ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In concert, the oboe is always the first instrument to raise its voice.
This traditional gesture gives the musicians a last chance to fine-tune before a performance.
Next Chatter Sunday, oboist Andrew Parker will lead the Trifecta Trio through works by Benjamin Britten and fellow English composer Ernest Moeran at Las Puertas Event Center.
Often labeled the most difficult instrument to master, the oboe also is credited with most closely resembling the sound of the human voice.
Now the oboe professor at the University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music, Parker began playing the instrument when he was in fourth grade.
“We went to what they called an ‘instrument petting zoo,’ and I fell in love with the oboe,” he said in a telephone interview from Austin. “I think I thought I could charm snakes with it.
“It is one of the hardest instruments to get to an intermediate level,” Parker continued. “I think I was always drawn to a challenge.”
Parker will join Sarah Whitney on violin, Angela Pickett on viola and Laura Metcalf on cello in a pair of fantasy quartets. The group last played at Chatter about a year ago.
The concert will open with the work of the relatively unknown composer Ernest Moeran. Both he and Britten penned their works for the famed British musician Léon Goossens, considered one of the premier oboists in the world at the time.
Moeran was an English composer of part-Irish extraction, whose work was strongly influenced by English and Irish folk music. He wrote his fantasy for Gooseens in 1946.
Gooseens “is kind of singlehandedly responsible for a sizable chunk of our repertoire,” Parker said.
“I wasn’t familiar with Moeran at all,” he said. “He’s not a well-known composer.”
“It’s very much in that English folk music style, very Vaughan Williams, very Benjamin Britten,” Parker said.
Written in 1932, the Britten Fantasy Quartet for oboe and string trio was written when the composer was a student at the Royal College of Music. Britten wrote the music in the form of a 16th century fantasy, with the oboe as soloist.
“Britten is such a beloved composer,” Parker said. “You absolutely hear that flavor that is Britten, but it also has a political flavor. A lot of his work is anti-war. It’s this simply beautiful narrative that seems like a celebration of nature.”
Parker also boasts an Albuquerque connection; his parents live here.
“My dad works for Sandia National Lab,” he said, “so I started getting involved in the music scene there. I played with what was then called the New Mexico Symphony (now the New Mexico Philharmonic) and the Santa Fe Symphony. When you become friends with other classical musicians, you seek opportunities to play together.”