Meet Theresia: Paulina GòmezBy Emilia Campagna
April 26, 2022
Paulina Gòmez flew from Colombia to Germany to study the oboe. She is one of the new members of Theresia Orchestra, and we asked her to tell us more about her story.
Paulina, how did you start to play the oboe? Was it your idea, or did someone from your family or school suggest it?
I started studying music because my dream was to become a singer, so I was having music classes, and I was singing with the school choir. One day, we played something with the school orchestra, I can not remember what, and there was this instrument I didn’t know existed. I thought it was incredible, and the sound just enchanted me.
That day I went back home and started doing some research. That is when I discovered the oboe. I remember I started reading a lot about the instrument, and about double reeds. I also looked for some videos on YouTube, the first concerto I heard was Mozart’s oboe concerto. That’s how I decided to play the oboe!
In retrospect, I was really lucky. Even though my parents did not know the instrument, they have always supported me and my decisions. Thanks to that, I was able to start my path in this beautiful profession.
Why did you decide to move to Germany?
Since I started studying music, coming to Germany was one of my main goals. I even started learning German when I was in Colombia. I have always thought Germany is a country with a great music scene, great schools, and fantastic teachers. So I always dreamed of coming to study in Germany, and it has been a challenging road, but here I am.
Was it hard to move to Germany from Colombia? What do you miss more about your country?
The change from Colombia to Germany was very complicated, not only because of the language and cultural differences but also learning to live alone away from my family and friends. Now I have been in Germany for a little more than five years, and I consider it my home. I have met new people, who have become my family away from home. Besides, now I’m used to the way of doing things in Germany, the rhythm of life, even if it is very different from Colombia. I believe Germany has given me the opportunity to grow in many ways. Obviously, I am always happy to go back to Colombia and spend some time there, I think what I miss the most is obviously my family, and then the Colombian food, which has an incredible diversity that is very difficult to find in Europe.
Was it in Germany that you first met period instruments? Tell us why you decided to switch to it from modern oboe.
Actually, my first encounter with the baroque oboe was in 2015 when I was at an oboe festival in Argentina. One of the invited teachers was Diego Nadra, with whom I had the opportunity to play the baroque oboe for a few minutes: well, from there I had the idea of historical instruments, but unfortunately, it is not something that can be studied in Colombia.
I came to Würzburg in 2017 and during my master’s in modern oboe, I met my current teacher, Clara Blessing, who taught me the world of historical instruments. With her, I had the opportunity to start learning historical oboes, and I simply fell in love with these instruments. I love their sound, the feeling you get when you play a historical oboe, and the flexibility that they give.
Was the change challenging? How much is more difficult (or easier?) playing a historical oboe?
Well the change for me was quite big: although they are oboes, played with a double reed, they are completely different instruments. Technically it was interesting to get used to having a completely different instrument in your hands. Still, the basics are the same and this made a lot of things easier. Adapting to building reeds for other oboes was also difficult at the beginning, also because I didn’t have my own instrument but one that I had borrowed from the university. But historical instruments are much more than just playing them, well at least for me: they involve new ways of working with historical sources, looking for manuscripts, and reading books like the ones by Quantz and CPE Bach. This is also an important part of this world that I deeply love.
How did you know about Theresia and when did you join it?
I found out about Theresia through social media. When I saw that they had auditions I thought about applying, at the time I had very little experience with classical instruments. My teacher Clara also suggested it to me, underlining what a great opportunity it was. So I went for it and applied to the audition.
Back then I was reading about the orchestra and listening to their work and I was incredibly excited about being part of this. For me, being part of Theresia is an almost unique opportunity since there are very few options for us as historical instrumentalists to gain professional experience.
So far I have only participated in one project with Theresia, but I hope many more will come!
How is the classical music scene in your country? Is music taught in schools?
The music scene in Colombia is not so big, there are of course orchestras and festivals. The historical instrument scene is just beginning, there are some people working with this in Colombia, but is a process that needs time.
In Colombia, music is taught in primary and middle schools. There are university and government programs in some cities where people can approach music, but for me, these still have a lot to grow.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Something I learned during this pandemic is that making long-term plans is difficult because sometimes life surprises us all. In a few years, I would love to continue making music and continue taking my music to different parts of the world. I would also like to give back to Colombia and go teach the next generation of musicians. I have always thought that it would be very good to make the way for future generations easier. For example, for them to have the opportunity to know the world of historical instruments at an early age.