Leading 21st Century Oboist - Christopher Redgate discusses his first impressions of the second instrument made to the Redgate-Howarth Oboe design! The Redgate-Howarth Oboe has been custom made by Howarth of London, built with the 21st Century musician in mind, featuring multiphonic switch and the flexibility needed this contemporary repertoire. Howarth of London are internationally known as makers of the finest oboes, oboes d’amore, English horns and clarinets.
Chris Redgate describes the nuances of the Howarth-Redgate Oboe
Some Notes on Some New Notes
The re-design of the key-work on the oboe has been stimulated by changes in the use of some of the keys and in the demands being made upon the performer. As part of my performance practice during the last 35 years I have rethought the function of some of the key-work; altering the primary function of specific keys from their traditional use to a new uses (the traditional uses then becoming secondary). On some occasions reverting to practices more common in baroque and classical period performance. The octave keys, the holes in the touch plates, the function of a number of the side keys and the trill keys all, to a greater or lesser extent, have taken on multiple functions; in some case the original function of the keys has been superseded by the new function. Some of the keys on the traditional oboe however are poorly placed for their new activities, creating a range of physical and technical problems.
The ‘hamburger key’ (situated where the trill keys are normally found) has enabled me to answer some of these challenges while, at the same time, expanding the potential of the instrument. It has enabled us to effectively add an extra hole in an area of the instrument which is particularly responsive to the production of the extreme high range, (it is very close to both the second and the third octave keys): an area which also enables many microtones and multiphonics. Because we have placed the touch pieces at the side of the 2nd octave key (and in the process redesigned this key to accommodate ease of execution of these keys) we have increased the facility with which the high range can be played. The three new touch pieces are used extensively for the high range (B, C, C#, and D), a considerable number of microtones and, in addition, have added a substantial number of new multiphonics to the instrument. They have also enabled a number of short glissandi.
The top plate (left-hand first finger) has undergone two significant changes. A very small hole has been placed at the side of the main hole as an extra vent and a new switch has been added which enables a very high-speed change to the distance this key moves from the tone hole. As a result there are now four potential height positions for this key: closed, rolled, lifted finger and open (depending upon how you like this key set up the switch can be used in either direction). This enables a much wider range of multiphonics than is possible on the standard oboe without recourse to unscrewing the regulating screw in performance! In addition, because of the way the switch is activated it is possible to create a number of multiphonic slides by moving it slowly. This is the second design we have developed for a switch in this area. The first prototype oboe we produced included a screw system which, while enabling the changes, proved too slow in performance; the new switch is very fast.
There are two additional side keys for the right hand. We have removed the G# - A trill key and instead added a side Bb key (a key which existed on many older thumb-plate instruments). This key, as well as offering an A-Bb and high F-F# trill also enables a wide range of extra multiphonics and microtones.
Above this key is a B ¼# key (this is not available on the conservatoire model but B ¼# can be produced in several different ways on the instrument).
The microtonal work has been improved by drilling the holes on the A, G and E touch pieces precisely to ¼ sharp. In addition we have modified the F# key (top finger right hand) by adding a split plate. The reason for this rather more complex addition is that this key is used extensively for a range of double trills that I did not want to lose. Therefore we created a split plate whereby if the lower part is fingered the standard F# is produced but if the finger is placed only on the upper plate then F ¾# is played. This also enables a range of other microtonal fingerings in the upper register and a variety of multiphonics.
An extra bean has been added to the little key below the F# touch piece – this enables some micro tunings to a number of pitches.
We have also de-linked the Bb and B at the bottom of the instrument (left hand little finger). This removal of the enforced linkage has freed up the two keys so that they can be used independently of each other. As a result a wide range of multiphonics are available that were not possible on the standard oboe and it has generated a number of microtonal options. On some oboes there is also a B-C link but this has not been included on the new instrument as it also limits some possibilities.
Though available on some oboes we have added a long C# as standard and removed the banana C# trill key (played with 3rd finger right hand). The long C# is very useful not only as a trill key but also for a number of multiphonics and microtones.
On the thumb-plate version of the instrument we have re-sited the third octave key, placing it on the right-hand side of the first octave key. This enables the performer to roll the thumb on to the key rather than having to pinch backwards: a much more ergonomic position for the key. The octave keys are often used in fine microtonal tunings and so ease of execution for this key was very important.
