30 Under 30: Nattie Chan

Oboist Nattie Chan plays with the University of B.C. and Vancouver Academy of Music symphony orchestra. -
Oboist Nattie Chan plays with the University of B.C. and Vancouver Academy of Music symphony orchestra.
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Age: 22

High School: Kitsilano Secondary

It’s a woodwind double-reed instrument capable of making sweet melodies—and the beauty of the oboe isn’t lost on Nattie Chan.

The Richmond oboist has found perfect pitch with the instrument, and has a bright future in music. Chan, born in Hong Kong, recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music (oboe performance) from Ohio’s Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and is now eyeing a master’s degree or jumping into a professional career with an orchestra.

Today she plays with the University of B.C. and Vancouver Academy of Music symphony orchestras, and is a member of the newly-formed group: the Fireside Woodwind Quintet. She also has a business selling professionally handcrafted oboe reeds, and outside of music, works as a racquet stringer.

Music, she says, allows her to express feelings and emotions without words. It also gives her opportunities to travel and meet amazing people who inspire her.

Inspiration? “My first major musical influence is Alex Klein, who won a Grammy award with his recording of the Strauss Oboe Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His recording of the Vivaldi Oboe Concertos is the first oboe CD that I owned. I felt in love with his lush tone and was in awe of his brilliant ornamentation and interpretation. Any musician can translate black notes into audible melodies, but it takes an artist to transform the sound into something worthy for the soul.”

Most proud of? “Having the opportunity to commission new pieces for oboe and taikos (at Oberlin Conservatory)… In my senior recital, I premiered two chamber pieces—one for oboe, piccolo and taiko ensemble, and a trio for oboe, piano and taikos. I was very lucky to have the support of my oboe professor Robert Walters, and the audience absolutely loved it.”

Advice? “No matter how busy you are, always remember to eat proper, sleep proper, and most importantly, take a day off. Your body, mind and spirit will appreciate the gift and perform better in the long run.”

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