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A portrait of oboist Juanita Gomes
From Pivot Magazine

Audit and the oboe: this CPA's musical journey

After CPA Juanita Gomes played the oboe for the first time as a kid, there was no going back. Today the Kelowna, B.C., oboist balances her work as a partner at an accounting solutions firm with nearly two decades as a performer with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.

What got you into accounting? 

In high school I took an accounting course and it piqued my interest. It’s so outside the norm of your typical high school courses. I found it fascinating to understand how a business was run and the logic behind accounting. 

Name some highlights of your job. 

I really like problem-solving for businesses and having a project in my hands. I've had so many I don't know if there's any one that I can say is my absolute favorite. But I like making sense out of business challenges and I like to see businesses succeed. It’s also nice to have control over how your time is spent and to make time for your family when you need to. 

Tell us about your musical journey. 

I was trained classically on piano from about age nine, and then I went into school band class and started on the clarinet. But I didn't find it challenging enough. I was in search of something different and discovered the oboe. I took it home and couldn't put it down. I thought it was the most amazing instrument I'd ever tried. Though I never worked on a music degree, I did study with the principal oboist of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra—Walter Burton, now a retired CPA—who provided a great influence and robust education.

What drew you to the oboe? 

The structure of the oboe is different from most woodwinds. It's got a double reed, and I had to learn to make them in order to produce the sound that I love. Every professional oboist makes their own reeds. It's a beautiful, penetrating sound but it’s difficult to get that pure tone. It can take years of practice and hard work. It's very different from the flute or clarinet where you can sound like a flute or clarinet as a beginner. 

What music do you like to perform? 

I really like pieces that evoke emotion because the oboe is kind of like an extension of the human voice; it can draw from so much emotion into the pieces of music you're playing. I enjoy playing Mozart because the music that he wrote for the oboe is very light, very beautiful. Romantic-era music like Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet are some of my favourites, too.. 

How does you music and your career overlap? 

I love the challenge of coming up with solutions for businesses. Your ability to problem solve often needs to be creative, and music is creative. The oboe is an extreme challenge as well. It’s one of the hardest instruments to learn and I love the idea of conquering it. 

How do you balance it all? 

Balancing being a musician with my professional life as a CPA is tricky. It's like being an athlete—you need to be in shape. My embouchure and lung capacity can go quickly if I don't practice at home, so I have to schedule time to stay on top of that. Finding time for rehearsals, shows and at home to make sure I stay in shape can be really challenging—especially during busy season.