The instruments are made of cocobolo wood that is less dense than the traditional Grenadilla wood (meaning that this oboe with its extra keys comes in at about the same weight as the standard Howarth XL) but also is particularly responsive to the demands of contemporary music.
A few statistics: There are now good quartertone and eighthtone scales from bottom D to the very top C ¼ #; I am also now developing a third/sixthtone scale.
On my standard instrument I have a catalogue of 833 multiphonics; on the new instrument I have currently 2548 multiphonics.
There are now fingerings up to top C that can be used without recourse to the teeth. There is also a C# and D fingering which require teeth.
The read more about Christopher Redgate, visit his website www.christopherredgate.co.uk
Visit the Howarth of London Website
Howarth of London Workshop
A new departure for Howarth of London’s Manufacturing Division – we set up stall at the Sussex County Show in Parham over the weekend of 16th – 17th June. The rain stayed away, and we had a gorgeous warm sunny day on the Sunday especially. As ever people are fascinated to know about the mysteries of making a musical instrument. Mike Dadson, one of our top professional finishers, brought his bench and tools, and we set up a photo display with assorted components for people to handle.
As so often, many people quietly admit they wish they had never given up playing an instrument, so these occasions always provide good opportunity to demonstrate that it’s not that hard, even for a complete beginner to play an easy tune on a wind instrument with careful instruction. Laura King from our Worthing showrooms spent much of her time giving people the chance to try an instrument for themselves, and watching the astonished faces as they realised they could play an easy tune quite quickly! Others didn’t know we had the workshops and showroom in Worthing, so it’s good just to get our name out to the as yet uninitiated!
And one lucky person, P. Meed, was the winner of our Chiltern Sax Prize Draw….. Photographs of the winner receiving their prize to follow!
Picking the winner!
Mrs Pat Meed, the winner of the Chiltern Sax from the Sussex County Show Prize Draw, collecting her prize!
The LMH programming, in association with Howarth of London begins in July 2012 with a series of
SUMMER HOLIDAY MUSIC COURSES in Essex and London.
The woodwind and brass courses are for young people and adults, offering a vibrant and accessible approach to a wide variety of music styles. The courses will work with a range of stimulating scores to nurture an increased understanding of notation, and improve aural awareness through improvisation.
In September 2012 LIVE MUSIC HORIZONS will be touring Primary Schools in London and Essex with their CONCERT PARTY project.
CONCERT PARTY are four professional musicians who bring LIVE music performances to schools, aiming to encourage a lifelong interest in music making and listening. The concerts educate and entertain students in a lively accessible atmosphere, introducing a wide variety of instruments and musical styles.
SUMMER HOLIDAY MUSIC COURSES 2012
The LMH summer holiday music courses are programmed for the last week in July 2012. Venues are in Essex (near Chelmsford) and London (near Camden Town). The courses are in association with the woodwind specialist shop Howarth of London.
For dates and prices click here
The courses will work with a range of stimulating scores, nurturing an increased understanding of notation, alongside aural awareness through improvisation.
LMH courses include:
Small classical and jazz ensembles
LMH course content includes:
Each course will culminate in an informal presentation to family and friends. There are opportunities for all ages and abilities, with a specific day in London designated for adult learners.
For course bookings and further information click here
CONCERT PARTY are four professional freelance musicians who bring LIVE music to Junior Schools
CONCERT PARTY focus on creating a joyful musical experience, encouraging a lifelong interest in music making and listening
CONCERT PARTY offer programmes to meet the specific need of each school, including children with special needs and English as a second language
CONCERT PARTY educate AND entertain students in a lively, accessible atmosphere
CONCERT PARTY can interest and enthrall an age range from 5 to 11 years old
Concerts introduce a wide variety of acoustic instruments and musical styles
Rhythm Tonic Solfa
Melody Aural Skills
Musical Games Ensemble Work
These four musicians are all experienced and talented performers as well as being committed and enthusiastic teachers. They all research, arrange and compose for the CONCERT PARTY projects.
For booking the group and further information
Catherine: 07930 112245
Fiona: 07753 505475
If you would like to get involved follow this link!
