Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Newsletter
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The Art of the Reed
By Jennifer Corning Lucio, Principal Oboe

How many oboists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but they may have to try 40 bulbs before they find the one that works!

To play consistently at a professional level, double reed players painstakingly make their own reeds - indeed, oboists and bassoonists spend as many hours hunched over our reed desks as we do practicing. Due to numerous variables, we must make MANY reeds to get ONE that truly sings. As the principal oboist of the FWSO, I rush home after concerts to craft more reeds, since the one I used that night may not work tomorrow.  With the responsibility of tuning the orchestra and playing solos, I am constantly walking a tightrope. The fragile complexity of the double reed affects every aspect of playing.  An oboe reed has the shortest lifespan of the double reeds at only about eight hours - not a cost-effective business model!  

To make an oboe reed, start with bamboo-like tube cane, usually from the Var region of France and costing around $160/lb (roughly a gallon baggie).  Sort out and discard the pieces that are crooked, soft, or the wrong diameter.  In general, only 20% of the cane makes it past this point in the process. Split the remaining cane, chop it with a tiny guillotine, and plane it flat. Then use a $2500 hand tool to gouge a curve on the inside.  A deviation of only 0.01mm will change the reed dramatically. Shape the sides with another costly tool and tie the cane onto a silver tube that fits into the oboe itself.  Now you have a BLANK, but it won’t play a note yet!

Next, create a razor edge on your reed knife using several sharpening stones, starting with one covered in diamond dust and eventually finishing with one made of smooth ceramic!  Finally, scrape the tip, heart (center) and back of both blades of the reed until perfectly balanced. Bravely gamble with your musical voice; a final, infinitesimal scrape can bring you to the edge of perfection or make the reed unplayable.  All in all, fewer than one out of ten finished oboe reeds is worthy of the Bass Hall stage.

Next time you hear the oboe play the tuning A, know that I crafted my reed just for you.  As the other instruments join in, they add their own stories of sacrifice for this great art of music.  Thank you for your support of the FWSO! 

Meet a Musician
Pam Adams, Flute and Piccolo
Dallas, Texas

Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music in Flute Performance; University of North Texas

How old were you when you started playing your instrument? 
I began playing the flute in 6th grade band at the age of eleven.  I was the oldest of five children and my dad, a very pragmatic engineer, told me to play "something small, that you can carry, that doesn't make much noise" so I chose the flute! I added piccolo well into my professional life while playing in the FWSO.  Piccolo is like the cherry on top of an ice cream sundae - a sparkling splash of tonal color. 

On our next wedding anniversary, my husband, Robert, and I will have been married 40 years! That's a loooooooooong time.  We have three adult children and, together, the five of us have 9 music degrees. Jacquelyn Adams is the French horn professor at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.  Paula Adams is an Autism intervention specialist living in Colorado Springs and our son, Michael, is currently singing opera in Berlin, Germany. Of course, we can't forget Nacho, our much-loved Bichon (named after Jack Black in Nacho Libre) who is an avid music listener as well!       

In a few words or sentences, how would you describe yourself? 
Creative problem solver, energetic, project person, consistent

Fun fact 
I love to drive our red Smart Car convertible and our latest project is refurbishing an inherited 1969 Airstream trailer.

Pam Adams is pictured above with her son, Michael.
Fort Worth Symphony Live
CD Recording Projects

Many of you may know that we made two CD recordings last year from live concert performances at Bass Hall, including Prokofiev Piano Concertos 2 and 5 with artistic partner and soloist Vadym Kholodenko, plus Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra and Schoenberg's orchestration of the Brahms G Minor Piano Quartet.  We are very proud that these recordings have received critical acclaim and that they are now available for purchase from and iTunes.  

The Lutoslawski and Brahms can be found here, on iTunes and
The Prokofiev Piano Concertos can be found here, on iTunes and

You can listen to broadcasts of other FWSO performances on Monday nights at 8pm on WRR 101.1 fm. More information can be found here.
Audience Spotlight
Ron DeFord

Some of you may recognize Ron DeFord, a faithful member of our audience who is recognizable for his vibrant Hawaiian shirts, full beard and big smile!  Many of us began noticing his enthusiastic presence at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition years ago, and now we are pleased he travels all the way from Austin for our  symphonic concerts!  Here he is dressed up in his traditional December attire! 

It seems you faithfully attend all of the concerto rounds of the Cliburn competition, when the FWSO accompanies the finalists! Is piano repertoire your favorite type of music? 
Absolutely!  That is what got me hooked on classical music in Fort Worth.  My mother attended the Cliburn concerts and competition for many years and teased me into it 25 years or so ago.  I started coming from Austin as much as I could and made more and more performances as time went on, including a few FWSO concerts after her husband passed.  When I retired in 2000, I was able to come to all the Cliburn concerts and competitions and plan to do so in the future also.  That got me hooked on the FWSO!  So now my partner and I drive back and forth from Austin for all these concerts AND LOVE IT!!

How long have you been attending Fort Worth Symphony concerts?  And are you a subscriber?
I have been subscribing to the FWSO for about 6 years or so.  I started by buying individual tickets for a few years then just bought the entire package as we were coming to most of the concerts anyway.
What are the biggest changes to the Fort Worth Symphony since you began attending our concerts?
I think it is not the changes but the consistency of the quality of the programming and the sound of the orchestra that I am more and more aware of as I learn more about how to listen to both the music and the featured soloists.  The Prokofiev project with Vadym Kholodenko is a great example of what the orchestra can do as a long-range project.
Is there a piece that you haven't heard us play that you would really like to be programmed?  Or a favorite piece that you would love to hear us play again?
Of late, I have been listening to Louis Moreau Gottschalk, one of the great American composers of the mid-nineteenth century.  His catalogue is piano-heavy but there are some fabulous orchestral pieces that I think everyone would enjoy.  I think Maestro Miguel would be intrigued by his Carribbean compositions. 

Ron DeFord was interviewed by violinist Kathryn Perry.
Photo Credit: Ron DeFord

Have you gotten your T-shirt yet? These shirts were beautifully designed by our principal violist Laura Bruton. They are $20 each, adult sizes S-3X, and can be purchased online by emailing orders to us at We are now also selling yard signs with the same design for $10 each.

T-shirts and yard signs will also be for sale at select venues, so stay tuned to our Facebook page to find out when and where we'll be!

Pictured left are Seth McConnell, timpani, and Keira Fullerton, cello. Right, violist Aleksandra Holowka stands behind a yard sign with her daughter, Ella, and neighbors, violist Dan Sigale and Samson. 
Harmony in the Kitchen 

This recipe is from principal violist Laura Bruton. 
Dr Pepper™ Pulled Pork
Serves 5 - 6

4 - 4½ lbs pork shoulder (cut in half if necessary)
2 yellow onions
1½ T. paprika
2 T. garlic powder
1 T. kosher salt, or to taste
2 t. freshly ground pepper
½ t. ground cinnamon
12 oz can of Dr Pepper™
½ c. barbecue sauce (to taste)

Combine paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix together. Rub the outside of the pork shoulder with dry ingredients. Peel and slice onions and place in slow cooker. Add pork shoulder to slow cooker on top of onions. Pour in the Dr Pepper™ and cook on low heat for 7 hours.

Shred pork with a fork and then let it finish cooking in its juices for an additional 30 minutes. Add additional ½ c. barbecue sauce if desired. Serve on a bun and enjoy!
Thank you to the many additional musicians who performed with us this month! 
Copyright © 2016 Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony, All rights reserved.

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