Another hobby of mine is to go ‘treasure hunting’ in charity shops!
O: Cooking, walking and fishing
M: I’m currently learning French although I think it could be a long time before I can use it convincingly!
Best thing about living and working in London?
M: I really enjoy the culture and experiences that London can offer. I really enjoying having world class music, theatre and food on my doorstep.
Recommendation to do/see/eat in London
O: Pastaio near Carnaby Street for excellent pasta!
B: Depending on what you like to do, there are so many things to recommend doing whilst in London, although the obvious priority should be visiting the Howarth of London showrooms on Chiltern Street! We aren’t far from the West End, where there are some fantastic shows on at the moment, and if you like showtunes there is also a great piano bar in the Hippodrome Casino called Overtures. My favourite place to eat in Central London, is Jollibee in Leicester Square, which serves Filipino fast food.