The first NewBassoon Workshop, a four-day event July 6-9, 2016 was held at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.
ABOUT THE FIRST NEWBASSOON INSTITUTE
The first of what we hope will be annual workshops, moving to a different host school each year, was held at the Eastman School of Music, July 6-9, 2016. Eastman felt like a great place to kick off this Institute: three of us (Lynn, Peter, and Mike) are graduates, and the school has such a supportive atmosphere for contemporary music.
We had seven enrolled students – Bassoon Fellows – from all around the U.S., in addition to a wonderful workshop assistant, Eastman bassoonist Liz Rosa. This proved an ideal size, lots of opportunities to get to know everyone personally, play and work together, learn exciting new repertoire, and of course, eat at Dinosaur Barbeque!
Highlights (in addition to Dinosaur BBQ) included:
- An opening faculty recital, where Dark in the Song premiered two outstanding new bassoon quartets by Elliott Grabill and Brad Balliett, the winners of our first-ever Composition Competition. So many intriguing works were submitted in this call for scores that we plan to premiere more this coming July at the 2017 Workshop.
- A superb final round of our first Performance Competition, with finalists Ben Roidl-Ward (Texas), Allen Hamrick (New York), and Graham Logen (Washington). First alternate Alex Meaux (Ohio) also attended the workshop. Everyone played beautifully, performing solo pieces by Chris Fisher-Lochhead, Choji Kaneta, and Philippe Hersant in addition to the required work, John Steinmetz’s Sonata for Bassoon and Piano. Ultimately Ben received 1st place, Allen 2nd and Graham 3rd. Congrats to all.
- A well-attended performance of Michael Gordon’s Rushes, with Dark in the Song and our three competition finalists, at Rochester’s South Wedge Mission. It was particularly fun to get out into the community and play on a laid-back concert that also featured singer-songwriters! We are pretty sure Rushes was unlike anything that’s been done at the Mission in recent years, or (more likely) ever.
- Masterclasses on solo repertoire, and memorable seminars on everything from using looping pedals to commissioning new works to music advocacy to contemporary techniques and circular breathing (Mike was DEFINITELY the loser of our impromptu water spitting contest). Special guest Jamie Leigh Sampson, author of Contemporary Techniques for the Bassoon: Multiphonics, spoke about her exhaustive research on the topic, and the hall was filled for a time with sounds both guttural and ethereal.
- A final concert featuring all our Bassoon Fellows including William Leenheer, Hannah Reilly and Joe Swift, in performances of chamber music they’d rehearsed and worked with faculty on throughout the week, including works by Amy Beth Kirsten, Alex Weiser, and a world premiere by SUNY-Fredonia composer Andrew Martin Smith.
We hope to make our second NewBassoon Institute, at the University of South Carolina in lovely Columbia, SC, even better! Please join us for more music-making, seminars, masterclasses, general bassoon geeking out, assorted mayhem, and, of course, BBQ (authentic Carolina BBQ, this time around).