Aug 05, 2020
Mingjia Liu, principal oboist of the San Francisco Opera, teaches technique and imagery during his workshop at the 21st Annual Double Reed Day hosted by Fresno State’s Department of Music on Feb. 3, 2018. (Alejandro Soto/The Collegian)

Fresno State’s annual ‘Double Reed Day’ brings musical talent

Renowned musicians Minjia Liu and Rufus Olivier Jr. visited Fresno State on Saturday for the 21st annual Double Reed Day.

“Double Reed” refers to double-reed instruments, such as the “oboe” and the “bassoon.” The musical event included sessions for the oboe and bassoon and master classes taught by Liu and Olivier. The day’s final event featured performances by the musicians.

Liu played the oboe, and Olivier played the bassoon. Some pieces also featured the piano played by Fresno State music lecturer Lenore Hiebert. At times, Liu and Olivier played separately and then together.

“I feel like with these two performers (Liu and Olivier), they definitely put their own spin to it and really articulated their expression for this music,” said Corey Howman, an attendee.

Liu became part of the San Francisco Opera in 2010 as a principal oboe player. He has also played with the San Francisco Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the China National Symphony Orchestra.

Olivier is the principal bassoonist for the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Ballet.

“To hear things played at such a high caliber, I think it really does inspire a lot of us to want to get to that level,” said Jeffrey Wasik, a graduate student at California State University, Long Beach.

This year’s event was coordinated by Rachel Aldrich and Larry Gardner, who are both lecturers in the Fresno State music department.

“We get lots of nice letters every year about how inspiring it [Double Reed Day] is,” Aldrich said. “The guest artists are so wonderful that people who come to hear them perform – it really inspires them.”

A double-reed ensemble conducted by Steve McKeithen, Fresno State associate director of bands, followed Liu’s and Olivier’s performances.

Wasik said he liked Olivier’s “confidence in playing and his teaching technique. The way he approaches helping his students – it’s not aggressive. It’s very helpful.”

Jamie Hellwig, a freshman at California State University Long Beach majoring in music education, also worked with Olivier during the day.

“I like his warm personality, and I like the way he plays – his styling choices and his musicality,” Hellwig said.

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