“LIVE MUSIC HORIZONS”, a new education company, dedicated to providing inspirational rehearsal and performance opportunities for all ages, with sponsorship from the woodwind specialist shop Howarth of London – Woodwind Specialists
‘Howarth of London’ in association with Live Music Horizons are providing opportunities to facilitate the events provided, offering special offers, specialist advice/guidance for event attendees. Howarth of London shall be supplying instruments for attendees to try, including their own range of ‘Chiltern Saxophones’, offering a 10% discount on accessories and selected instruments*
Find out more about Chiltern Saxophones
Howarth of London are internationally known as makers of the finest oboes, oboes d’amore, English horns and clarinets. Alongside their role as makers, they are one of the world’s leading suppliers of oboes, bassoons, clarinets and saxophones. The London showrooms are a bustling meeting point for players, and offer a comprehensive range of accessories and woodwind sheet music.
The staff are all players, and can help you however long you have been playing - or even if you haven’t started yet! Experienced technicians in the workshops on the premises can undertake repairs and custom modifications to customers’ instruments.
Howarth of London offers a varied selection of services:
With the ‘Howarth of London’ Approval Scheme you have the chance to trial products before you commit to purchase.
Instruments & mouthpieces - One Week Trial Period
With our ‘Approval Scheme’ you can be sure you have selected the instrument most suitable for you. This is a great way of getting to know what’s avaliable!
All new instruments purchased through Howarth of London come with a one year warranty.
The Howarth rental scheme helps you try an instrument at low cost. Pay for the first 3 months in advance, then monthly by direct debit. To finish renting, simply return the instrument at any time and pay nothing further. If you then wish to purchase an instrument, we take the initial 3 month introductory payment off the price of an instrument.
Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme allows students of state schools to buy instruments without having to pay V.A.T. (20%). Having chosen the instrument you wish to buy from our large range and with the benefit of expert advice, you can ask your child’s LEA (Local Education Authority), school or Music Centre to order it on your behalf
You can use Take it away to borrow between £100 and £5,000 towards the costs of your chosen instrument, and you can also include music stands, sheet music and other accessories within the loan.
You will need to pay a minimum 10% of the loan amount at the point of The rest is then paid back over 9 months (for goods of £100 - £2,000) or 18 months (for goods of £800 - £5,000) in equal installments by direct debit. There is no administrative charge or handling fee when you take out the loan, so you will never be paying more for your purchase than the ticket price.
Applicants must be:
- EITHER over 18 years of age and buying an instrument for a child under the age of 18.
- OR aged 18-25 years and applying in their own right.
Nigel Clark, Howarth of London sales director says: “This is a great opportunity for players who didn’t think they could afford it to choose the instrument they really want and ‘Take it away’.”
For more information
For more information about Howarth of London please find us at
Leading these exciting courses are two versatile musicians, Catherine Shrubshall and Fiona Baines. Catherine and Fiona have worked as professional musicians and educators for over 30 years, including outreach work for the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Glyndebourne Opera, and the Guildhall School of Music.
Catherine is an experienced performer and educationalist working in a wide variety of styles. Her performing credits include: The Royal National Theatre, Rambert dance Company and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, as well as numerous recording credits for: BBC, ITV, Radio 4, Classic FM, Decca and Acid Jazz.
Steven Dagg, Director of London’s Centre for Young Musicians describes Catherine as “one of the most talented teachers I have had the privilege to work with and a wonderful musician in her own right. Catherine has contributed hugely to CYM’s outreach programme featuring the CYM saxophone ensemble in prestigious venues all over the capital”.
In recognition of her contribution to the music profession Catherine was awarded funding for professional development from the Musicians Benevolent Fund in 2011.
Fiona Hill BA (hons) LGSM.LTCL.ATCL
Fiona is a highly respected and accomplished freelance musician who enjoys a varied career, equally at home conducting or coaching, teaching or performing. She is highly committed to training younger musicians and has worked for Essex Music Service for over 30 years. Fiona has broadcast with her saxophone quartet Saxology on Radio 3 and Classic fm. She is described by her students as “amazingly effective, organised, motivated and enthusiastic”.
