THE WORLD'S TOP BASSOONISTS
There are many famous bassoonists around the world who show us everyday that there isn't just one way to play the bassoon.
Whether you're a fan of classical, cinema, popular, jazz, improv, or even digital new age electronic styles of music...many talented bassoonists are constantly inspiring audiences and younger musicians all across the globe with their unique styles and personalities.
Scroll below for a who's who list of some of the top rockstars in today's incredible world of the bassoon.
SOME OF THE MOST FAMOUS BASSOONISTS IN THE WORLD
(Listed by Alphabetical Order)
Andrew Brady has been Principal Bassoon with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since January 2016. Brady’s artistry is in high demand and has taken him to South Africa, Korea, London, and Mexico as well as many destinations within the contiguous United States for both performances and education opportunities. Brady has been proud to be a member of the Chineke! Orchestra including a performance at the 2017 BBC Proms. The ensemble is Europe’s first Black and Minority Ethnic orchestra and seeks to promote diversity and change within classical music by increasing representation and visibility of musicians of color.
Michael Burns enjoys roles as a soloist, in chamber groups, and orchestrally with numerous recent performances at International Double Reed Society conventions, recitals and masterclasses throughout North America, Germany, Italy, China and the South Pacific. He performs as principal bassoon with the Asheville Symphony and the North Carolina Opera and as bassoonist in the EastWind Ensemble and Blue Mountain Forecast.
He has recorded for the Centaur, CAP, Telarc, EMI, Klavier, and Mark labels and his solo CD Primavera: Music for Bassoon and Piano by Bassoonists, was released to critical acclaim on the Mark Masters label.
Stefano Canuti is recognised worldwide as one of the most charismatic and talented bassoonists of his generation. Although starting out as an orchestral player, Stefano is most distinguished as a brilliant soloist, chamber musician and inspirational teacher. With a high profile international career of over 30 years, he has performed and taught in major concert halls, conservatoires, conferences and festivals right throughout continental Europe, across the United States, South America, China, Japan, Australia and Scandinavia.
Andrea Cellacchi graduated at 16-years-old from the Music Conservatory “O. Respighi” in Latina, Italy. As an 18-year-old, he gained international prestige after winning the 1st Prize at the 10th Aeolus International Competition in Düsseldorf, Germany, and the 1st Prize at The Muri Competition 2016, Switzerland, being the first Italian who has ever gained these prestigious awards. He also is winner of the Premio Abbado 2015 and of the 1st Prize in the International Bassoon Competitions “Audimozart 2016”, “G. Rossini” in Pesaro and “Città di Chieri”. When he was 19 he became Principal First Bassoon at Konzerthausorchester. In 2018 he won 1st Prize at the International Fox-Gillet Competition 2018 organised by the IDRS.
Catherine Chen was born in Taipei, Taiwan. She began her musical studies playing the piano at the age of four and the cello at the age of five, switching to the bassoon at age fourteen.
She joined the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra as Principal Bassoon, holding the Muriel C. and John D. Silbar Family Bassoon Chair, in 2017 at the age of 24. Prior to her appointment with the Milwaukee Symphony, she earned the Associate Principal Bassoon position with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at the age of 22.
Cristian Coliver is a professional bassoonist who has performed in the most prestigious concert halls such as Carnegie Hall in New York, Philharmonie Berlin, and cities around the world such as London, New York, Chicago, Boston, Mexico, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Helsinki, Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul and many others.
He has presented many master classes, and is currently a member since the year 2016 in Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra where he is an Associate Principal bassoon and Principal Contrabassoon, member of Lucerne Festival Academy, current member of The Orchestra of the Americas, Iberoamerica Woodwind Quintet and Orquesta Solistas de America.
Whitney Crockett is Principal Bassoon for the LA Philharmonic, coming to LA after 12 years as Principal Bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
He has served on the faculties of the Juilliard and Manhattan schools of music, as well as McGill University in Montreal and the Académie de Verbier in Switzerland. He has given master classes at numerous institutions, including the Domaine Forget in Québec, the Curtis Institute, the Puerto Rico Conservatory, and many universities across the United States.
Fábio Cury is the principal bassoonist with the São Paulo Symphony and with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, and has also been a feature soloist with the most prestigious orchestras and chamber music groups in Brazil.
