Castor & Pollux Day 7

What are other members of the Castor & Pollux team outside of the rehearsal room up to? Simon Rickard (bassoonist extraordinaire) gives a little insight into his preparations...

As a double reed player, you know it’s Pinchgut time again when you find yourself in a frenzy of reed making. Reeds are the life and soul of o

boes and bassoons. Not only do they generate the buzzing sound that drives our instruments, they act as the interface between us and our instruments. When we have a good reed it feels like we can walk on air. Every note is a joy to play. When we have a bad reed, our instruments won’t do anything we want them to. And, I’m reliably informed, we can be a bit difficult to live with. So it pays to have plenty of reeds on hand with an opera season looming.

Using all manner of chisels, knives and sharp objects we transform lengths of Arundo donax cane into highly specialised mouthpieces. This job is both excruciatingly boring and totally obsessive at the same time. At least there is a sense of camaraderie in it. Even without talking to them, I know that my double reed colleagues - oboists Kirsten and Owen and my bassoonist pal Lisa - are also spending hours hunched over a table hacking away at pieces of cane, just like I am. When we finally get together to play Castor & Pollux in the orchestra pit, all this irritation will be forgotten and we can simply enjoy each other’s playing.