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Masterclass: Oboist Frank Rosenwein Talks Powdered Wigs and Finding Your Spark

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Watch a masterclass from the Principal Oboist of The Cleveland Orchestra for his insights on everything from Mozart to trusting in your voice.

July 20, 2022 by Alex Heigl

By Alex Heigl

When in doubt, just think of the powdered wigs.

With a seamless blend of advice like the line above and guidance on specific note articulations, Frank Rosenwein’s oboe masterclass for SFCM oboe faculty Eugene Izotov and Russ deLuna’s studios yielded a wide range of takeaways. Rosenwein joined The Cleveland Orchestra for their 2005–06 season and made his solo debut with them a year later in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2. Rosenwein’s visit to SFCM was a return to the West Coast: Prior to coming to Cleveland, he served as principal oboe of the San Diego Symphony and San Diego Opera from 2002 to 2005.

His advice touched on both the finer and broader points of music. He encouraged students to be “adventuresome,” adding, “What’s written can be a good starting point but depending on what flavor you want to give this, you can mess around,” but also specific articulation points from the Mozart at hand.

As for a top-down view of how to play Mozart, Rosenwein quipped, “Think of the powdered wigs and the mannered steps and I think you’ll find a little bit more restraint.”

“Mozart can be very symmetrical, which is beautiful, but symmetry can lend itself to regularity, which lends itself to predictability,” he added, pushing students to “Just find the spark in it, find the you in it. It’s about expressing Mozart but you are the explorer and your discoveries are totally valid.”

Rosenwein left students with words any musician would do well to keep in mind: “The best thing to do to find your voice in the orchestra is to trust your voice and trust that you’re right at the beginning. You get the job and you’re lucky enough to start to accrue knowledge.”

He continued, “The person that you are, in some ways, creates the environment around you.”

Watch Frank Rosenwein’s full masterclass below, and learn more about studying oboe at SFCM.