It is both bittersweet and beautiful that Oscar Navarro's "Legacy Concerto” is about Time. The composer writes of the piece: “The passage of time is something that we cannot stop. We can remember the moments from the past, enjoy the present, and imagine the future. Along life’s path we leave indelible marks; on places, on people, and there are the moments in life that leave their marks on us.”
The timeline of this piece in my life is over a period of 3 years. Those 3 years were not ordinary years.
It begins in August of 2018, when I attended the international double reed society annual conference, in Granada, Spain. One of the evening concerts was getting a lot of buzz, and not wanting to miss out, I gathered myself after a long day of lectures and recitals and set out for the concert hall. I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to hear a performance of the newly written "Legacy Concerto", played by Ramon Ortega—a recent oboe phenom who grew up in Granada and was making a huge name for himself in the oboe world— and conducted by the composer himself, (another Spaniard), Oscar Navarro. The piece and the performance took my breath away! The music was filled cinematic portraits of Arabian deserts, timeless love scenes, the spices and smells of a Moroccan stew, the slow swirling of smoke from a hookah, and the intricate mathematical labyrinths of Arabic tile work. During those 25 minutes, I remember exactly how my legs were attached to my body and precisely where I rested my arms on my thighs and how I occasionally looked up into the constellation of chandeliers in the ceiling and let the sounds bounce around and through me. After the performance, I floated out of the concert hall into the magical night air of Granada. The concert hall sat just under the watchful eye of the ornate and ancient palace of the city, The Alhambra. I leaned over a low stone wall in the night breeze and felt like some kind of explorer who had just discovered a musical treasure. Little did I know that in 3 years, we would play this beautiful music in Platteville, Wisconsin!
Thanks to Matthew Gregg and the UW-P Symphonic Wind Ensemble, I got the opportunity to begin working on the concerto in June of 2019. Ten months later, on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, I played the piece with the UW-P Wind Ensemble in our first and only rehearsal.
Three days later, the whole world shut down. Time had stopped.
As you know, much has happened since then. I was so grateful to play this concerto and for the musicians and I to have this collective experience. The musicians played their hearts out. This concert was a special one to me —not just because we played an extraordinary concerto— but also because we finally got to play together again.
The complete performance of Navarro's "Legacy Concerto". Heather Huckleberry, oboe with the UW Platteville Symphonic Wind Ensemble under the direction of Matthew Gregg (Nov. 2021)