Ennio Morricone is certainly among the most celebrated composers of film music with over 500 scores written for cinema and television. While his may not be a household name, it is likely you’ve heard his work in such movies as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, Cinema Paradiso, In The Line of Fire, The Untouchables, The Hateful Eight, and, of course, The Mission. While he’s worked on over 70 award-winning films, The Mission remains one of his most highly acclaimed soundtracks with an Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, and a BAFTA Award for Best Music.
The entire soundtrack is an amazing and lyrical blend of orchestral and choral melodies, native drums, and Spanish-influenced guitar, but Gabriel’s Oboe stands out as a truly unforgettable piece that can live on its own. In fact, it is has been arranged, recorded, and performed several times, most notably by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
The Parker Symphony Orchestra will be performing Gabriel’s Oboe in its original instrumentation on Friday with our very own Cheryl Poules playing the beautiful melody on the oboe. Cheryl has been with the PSO as principal oboe for 11 years. She holds a degree in Music Education from Grove City College and Piano pedagogy from Dana School of music. She also plays oboe and English Horn with the Lone Tree Symphony and Denver Concert Band and is the principal oboe with the Mountain Winds Quartet.
I recently had the chance to interview Cheryl and ask her more about music, her career, and playing Gabriel’s Oboe.
How did you get your start in music and with the oboe?
I started on the clarinet in 5th grade band and oboe in 7th grade. I chose oboe because my band director was an oboist and an inspiration.
What are your favorite pieces to play?
I play and teach both piano and oboe and there are so many pieces I enjoy playing that I don’t think I could pin it down to just one piece. I especially enjoy playing with my quintet, The Mountain Winds…because intonation and dynamics are rarely a problem and we blend well to create very musical performances.
What do you enjoy most about playing Gabriel’s Oboe?
It’s a beautiful piece that lends itself to my best abilities as an oboist. The slow tempo and passionate melodic line coupled with the lyrical tone makes it a memorable piece. I was interested to learn that this piece has been rewritten for almost every musical instrument, the most famous not being an oboist, but Yo Yo Ma on the cello.
Who is your favorite composer and/or your favorite artist?
Again, I don’t have a favorite, I love all kinds of music which is why I dedicated my life to music when I was twelve years old and spent most of my life teaching music and performing. I am probably most fond of the Romantic Period. When I lived near Philadelphia we had season tickets to their orchestral performances and they were always exciting. We’ve enjoyed NY Phil performances at Vail several summers as well. Last year’s Tchaikovsky 6th Symphony was exhilarating.
Do you have a fond musical memory you could share?
When I was in college I performed with Louis Lane (Atlanta Symphony) and Howard Hanson (Eastman School of Music). As principal oboe of the Harrisburg Symphony, we had a concert with Aaron Copland conducting and he was a wonderful person to meet and play for. With the Delaware Symphony, we performed the Brahms Violin concerto with Eugene Fodor which has a wonderful oboe/violin duet in the piece.
Is there a piece you haven’t played that you would like the chance to perform at some point?
On oboe, I’d love to play Tchaikovsky’s 4th symphony again or his tone poem Hamlet, both of which have lovely oboe solos. I also enjoy playing the English Horn and my two favorites are Russian Christmas Music and, of course, Dvorak’s 9th with the famous English Horn solo.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Most of my proudest accomplishments have involved music. There have been numerous performances that I’ve enjoyed participating in. As a teacher of all areas of music from K-12th grade, I enjoyed directing musicals and watching my students evolve into life long musicians. I am saddened that music programs have been eliminated in so many schools as I’ve seen children really find themselves through participation in music programs. Yet I am glad to have had the opportunity to make a difference in so many children’s lives. I founded and developed the Douglas County Youth Orchestra and continue to find musical outlets for my talents.
What else do you love about playing the oboe?
The oboe is a difficult instrument to play and to maintain. I spend about 1/3 of my time making or working on reeds before I even play a note. But I wouldn’t trade it for any other instrument. When I play, I sometimes feel as if I’m sharing my soul, and love the opportunity. I hope that I can continue for years to come.
Be sure to join us for PSO Goes To the Movies at the PACE Center in Parker, CO on Friday February 26 at 7:30 PM to see Cheryl’s performance of Gabriel’s Oboe.