The oboe is responsible for tuning the whole orchestra at each concert. While it looks a lot like a clarinet, it sounds very different because of the double reed and the slim shape of the instrument. A double reed is two pieces of wood tied together but with enough space in between them that you can blow air through the gap, causing a column of air to vibrate through the instrument. Typically, oboists make their own reeds using cane, cork and thread. Another member of the oboe family is called the English horn. It is longer and can play lower.
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Julie Gramolini Williams
Acting Associate Principal Oboe
Marni J. Hougham
Oboe and English Horn, John Gilman Ordway Chair
Julie Gramolini Williams joined the Minnesota Orchestra in September 2007 after two seasons as a member of the Omaha Symphony. She previously held the principal oboe post with the United States Air Force Band of the West, stationed in San Antonio, Texas. During her enlistment, she was a soloist with the concert band, and she performed and toured with the Southwest Winds Woodwind Quintet.
The New York Times praised for her February 2014 performances with the Minnesota Orchestra, reporting, “Julie Gramolini Williams needs to be singled out for her excellent oboe solos in both the Strauss [Don Juan] and the Beethoven [Symphony 3] in both concerts.” In 2016, she was the solo oboist for the Orchestra's performances of Martin's Concerto for Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion and String Orchestra.
Marni J. Hougham joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1997, taking the John Gilman Ordway Chair for English horn. In 2011 and 2006 she was featured in performances of Sibelius’ The Swan of Tuonela, both times under the baton of Osmo Vänskä; she performed and recorded the work with the Orchestra earlier under Eiji Oue. In October 2008 she was a soloist in performances of Copland’s Quiet City under the direction of Sarah Hicks.