Today after a major change in the weather and therefore the reeds, its absolutely pouring with rain, we heard 2/3rds of the 15 competitors.

15 doesn’t sound like very many I suppose, but the programme is really exacting and has to be played all from memory, apart from the new composition, a winning piece from an in Conservatoire Competition by Khazak composer Sanzhar Baiterekov. In contrast to almost all the major competitions everyone here who applies gets to play, rather than having a recorded screening process. Highly unreliable in my experience. Part of the joy of having the whole gang here is the possibility for international friendships to be made, for feedback from the jury, masterclasses, for education in the broadest sense. As Alexei Utkin, fellow juror and Russian Oboe Legend said to me today ‘everything is for them’ pointing to the stage.

The standard is high, in some cases exceptionally high, and there are some outstanding players, many of them very young. My own student Kyeong Ham played this afternoon very beautifully but as always was annoyed with anything small that went wrong. At 17 he was the youngest to play today.

Oboists grit your teeth for this, they had to play Bach Partita first two movements in A or G minor, Schumann Romance number two, dubbed by Alex Klein as ‘la muerte’, and Flight of the Bumble Bee in F minor! I’m timing all the Bumble Bees and will report times later. So far at least 2 have broken the world record!

There is a lovely English woman here who is studying in Moscow, Emma Vallender. She was previously at the Royal College in London. She is a very rare explorer from the UK into International Competitions. Who knows why…. Theories anyone?

Sad news came today that the Chair of the Horn jury, running concurrently with our Oboe Competition, conductor Vladimir Ziva, had an appalling stroke early this morning. He’s the second chair of this jury to be struck, the previous one died 2 weeks after being chosen as Chair. So far the Oboe jury is unscathed… We are all wishing Mr Ziva well and hoping for the best for him.

Tomorrow we hear the last 5 competitors and choose at least 8 to go through to the 2nd round. I’m writing this listening to live Polish -Marroccan-jazz-folk-fusion in the bar of an Art Hotel opposite the Kremlin after two near perfect Mojitos made with 20 mint leaves each…