Notes from Europe: Jonathan Fischer, Principal Oboe

Notes from Europe: Jonathan Fischer, Principal Oboe

The Houston Symphony’s 2018 European Tour is underway! Get an insider’s view of the tour when Houston Symphony principal oboe Jonathan Fischer shares his experiences below.

Next stop, Essen!

After celebrating a terrific first concert in Brussels, we had an easy bus trip over to Essen, Germany, passing through a little corner of Holland on our way. Transporting the orchestra along with all of our belongings and instruments is surely one of the more complicated features of being on tour. Trunks with concert clothes and instruments are loaded out right after the concert and usually beat us to the next destination. The orchestra is using a combination of buses and charter flights, depending on the distance. I’m amazed how streamlined the process is, allowing the orchestra to slip into an easy routine on travel days. Our amazing staff works tirelessly to make everything as smooth as possible, and so far it seems like everything has gone off without a hitch!

An oboist’s work is never done…reed-making in progress.

We pulled into Essen on a grey afternoon and had the evening off to practice, relax and explore this mid-sized German city. As an oboist, reeds are a huge issue, and lots of my spare time is spent adjusting my reeds to each new location. The biggest factor affecting oboe reeds is elevation, and thankfully, on this tour we really aren’t playing in any high elevation locales. Still, small changes in humidity and temperature can mean big changes in how a double reed functions. The weather in Essen was a little dreary, so I settled into my room to make reeds. The hall in Essen was great and the orchestra played very well. In that clear acoustic, we could all hear each other very well, so it was easier to play with great precision. The audience was attentive and offered generous applause, so I think they enjoyed it!

The following day we arrived in Berlin on a Eurowings Charter flight. It was pouring rain all day, and with a concert that night, exploring was a little tough. I did manage to see the Reichstag but mostly I stayed in and…you guessed it, made reeds!

Being one of the great cultural cities of the world, playing in Berlin is always exciting. The hall there is gorgeous and acoustically beautiful. Traveling and performing on the same day is tough, but the orchestra played beautifully. After the show, there was another load out of the instrument and wardrobe trunks for the trip to Warsaw and a good night’s sleep for the orchestra.

On to Warsaw, Poland. When we get there, I think I will…make oboe reeds!

Learn more about the Houston Symphony’s 2018 European Tour here.

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