2020 NewBassoon Workshop

The 2020 NewBassoon Workshop will be May 31 – June 7, 2020, again as part of the National Music Festival in Chestertown, Maryland. Check back here soon for more details and registration information.

The 2019 NewBassoon Workshop took place June 1-8, 2019 in Chestertown, Maryland.



Each summer, five leading American bassoon artists and teachers, Michael Harley, Lynn Hileman, Saxton Rose, Peter Kolkay and Rachael Elliott, all members of the pioneering bassoon collective Dark in the Song, present a week-long workshop on contemporary bassoon literature, performance techniques, and pedagogy. The workshop is designed for college students and beyond. Participants work closely with the faculty and a new guest each year in a variety of settings, including master classes, private lessons, and ensemble coachings. The workshop also includes faculty and student performances, exhibits, a bi-annual performance competition, and an alternating bi-annual composition prize. Read about the 2018 Workshop.


  • Performance master classes and private lessons by Michael Harley, Lynn Hileman, Rachael Elliott, Saxton Rose and guest artist bassoonist and composer Brad Balliett
  • The Dark in the Song Performance Competition Final Round
  • Full faculty recital of solo and chamber works including the world premiere of a new works for Dark in the Song by Kamala Sankaram and Viet Cuong
  • Performance opportunities include a Fellows Concert, community concerts in Chestertown & nearby towns, and at the annual summer outdoor performance held in the pristine Adkins Arboretum
  • Workshops on contemporary bassoon literature and techniques, including circular breathing
  • Panel discussion on grant writing, commissioning, and entrepreneurial activities for performers
  • Large ensemble showcase: Louis Andriessen’s iconic Workers Union will be performed by all bassoon fellows in the NewBassoon workshop and National Music Festival, together with Jeff Keesecker and Dark in the Song
  • Presentation on the Pedagogy of Extended Techniques
  • Performance/demonstration on performing with various electronic systems including live looping


Tuition for the entire workshop is $650, which includes all activities, concert admission, and private lessons. Registration also includes a $25 processing fee. Housing is free, provided by the National Music Festival, as is transportation to and from BWI.

Our 2019 guest artist was bassoonist and composer Brad Balliett. Principal bassoon of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Brad is a founding member and former Artistic Director for the chamber music collective Decoda (Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall), and has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Musicians, New York City Ballet, International Contemporary Ensemble, Signal, and Metropolis Ensemble, among others. As a composer, Brad has witnessed and participated in premieres of his orchestral, chamber, choral, opera, and incidental music. Recent commissions have come from Carnegie Hall, Cecelia Chorus, Metropolis Ensemble, Notre Dame University, Sign & Sing, Experiential Orchestra, Cantori New York, and the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra Wind Ensemble. Brad is on faculty at the Peabody workshop and the Juilliard School (Evening Division).


“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

“The NewBassoon workshop was one of the highlights of my summer! The opportunity to work with such skilled artists who have a specialty in contemporary music is something you really can’t find anywhere else, particularly for bassoon! The skill and talent of each faculty member helped make the experience wonderful and the sense of community engagement was also very unique, I highly recommend it.”
– Dan Wolfe, DMA candidate, University of Houston

“The New Bassoon workshop is a wonderful environment to explore new ideas, make friends, and experience the amazing support of the local community of Chestertown. The faculty are excellent: innovative, accomplished, and diverse, equipped to tackle challenges in new music and meet you where your interests are.”
– Rachel Leeper

The entire workshop takes place in historic Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern shore.