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Use the tabs below to find out about each section of the orchestra, watch video clips, and read interviews with musicians.

This section of the orchestra got its name from the fact that many of its instruments were originally made from wood. Now they can be made from plastic, silver, gold - even platinum!

The oboe is made of wood (or plastic) with metal keys, and played by blowing a double reed (two pieces of reed joined together).

Descended from an ancient instrument called a shawm, the oboe makes a beautiful sound.

When an orchestra tunes up, the oboe acts as the guide for the other instruments.

The oboe player is sometimes asked to play the cor anglais (literally: "English Horn"). This instruments is very similar to the oboe but lower and mellower.

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Meet the orchestra

Dave Cowley, oboe
BBC National Orchestra of Wales

  • How old were you when you first started playing?
    I was eleven.

  • Why did you choose this instrument?
    My grandfather was an amateur oboist and I love the sound.

  • Do you play any other instruments?
    I play the other members of the oboe family - the cor anglais and the oboe d'amore.

  • What do you like most about playing in an orchestra?
    The amazing music written for orchestras and being part of the team that performs it. It can be great fun, it can also be boring and is often quite scary!

  • Do you play any other kind of music?
    I can play any kind of music that is written down.

  • What is your favourite music?
    20th century orchestral music. I also enjoy jazz.

  • Do you have any other hobbies?
    I love skiing.

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