Why is cane strength so critical?
The high-quality cane you will receive from Oboe Cane and Reeds all comes from the Var region of France. Some retailers list cane by grower, with a variety of pricing. My philosophy is that cane strength ultimately determines whether you will be happy with a reed and since there is a wide range of strengths within any given batch of cane that I receive, I control this important variable sorting the cane by strength in addition to diameter. Tube strength is determined by looking at the thickness of the walls, the cane’s color and the distance between the vascular bundles. Gouged cane strength is determined by my feeling the cane’s resistance, observing its color and noting the prominence of, and distance between, the vascular bundles. Again, each batch of cane will yield a slightly different set of strengths. The soft and shreddy cane is discarded, therefore the softest cane I sell is classified as medium hard. Medium hard cane usually yields a quicker finished reed but may not last as long as reeds made from hard or extra hard cane. Please note that working with extra hard cane takes more care to prevent cracking, especially with the smaller diameter cane (10-10.5mm).
Meet your Cane and Reeds professional
Kristen Severson has been sole proprietor of the cane division of Oboe Cane and Reeds for 28 years. Her customers -- from Hawaii to Japan, Canada to Mexico --are professional symphony players, amateurs and students of all ages. She is responsible for all finishing work on the cane she sells, following the industry standard of .60mm in the center and .45mm on the sides with +.02 or -.02 margin of error as oboe cane measurements.
As a professional oboist, Kristen's understanding of quality control and attention to detail have built a loyal customer base. She has acquired seventeen oboe shaper tips over the years, enabling customers to experiment with a variety of shaped cane before making a shaper tip purchase. In 2013 Kristen acquired the wholesale reed division of Oboe Cane & Reeds and has since been responsible for the finishing work on all reeds.
While not at her shop desk, she is an active free-lancer in the Boston and New England area, having performed with The Opera Co. of Boston, Opera New England, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Emmanuel Music, Boston Classical Orchestra, Boston Ballet, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, Cantata Singers, Masterworks Chorale, New England Classical Singers, Boston Ballet, Huntington Theatre, NH Symphony, NH Music Festival, and Portland Symphony. She also plays in the Bach, Beethoven and Brahms Society of Boston and remains as a board of director following service as a founding officer.
Kristen received a MM degree at The Juilliard School of Music, studying with Thomas Stacy (New York Philharmonic, retired), and a BM degree from The Manhattan School of Music, as a student of Joseph Robinson (New York Philharmonic, retired). She began oboe studies with Neil Tatman at The University of the Pacific following receipt of a B.A. (Sociology) degree from Colorado College.
She also studied oboe with Larry Thorstenberg (Boston Symphony, retired), Richard Killmer at the Aspen School of Music and participated in masterclasses with John Mack. She appeared on Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt as a participant in Thomas Stacy’s featured master class.
She credits Stuart Dunkel with her solid foundation of oboe fundamentals and reed making. Oboe Cane and Reeds, having begun as a partnership between Stuart Dunkel and Kristen Severson, attracted the attention of The Boston Business Journal, where their business was featured in the July 1989 edition, due to its seemingly overnight success. Oboe Cane and Reeds is celebrating 30 years in business.