On the 9th August 2014, one of the most special and prevailing people of mine and many others’ lives, Jennifer Anne Caws, passed away.
Jennifer Caws studied at the Royal College of Music with Terence MacDonagh, and later on was Principal Deputy Teacher there. She also trained as a singer under Ruth Packer continuing her singing studies in Scotland with Joan Alexander, where she was one of the solo singers for Radio 4 Scotland.
Jenny had a wide and diverse career, having a much sought-after tone on the oboe: nobody could hit those silver-toned high notes like Jenny could. Her sweet tone on the oboe was exquisite, and as an oboist myself, I don’t think I will hear one quite like it again, the blessing was within the way she would communicate her sound with everyone surrounding. In accordance, Jenny pressed on to become Principal Oboe with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Professor of Oboe at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, as well as at the Welsh College of Music, Principal Oboe with the London Festival Ballet, and Second Oboe with the BBC Symphony. She also worked as a freelance oboist, appearing with the BBC Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, D’Oyle Carte, STV, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players, BBC Radio Orchestra, Paul Steinetz’, and the London Bach Players – to name a few! …As though these things alone weren’t enough to encourage another nation of artists, Jenny thrived as a teacher; communicating valuable knowledge and an unmitigated benevolence that will be passed down through her students and her students’ students for years to come.
As well as teaching privately, Jenny coached the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, and more recently coached Brighton Youth Orchestra and East Sussex Youth Orchestra. She taught in schools in Sussex as well as Greater London, and was on the committee for the Big Double Reed Society. I began oboe lessons in Sussex with Jenny about six years ago, and we shared a lot in that time. Without Jenny’s initial inspiration it’s likely I never would have realised all that the oboe had to offer me. She was an undoubtedly determined lady who never failed to carry-on marching forward, with a seemingly-undisturbed smile of self-sustenance. Jenny encouraged me both on the oboe and away from it: she inspired and nurtured an invaluable confidence in me that I will be eternally grateful for. She was the person who really urged me on my way, with her inherent motherly nature and stimulating teaching.
Jennifer Caws was a leading reed maker, oboist and teacher of her generation, and a true ambassador for the art of playing the oboe. She had a beautiful soprano voice and once even turned down the opportunity to be in Glyndebourne Festival Chorus. Age made no difference to the friendship that transpired between Jenny and me, and I want to continue in helping to make the oboe-world prosperous and golden, just as Jenny always did. Because of Jenny’s invaluable work throughout England, Scotland and Wales, Caitlin Heathcote and I have decided to dedicate this project and tour to her. We intend to travel through communities in the United Kingdom, in the hope of continuing to inspire others just as Jenny always did. We will be performing and working in schools, care homes, hospices, music centres and churches.