Chicago Philharmonic Oboist Anne Bach

Chi Phil Chats with Anne Bach

Oboist Anne Bach leads a very busy musical life. Aside from performing with the Chicago Philharmonic, she has played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera as well as at numerous area festivals. Anne currently holds the second oboe position in Chicago’s Grant Park Orchestra. Check out what she had to say about reeds, reading, and cowboy songs.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I’m from just outside Rochester, NY.

Q: What inspired you to become a musician?
My folks were both musicians and started me on Suzuki violin when I was 3 – I can’t say I liked the violin much, but I did like playing music, and 6 years later I got to drop it when I started oboe. It was like solving puzzles and singing at the same time; it still feels like that to me.

Q: What music are you listening to these days?
If I’m in the car or making reeds, I opt for podcasts. I particularly like Snap Judgement (storytelling) and Radiolab (science). Unless my kids are in the car, in which case I listen to the jazz station or the Frozen soundtrack.

Q: If you could play any other instrument, what would it be?
A: Guitar or mandolin – something I could play at a campfire! No one at parties asks for me to whip out the oboe, but I’m romantic enough to think people might sing along if I played some cowboy songs. And you can smile when you play those, unlike the oboe.

Q: What are the stereotypes about oboists? Do you think they’re true?
A: We are complex souls. Even if we didn’t start out that way, dealing with reeds is inherently fussy and imperfect. We come by our neurosis honestly. If there is a Type B oboist, I have yet to meet them.

Q: What practice tips would you give to someone trying to learn the oboe?
A: Less reed, more air. And find a good source for reeds!

Q: What was your most interesting class in music school?
A: Art history! It’s all related.

Q: What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
A: At 5am every morning I am on the floor reading picture books and serving snacks in a plastic cup. 11 years ago I got certified in teaching Pilates. Also I don’t like bacon.

Q: What is your favorite book?
A: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. I also love Murakami.