G iven that I’ve earned a living as a composer for several decades, it’s still difficult to explain how this came about. I remember my musical education being very patchy, including almost no specific composition tuition. I recall piles of harmony exercises and fugues at college, and my too-sketchy abilities on piano and organ.

So how did music become my lifetime job? I now realise it was thanks to the oboe, which I began learning at age 11. I began borrowing ‘the school oboe’, followed later by lessons with a great musician and oboist, Robin Miller. Then came performing in bands and orchestras, and, despite the unavoidably baroque atmosphere of the oboe, playing improv and even jazz. For such a polite instrument, it demanded workmanlike skills such as carpentry (making the reeds) mechanics (caring for the tiny keywork) and even the occasional bit of soldering.

Judith Weir, Oboe Concerto, ASO, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Judith Weir. Photo © Benjamin Ealovega

So when Adelaide Symphony Orchestra principal Celia Craig asked had I ever thought of writing an oboe concerto, I didn’t treat it as I usually do commission requests, doubtfully asking myself,...

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