Shirt arrived and I agree that it’s a quality item. Bravo and thank you.
The [Kathleen] dress is perfect. Saved further trailing through retail stores with no success. Your website catered for my specific needs. Thank you. Vanessa
I have been spreading the news about how wonderful your store/site is. Thank you! Thank you! Wendy
I cannot rate your website highly enough for both quality and customer service. I am absolutely delighted with the purchase of my bespoke ‘Clara’ skirt which fits to perfection. I would have no qualms in recommending you to family, friends and colleagues. A truly first rate service. You should all be very proud of the service which you offer. Mary Hayton
The [Edward] shirt is excellent, really ideal. It is very comfortable and smart. Gwyn Parry-Jones
The [Vivien Maxi] skirt fits perfectly and is BEAUTIFUL. Thank you again. I have passed along your information to the orchestra….as I know it is often difficult to find the proper, professional attire for performances. Charla
The [Vivien Maxi] skirt has arrived and it is beautiful! Thank you Elisabete
Thank you so much for your help earlier today – and for the [Rebecca] dress. It is absolutely beautiful and my daughter loves it. Apparently it is too nice to just use for concerts, so it is going to become a “party dress” as well! I’m delighted to find something that fits so well and looks appropriate for concerts. Thank you once again. Sarah
Thank you so much for delivering the wonderful black skirt and sashes for Phoebe. She is absolutely thrilled and they are a perfect fit. I’m sure all her friends will want to know where we found such a wonderful skirt and we will point them towards your company! We look forward to making future orders! Penelope
I’ve received the Vivien Maxi Child skirt . To be honest with you I was really surprised at the wonderful quality of the material. It’s such a lovely skirt that I’ve recommended you to my daughter’s cello teacher who, in turn, will recommend to other parents . I can’t thank you enough. Tia
The dresses were a great success and the girls and parents were really happy with them. They made the performance look much more professional and cohesive. Lucy Elphinstone, Headmistress Francis Holland School, Sloane Square
It worked really well at its first outing at our recent concert and had many nice compliments. Rebecca Cavill, St Mary’s School, Calne
Your clothes are worth every penny, and are quite frankly the only clothes I’ve ever found that I’ve felt remotely comfortable in to perform. Pianist, Wales
I had a reception gig yesterday and wore the [Clara] skirt and it was just beautiful. Hannah Flowers, Professional Harpist, Forest Lake, Minnesota
The dress arrived earlier today and it’s lovely! So elegant and very comfortable! Flautist, Shropshire
I am wearing the (Imogen) top! It is lovely! Everything worked so well, the website, ordering and the prompt delivery. Sharon, Newbury

The secret world of bassoons

Daughter has snubbed maths, physics, accountancy, engineering and plumbing and is going to conservatoire. It’s all very exciting. 

It then turns out that daughter’s bassoon is too basic for this purpose and needs replacing. Fair enough! It didn’t cost the earth. What makes should we consider?

 ‘She needs a Heckel,’ quips Prof. lightly. No problem, I think, at least I know what I’m looking for. 

My suspicions are aroused when bassoonists smile and suck through their teeth.

‘Ah! Yes, a Heckel,’ sighs Ben at Howarths. ‘I’ll let you know when one comes in.’

Months pass and I check: yes, Ben is still alive, but no Heckel. So, I too, go in search. 

There’s one in the US but the owner has forgotten how to respond to emails. There’s another in Paris. The owner is happy for us to try it if we deposit the cost of a small flat into his private bank account. And there are a few suspiciously cheap instruments in Poland and Russia. It would be easier to source a pink diamond. 

Looking at the friendly group of UK bassoonists I have come to admire, it is fascinating that this incredible instrument lies at the heart of what they do. Not everyone plays on a Heckel and not everybody wants to do so. But the brand is seen as the epitome of excellence.

According to Heckel’s own website, the innovative woodwind manufacturing company Wilhelm Heckel GmbH was founded in Wiesbaden 1831 by Johann Adam Heckel and remains a family-run enterprise. In all those years Heckel must have collaborated with many names that live on today. The interesting story they tell is that while working on Meistersinger, Wagner asked Heckel to develop the Heckelphon, which is still in demand today. 

You can call the factory and order a Heckel. That’s easy. And in thirteen years’ time your new Heckel will be delivered, this time at the cost of a much larger flat. ‘They have become very expensive,’ says the friendly man at Heckel dryly. 

He’s right! It seems that daughter’s old school bassoon will just have to do, for now.