2018 NewBassoon Workshop

The 2018 NewBassoon Workshop, a week dedicated to contemporary bassoon repertoire and performance was held from June 8-12, 2018 in Chestertown, Maryland as part of the National Music Festival.

We were warmly welcomed by the community, and especially enjoyed the chance to work with the NMF bassoons on our combined “Double Reed Rebellion” concert, which promises to be an annual event!

Twelve bassoon fellows from across the U.S. came together for this year’s workshop, including undergraduate and graduate students as well as professional bassoonists. It was an outstanding group of people, and we enjoyed the chance to work together not only in masterclasses and lessons, but also socializing over meals at the Fish Whistle and daily (or twice daily!) visits to Evergrain Bread Company for espresso and baked goodies.

We were joined by guest artist Jeffrey Lyman, Professor of Bassoon at the University of Michigan, who performed with us on two faculty chamber music concerts and shared his vast knowledge of contemporary repertoire. An outstanding educator with extensive knowledge of the modern and contemporary repertoire, Jeff was generous with his insights on the music and shared many useful suggestions for approaching various techniques we’re confronted with. His class on Stockhausen’s In Freundschaft was a highlight of the week.

The entire institute took place in historic Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern shore.


Others pay lip service to the idea, but National Music Festival embodies the ideals of community engagement and bringing music to the people. Fellows and faculty are hosted by families in local home-stays, and rehearsals and performances take place in venues throughout the town, including the local arts council, bookstore, churches, retirement home, clubs, and even a local automotive repair shop – yes, right in the center bay, next to cars on lifts, and exhaust fans whirring!

2018 NewBassoon Institute highlights include:

  • Two faculty recitals of solo and chamber works for bassoon by Dark in the Song with Jeffrey Lyman, including the world premiere of Takuma Itoh’s Sunburnt for bassoon quartet
  • Fellows Concert featuring the world premiere of three bassoon quartets (composed for Dark in the Song), a quartet improvisation, and a fellows & faculty performance of Fredric Rzewski’s monumental Les Moutons de Panurge
  • A performance of Michael Gordon’s Rushes with NMF bassoon mentor, Jeff Keesecker, and two NewBassoon Institute fellows at the Sultana Education Foundation (picture chemistry benches in the back with science experiments for kids, and tanks of turtles and fish looking on)
  • Two masterclasses on solo repertoire including fellows performing excerpts of Fujikura’s Calling, Philippe Hersant’s Hopi, Sebastian Fagerlund’s Woodlands, and William Winstead’s Enigma, among others
  • Interactive seminars on contemporary improvisation; electronics and live looping; Stockhausen’s In Freundschaft; and a career and audience engagement discussion
  • Private lessons by Michael Harley, Lynn Hileman, Rachael Elliott, and Jeffrey Lyman
  • A farewell gathering including a picnic, swimming and games hosted by one of our generous host families


“So, I went to the 2018 Dark in the Song New Bassoon Music Workshop hoping to increase my exposure to new bassoon music and perhaps pick up some skills to use on gigs. I also wanted to hear some samples of current bassoon music, as I felt quite a bit out of touch. I was fully expecting to soldier through (no matter what I heard) and just try to at least learn something new. What actually happened was a transformation in me, from skeptic to fan. The faculty of players/teachers planned very informative and interactive sessions that drew me in and kept me. Their individual and collective knowledge of new bassoon music and their playing artistry were fully world-class. I was inspired at every performance I attended to become the very best bassoonist I could imagine so that I, myself, might acquire the skills needed to play as well as they. Notably, I now believe in the expressive power of properly mastered extended techniques, which is for me an endless invitation to discovery. I very much recommend attending the workshop. Chestertown, MD, is charming and lovely, and the community fully supports the workshop with warmth and generous service.”

-Tia Wortham, Principal bassoon, US Navy Band