So, after a busy week at home to reflect on the International Double Reed Society Conference, I am still speechless…
I went to ridiculously specific seminars like “Octave keys, Flicking, and Clarity of Articulations Demystified” by Arlen Fast, contrabassoonist of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and re-inventor of the Fox contrabassoon key system. Saw a masterclass with William Short, one of the principal bassoonists with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Went to a seminar that was entitled “Finding your Niche: Identifying and Creating Opportunities” by Lynne Marie Mangan, that explored the various ways one can fill a need in a community while doing what they are most passionate about…the key take away? People who are successful and happy – whether they realized the fact or only did so after prompting – tend to do things that they enjoyed as a child.
The performances were numerous and unbelievably great. The ones that really blew me away were:
- A jazz show in an underground club called Subculture that featured Paul Hanson, Mike Rabinowitz and Alexandre Silverio, three amazing jazz bassoonists plus a rhythm section. The show was both incredible and inspiring, afterwards I got to talk to all three of them and it was the bassoon version of meeting celebrities.
- Sebastian Stevensson, the winner of the Fernand Gillet-Hugo Fox Bassoon Competition. He performed the Hummel concerto at the final gala concert. His performance was flawless and he makes the bassoon seem like the easiest instrument in the world. He coaxed the most incredibly musical phrases out of the instrument, had an incredible dynamic range and masterfully used articulations that would terrify even the most seasoned professional!
- Pascal Gallois performing Sequenza VII by Luciano Berio. The work was written for him in 1995 and embodies all the extended technique and party tricks up the bassoonist’s sleeve. The work is 20 minutes of circular breathing plus glissandi, trills, multiphonics, harmonics and more. The work sounds like exploratory digital processing, but is actually completely acoustic. His stage performance was also entrancing as he stood in the centre of a single spotlight hardly moving at all until the climax of the piece when he used his extreme body movements to change the acoustics of the trill he was playing, then moved right back to where he started the work. For me this was one of the performances I will remember my entire life!
Ok, enough nerdy bassoon talk…here are some pictures from the conference!