Introducing our Annette, Oliver, our Strategic Project Development Manager, Miles, and our Mailorder Admin, Seve!
All based in our London Showrooms on Chiltern Street, but not usually found on shop floor, Annette, Oliver, Miles and Seve are busy being the scenes keeping the shop running efficiently and ensuring you receive all your mail order requirements.
They are all also active musicians with a wealth of experience and knowledge of their instruments and the company.
You can now read more about the instruments they play, what they have learnt in their time at Howarth and the best thing they find about working in London.
How long have you been working at Howarth?
Annette: A very long time!
Oliver: Over 30 years
Miles: Almost three years
Seve: Five months
What instrument do you play? And why did you choose it?
O: I sometimes play a Holton 178 French horn. I chose it, as it was the only one on offer (purchased from Les Lake – then bass trombonist at ENO – at the stage door of the Coliseum.) I didn’t get to take it on appro or test it at all. But it took me from Grade VI to my degree and a few adequate gigs before I quit in favour of a mortgage!
M: Bassoon. I had big hands, and my school needed a bassoonist, so it was a strong suggestion! I play on a Yamaha 812, one of the thicker wall models from the mid-nineties.
S: Alto Sax – Keilwerth SX90R
I remember going for it as I found it sat best under the fingers and I really liked the fact that it has a much darker quality to its sound compared to the other ones I tried. It’s also incredibly versatile as due to its larger bell, its capable of punching right through the room which is perfect for say a ‘pop/function’ situation whilst at the same time being able to produce a warm and delicate tone for when I find myself playing in a classical context.
A: I’m a clarinettist! I play Howarth clarinets and moved to these from my Buffet R13’s because it had a warmer richer sound. That said, my clarinets are now over 25 years old and getting a bit clanky and I am thinking about getting some new instruments. I really like the Yamaha CSG Clarinets, but also very tempted by Buffet Legende clarinets so, at the moment, I am not sure which will win.
How did you start playing or begin with music?
S: I grew up in a musical household, my dad is a percussionist and used to run his own Latin Jazz and Salsa band, my earliest musical memories are of listening to them rehearse and play. There was also an extensive collection of CDs and Tapes at home with music always playing at any given time – ranging from Jazz, Bossa Nova, Motown, Soul, Salsa as well as a lot of neo-soul from the 90s which my mum was into – D’Angelo and Erykah Badu were particular favourites.
I began playing the sax through my local music service when I was 7 – I only started it because I thought it looked nice and shiny – nothing else. I then picked up the clarinet a couple of years later after much pressure from my teacher. Little did I know that all of it would end up developing into what I do for a living (when I’m not here that is).
A: I was inspired to learn the clarinet when I started secondary school and realised that some people got out of school lessons because they had musical instrument lessons, which were always timetabled during the school day. I did my research and worked out which instruments were taught on which days, and then compared my lesson timetable and it seemed that clarinet lessons were on Tuesdays which clashed with French, English and Geography (no point in learning violin, viola, flute or cello – lessons for those were on Wednesday which was PE, Science and Maths and I quite liked those subjects). So, I instantly developed a passion for the clarinet without even knowing what it was. Fortunately, there was an instrument available, and group lessons and instrument hire were free, so clarinet it was!
M: We had a piano in the house and officially I started getting lessons at around 5 years old.
O: I started piano at five. My mother taught many children in and around Southwest London and a few adults too. Her mother had auditioned to Maggie Teyte in Paris as a soprano but marriage, family and then war put paid to furthering that career. There were piano(s) in our family home. For a short while there were three, sometimes two but mostly one (my great-grandmother’s beautiful Broadwood baby grand).
My father had won a piano prize at Sherborne. As a journalist around a shattered London in the early fifties he’d seen a good deal of opera (his second great love). Music was, as you read, in the family. My eldest brother played piano and quickly gave up, my second brother played piano and violin and gave up both. Both are now decent guitarists.
My parents were fans of Richard Wagner, so when I showed an aptitude for brass – Pam Wedgwood left her horn in our front room one evening and we all had a go, I think the idea of Siegfried’s horn call ringing down the street towards the common where be dragons meant that my instrument was chosen then and there. I began horn at seven, essaying the start of a long slow arc of improvement, enabling me to give up piano at 13. I went back to it later – but never really practiced. Instrumental “doodling” (my mother uses a rather different word) is no way to learn.
What have you learnt/interesting thing you have seen from working at Howarth?
A: The world is a big place – and what is considered the best sound/instrument/mouthpiece/reed/player in one region may be completely different in the next!
M: I have spent a decade as a consultant to businesses, so to be on the other side now and work at the business has been enlightening.
S: Even though I’ve only been here a short time, one thing that I have found quite interesting is the wide range of people that we deal with on a daily basis, not just from within the UK but also from all over the world. It definitely keeps you on your toes especially over in my department.
Where did you study? What did you enjoy most about studying there?
S: Trinity – pretty campus, good teachers and good links.
M: Queen’s College, Oxford University. The course was probably not as aligned with my interests as it might have been, but it was an amazing place to study, and I made wonderful friends for life.
Favourite piece of music?
M: Too difficult that! Shostakovich 7, Ravel’s La Valse or John Adams’ Harmonielehre. It changes every week or so!
O: Impossible question.
S: One song on my current rotation is a tune called ‘Bebe’ by Hermeto Pascoal – just listen to it and look out for the wacky vocal solo around the middle, you won’t be disappointed. Absolute scenes.
A: I have many, many favourites, and impossible to pick just one, but the Brahms Clarinet Quintet is pretty high up the list!
Favourite venue you have played in?
S: The Olympic Stadium – played at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics alongside the LSO. Definitely a unique experience which I won’t forget for the rest of my days.
M: The Royal Albert Hall was pretty epic!
O: Difficult question, Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall or perhaps the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg which is a most extraordinary venue.
A: At the moment it is Come From Away; the true story in music of a small isolated town whose population suddenly doubled when air space over US was closed for a few days after 9/11. A good story well told!
M: I’m not the biggest fan of musicals, but I love opera, so if we are including operas, Tosca or The Rake’s Progress.
O: No. Favourite opera? Now there’s a question. It’s the two Rs I think, and I don’t mean Ruddigore or Rienzi. Rigoletto and/or Rosenkavalier, though I do have a soft spot for the Flying Dutchman.
M: Truffles, preferably white
O: Roast pork, preferably as a Sunday roast with ALL the trimmings.
M: Boggle and squash! One day I hope to beat my wife… at Boggle!
O: Singing in the Philharmonia Chorus.
Best thing about living/working in London?
M: Food and cultural diversity
S: Having grown up and lived here my whole life, the best thing I can say about London is its unmatched diversity, not just with its people but also the sheer variety of things to do. There will always be something for someone regardless of who you are.
A: London is home. I have lived in West London my whole life; my parents were Londoners too. I miss the visitors to London that always needed directions or recommendations and London seems a much quieter place without them. Hopefully everyone will return to London soon and enjoy everything that it has to offer.
Recommendation to do/see/eat in London
A: Best restaurant for anyone visiting Howarth or the Marylebone area is the Anacapri in Dorset Street. Always guaranteed a warm welcome and the food is always excellent (particularly the fish!). Well worth a visit!
M: Postman’s park in the City is a lovely spot, and Le Gavroche in Mayfair is a real treat.