How Monica Huggett Changed My Life: A Tale in 3 Chapters

May 3, 2019

Chapter 1: San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 1986


I was a first year student on track for a life in symphony orchestras, but I loved baroque music, especially Bach. I had heard recordings of baroque oboes but I didn't quite fall for them. Then my friend the harpsichord student played me a cassette of Trio Sonnerie performing Couperin. My mind fairly exploded. It wasn't simply discovering a nice record. It was an entire musical world that opened up when I heard violinist Monica Huggett play French music. As it happens, I was playing some Couperin at school, but ours was stiff and belabored, while theirs was all elegance and grace, the ornaments rolling off the phrases without getting in their way. I knew then that I had to play this music a lot, that it would never happen in symphony orchestras, and that my modern oboe could never do that. I had to give up the keys. In the next two years I quit school because I won a full time orchestra job, taught myself baroque oboe on the side, quit the orchestra to focus on baroque oboe, (wait, you did what?!?!) took some courses in the US and Europe, and started playing with various groups on the West Coast, among them the Portland Baroque Orchestra, which was then thinking about hiring a music director for the first time.

Chapter 2: Portland, OR, 1990's

 

In my first two seasons with the orchestra the decision solidified and the list of candidates whom we had worked with and wanted to hire was down to two. One of them, Monica, was the only choice for me and I was proud to cast the deciding vote for her to become PBO's Music Director! (of course every musician who voted for her in that close call can say the same, but...) Over the next twenty five seasons I played hundreds of concerts with Monica, not only in Oregon but also in England, Spain, Canada, New York, even Montana, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few. We made a bunch of recordings, and got a Grammy nomination (for the recording pictured to the right) along the way. She was my boss, my teacher, my colleague, and then my friend. Trying to keep up with her natural musicality, ferocious technique, and relentless standards was my baroque oboe school, and the fact that she can't play a note on an oboe didn't seem to matter. If in those years I went from being a solid oboist to a recognized soloist, it is largely because she would not stop throwing concertos at me and I had to keep up!
 

Chapter 3: The Juilliard School, New York City, 2005

 

I had just moved from the Bay Area to Boston and my career was in transition. I had by then settled into a nice freelance career, working with groups across America and Europe, but still largely focused on West Coast work. I needed to shift the balance eastward. Then I heard through a colleague that Juilliard was going to be starting a Historical Performance program and were casting about for someone to direct it. Of course I suggested Monica, and when she was chosen, she picked me to teach oboe in the new department. Once again, Monica changed my life. I started teaching, moved to NYC, started House of Time, married Tatiana, we had baby Sofia, and now here we are, eagerly awaiting the arrival of our illustrious guest, Monica Huggett! As you can see, this concert has a long back story, so we hope to see you there to celebrate music and friendship! 

 

For tickets for our concerts with Monica Huggett on May 17th and 18th, visit our website at www.houseoftimemusic.org or call (917) 740-9694

 

 

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