You don’t have to be a geek to do music - it’s a great thing to do

Blaithin Kerr plays the oboe.
Blaithin Kerr plays the oboe.

If you have the right music teacher you can accomplish anything, so says Derry oboist Bláithín Kerr.

The 19 year-old has just secured the role of principal oboe player in this year’s Ulster Youth Orchestra.

Bláithín’s currently studying to be a teacher at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Glasgow University.

Inspired by her music teachers at Lumen Christi College who include Mark Bradley and Katie McNee and Western Board tutor Ann Bergin, Bláithín said she’s thrilled to be able to study the subject she loves and to be able to use it to build a career.

“Music in Lumen Christi was a great subject to do,” she said.

“I’d like to be as good as my music teachers there some day.”

That said, the oboe, along with the French horn is regarded as one of the most difficult instruments in the orchestra to play.

But Bláithín wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I missed out on getting an instrument in primary school,” she said.

“But when Mr Bradley said they were trying people out for the oboe I decided to go for it as I’d been learning the recorder and piano.”

Bláithín has been with the UYO for the past three years and this is her first year as principal oboist.

She also has the added challenge of learning the Cor Anglais.

“I’ve never played one before but it has the same fingering and I’ll get used to it, but it has a very different feel.”

She’s now preparing for 12 days of workshops and rehearsals before the UYO hit the road with concerts.

“It has been great playing repertoire, which although challenging at times, was really rewarding to perform to an audience with amazing musicians as conductors.

“I have been under the baton of Takuo Yuasa before in my first year.

I’m really looking forward to him taking the course again as I believe since I will be at a higher position of oboes I will learn a lot more from him and increase my musical ability.

“I’ve never played any of this repertoire before with an orchestra so I am really looking forward to the challenge and how it will sound by the end of it.”

But Bláithín’s particularly pleased to be able to play in her home town when the orchestra visits the city’s Guildhall on August 21.

But isn’t playing an instrument geeky, we asked her?

“Not at all,” she said. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. My wee sister didn’t keep her instrument up and she regrets it. It’s a brilliant thing to do. I have made so many friends through my music, friends that I will keep for the rest of my life.”

For tickets for the Guildhall concert contact www.millenniumforum.co.uk or the box office on the evening of the concert.