When it comes to Pinocchio’s Geppetto and oboist, Loren Meaux, there’s one common skill that aligns the two men: wood crafting.
Loren’s skill of shaping and creating double-reeds is a dutiful art that can only be described as, “50% musician, 50% Geppetto.” He uses cane to make his reeds, a material he orders from a supplier in the U.S. or from as far as China, Australia, and France. Although the process (which includes a gouging machine, and the scraping, wetting and sculpting of a reed to the measurement of 60 microns) may sound like something out of Dr. Frankenstein’s lair, the reason for braving through such a long procedure serves a greater purpose.
The intent, despite all of the energy and fun that go into making the delicate pieces, is to ensure that, “the quality of sound is consistent,” Loren says. However, Loren is not alone in his reed-making enthusiasm. The task of making reeds has become more of a joint effort, as fellow musicians from the Colorado Wind Ensemble— a group that Loren has spent nine seasons with, will have an occasional “reed-making party.”
Making their own reeds allows a wind player to maintain the quality and size of the reed, which is apparent in the final product of any woodwind concert. Since store-bought reeds tend to vary in these factors, Loren will often make his reeds in bulk, as one reed can only stretch as far as eight hours of playing time.
It’s safe to say that Loren is very dedicated to his craft after being first influenced by woodwinds when Tiny Tots, a division of Inside the Orchestra, performed at his elementary school. He originally wanted to play the bassoon since it served as Grandfather in, Peter and the Wolf, however, his parents had a different instrument in mind when they asked him if there was anything else he wanted to play.
“It was a kind way of saying I should play something cheaper and smaller,” Loren says. He chose the lesser-in-size oboe, becoming the first in his 4th grade band to play the instrument, since it’s more common for beginners to start on the flute or clarinet.
Loren comes from musical parents; his Dad played the French horn while his Mom sang in the Cherry Creek Chorale. In Loren’s own family, his four-year-old son is still exploring his options as far as choosing an artistic realm. “It’s important to have an arts education, whether it’s acting, drawing, or music,” Loren says.
Loren describes himself as a Jack-of-all-trades when it comes to computer systems, in part due to his experience as a data processor with the mortgage industry. However, he was ready for a change when a friend invited him to work as a program analyst for Denver Health. He hasn’t looked back and feels that his current job prepares him for so much more than Information Technology. “I’m able help the community on a level that not all jobs do,” Loren says.
Loren takes his job seriously. As a community-based hospital for lower-income people, Loren believes strongly in the mission, “that everyone has healthcare, it’s important to me. My volunteerism is my job,” Loren says.
Surrounded by doctors and nurses with medical backgrounds, Loren believes that his musical background helps to mesh both worlds. “They have to be creative in their profession,” Loren says. “Not everyone thinks the same. I have to be creative with the way I explain things to people, and so do they.” Loren adds.
Loren is currently in his 14th season with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra and serves as the Assistant Principal for Oboe and English horn. In his free time, Loren builds scale-models of WWII aircraft and plays Dungeons and Dragons. He is also a passionate science fiction fan and an avid viewer of Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica. Loren believes that the “best Sci-fi to be put on screen,” is the show, Firefly.
“It’s a gritty fiction that blends Star Wars and Star Trek, the men and women are equal, and there is hope in the story,” Loren says. When it comes to being stereotyped as a nerd, Loren adds, “I fly that flag pretty proudly.”
Bands on Repeat: Van Dyke Parks, an “eclectic musician, writer and producer from the late 1960’s that was a Randy Newman fruition. He’s irreverent, dry, witty, and pokes fun at political and social climate.”
First concert: His Mother’s Cherry Creek Chorale concert when he was 5 or 6 years old.
Interesting fact: Loren is the 13th member of his family to attend Cherry Creek High School.
Top: at DPO rehearsal
Middle: with his wife Jade and son Avery
Bottom: at DPO rehearsal
By Julia Compton, DPO Embedded Reporter