Other team members include…
At the age of ten, Fiona Baines discovered the joy of singing after joining her local parish choir at All Saints Church in Nottingham. Six years later, she took up formal vocal training with Lynne Wayman whilst studying music at Clarendon College in Nottingham.
In 1984, Fiona graduated with a degree in Performing Arts from Middlesex University. While at university, she discovered her talent for interpreting contemporary classical music. She was very fortunate to have been able to work with some of the emerging composers of the time (Howard Haigh, Ian Wilcock, Errolyn Wallen) with whom she premiered their work. Remaining in London, she continued to have a varied and eclectic career with live composers focusing mainly on performing contemporary music as a member of various groups and as a soloist.
Peter has worked as a professional musician in and around London for over 25 years, performing in the West End and on numerous recordings. As a teacher he is currently working for Camden Music Services and at the Centre of Young Musicians, where he conducts the CYM Dance Band. He regularly takes the advanced flute classes at the City Literary Institute and leads sectionals for the London Youth Wind Band. As a composer he has co-written music theatre for adults and children (book, lyrics and music) incl. ‘Around the Pond in 80 Days’ (published by Samuel French.
Denis Hill G.Mus LGSM LTCL
After graduating from Colchester Institute, further study led to licentiate diplomas in saxophone performance and teaching from Trinity College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama respectively.
A freelance musician, Denis has enjoyed a varied musical career to date as an educationalist and performer. He has worked on projects with the National Youth Music Theatre and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields as well as numerous summer schools.
Denis is a founder member of the ‘Saxology’ saxophone quartet and has performed extensively in the UK and abroad with the ensemble, recordings undertaken with ASV and Meridian Records.
A busy woodwind teacher, he is the local representative for the Trinity Guildhall exam board and has been an examiner panel member since 2005, recent training also leading to qualification as an assessor for the new Trinity Rock and Pop exams.
The life of an oboe begins 200 years before a Howarth craftsman starts their work. Read about the journey that is made to manufacture what is accepted as one of the finest oboes in the world.
- Howarth of London
Click on the title for the main article!
Music can say a lot about your school. Today, many more schools are benefiting from the transformational power that music brings to pupils, parents and whole schools.
This booklet highlights ten important musical facts that every school leader should know.
Music should be an entitlement for every child, an integral part of school life and never side-lined as just a ‘nice to have’ subject.
Howarth of London shall be at the BDRS Annual Conference 2012 on 6th May in Cardiff, Wales
We shall have a large amount of new stock for the exhibition including:
and the brand new
Buffet Orfeo Oboe
And of course our full selection of
We will also have an amazing 8000 series Heckel on our stand.
We also have some new accessories for you to see, including our new
We will have a skilled oboe and bassoon technician on our stand who is available to carry out minor repairs and advice on the day.
FREE ENTRY for school and college students
John Anderson - Oboe
Lyndon Watts - Bassoon
Karl Jenkins shall be conducting some of his pieces for double reed orchestra at the Mass Play-in. This promises to be an amazing experience
It is important to book your place by completing an application form, please visit the BDRS website for ticket prices!
Places are limited for oboe and bassoon masterclasses and an early response is advised.
BDRS Web: www.bdrs.org.uk
Click on each artical for more details:
New sheet music in stock:
The new edition of Ferling’s 48 studies Op.31 (urtext edition) edited by Howarth Artist and IDRS president Martin Schuring is now in stock and available to buy! This edition is clearly laid out and after close referral to the original work, many errors that appeared in other editions have been corrected.
The Essential Oboist by John Williams. ‘A concise approach to daily practice’ Has been a popular book amongst teachers and student since its creation in 1985. Sadly the book is now out of print, but Howarth have secured the entire remaining stock, available in our London store and online.
World of Warcraft - You’ve played the game, now play the music. All the popular themes from the game arranged for flute (suitable for Oboe) and trombone (suitable for bassoon) accompanied by CD backing tracks. Ideal for intermediate standard players
‘The Bassoon’ by James Kopp. The latest in the Yale University Music Series, the bassoon gets its turn in this highly anticipated book covering the history and a wealth of other information about the instrument. Due to be £30 when released in June, pre-order now to get the book for £25.
Look out for details in the next couple of weeks of our special spring offers on ex demo bassoons.
020 7935 2407