2020 NewBassoon Workshop

Coronavirus Update: The 2020 NewBassoon Workshop has been cancelled due to concerns regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. Next summer’s workshop will take place the first week of June, 2021. We hope to see you there!

Faculty and Participants of the 2019 NewBassoon Workshop



Each summer, leading American bassoon artists and teachers, Michael Harley, Lynn Hileman, Saxton Rose, 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 Rebekah Heller
  • World premiere performance of the 2020 Dark in the Song Composition Prize winning entry
  • Full faculty recital of solo and chamber works
  • 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: Rushes, by Michael Gordon
  • Presentation on the Pedagogy of Extended Techniques
  • Performance/demonstration on performing with various electronic systems including live looping


Tuition for the entire workshop is $700, 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 2020 guest artist will be bassoonist Rebekah Heller. Rebekah Heller is a bassoon soloist, collaborative artist, educator, and advocate for new music. As artistic director and bassoonist of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Ms. Heller has premiered hundreds of new works. Her two solo albums, 100 names and METAFAGOTE, exclusively feature World Premiere recordings of pieces written for and with her by a diverse group of contemporary composers.


“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.