In 2010, his CD Velhas e novas cirandas: Brazilian music for bassoon and orchestra, was awarded as the best recording of the year by the São Paulo Art Critics Association, whereas the Camerata Aberta, his chamber music group dedicated to the contemporary repertoire, was chosen the best ensemble as well.
OLE KRISTIAN DAHL
Ole Kristian Dahl is widely respected as one of the world’s top bassoon masterclass instructors. Ole has played with the Berlin Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, NDR Hamburg, DSO Berlin, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Oslo Philharmonic, and Norwegian Chamber Orchestra.
Monica Ellis, bassoonist, is a native of Pittsburgh and began her musical studies at the age of four with her father, who was a jazz saxophonist. Ellis is a founding member of the Grammy-nominated wind quintet, Imani Winds. She is active in the New York freelance community and has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Windscape, New Haven Orchestra, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Orchestra, Spoleto-Italy Festival and Tanglewood Music Center, just to name a few.
TERRY B. EWELL
Terry B. Ewell is a professor of digital instruction and bassoon at Towson University Department of Music with over 40 years experience as a professional musician, teacher, scholar, and administrator.
Dr. Ewell served as Principal Bassoon of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Wheeling Symphony and West Virginia Symphony. He has performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. As a soloist he has performed with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. He has recorded for Musical Heritage Society, Hong Kong Records, Pickwick Records, Cambria Records, and Naxos. He is widely recognized for his innovative approaches to bassoon pedagogy, and a pioneer in the application of MIDI, MP3, and online video for bassoon instruction. His YouTube videos, website, and publications with IDRS have been viewed or downloaded over two million times.
Gordon Fantini is Principal Bassoon, Section Leader at the Belgian National Orchestra in Brussels and has collaborated with many orchestras in Switzerland such as Verbier Chamber Festival Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (taking part of the CD recording under the baton of J. Nott), Berner Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne and KammerOrchester Basel.
Bernard Garfield is probably the most well known bassoonist in America over the past 70 years. He is a composer, teacher, and recording artist. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he is probably best known for his 43 year tenure as the principal bassoonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1957 to 2000.
Audun Halvorsen is a Norwegian bassoonist who began his studies with Robert Rønnes, continuing with the Norwegian State Academy of Music under Eirik Birkeland and Knut Sønstevold. Ole Kristian Dahl has been his teacher and mentor since 2001.
He earned his first role as Principal Bassoonist in the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra in 2001 at the age of 22, and is currently Principal Bassoon for the Danish National Symphony Orchestra DR in Copenhagen since 2006.
As one of the most highly recognized professional bassoonists over the last 20 years, Paul Hanson has rewritten the rulebook for what is possible on the bassoon. Paul’s repertoire encompasses musical aspects of all modern styles of improvised music, and he is an award-winning classical bassoonist and jazz saxophonist.
Praised for her “flair” and “deftly illuminated” performances by The New York Times, bassoonist Rebekah Heller is a uniquely dynamic solo and collaborative artist. Called "an impressive solo bassoonist" by The New Yorker, she is fiercely committed to expanding the modern repertoire for the bassoon. Her debut solo album of world premiere recordings (featuring five new pieces written with and for her), 100 names, was called "pensive and potent" by The New York Times and her newly-released second album, METAFAGOTE (also entirely made up of pieces created with and for her), is receiving wide acclaim.
Yoshiyuki Ishikawa is the Professor of Bassoon and the Chair of the Woodwind Area at the University of Colorado Boulder, College of Music. He has performed and presented solo recitals, masterclasses and workshops at prestigious conservatories, schools of music, and festivals in North America, Eastern and Southeast Asia, Europe and Oceania.
He founded and is the president of the Asian Double Reed Association (ADRA), which maintains memberships in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. From 1990 to 2020, he served as a member of the IDRS Executive Board holding the positions of President, Secretary, and Editor of IDRS Online Publications.
Dr. Brian Jack is a bassoonist, educator, music administrator, member of Colorado Ballet Orchestra, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Boulder Bach Festival, and regularly performs with ensembles such as the Colorado Music Festival, Colorado Symphony, and Colorado Springs Philharmonic.
In 2007, he founded the Boulder Bassoon Quartet which has flourished over the years, releasing three albums and commissioning several works from award-winning composers.
NADINA MACKIE JACKSON
Nadina Mackie Jackson is the most widely recorded Canadian bassoonist in history with 13 solo albums, 8 chamber music recordings to her credit and dozens of albums with symphonic, chamber and historical instrument orchestras, including the Montreal Symphony, Aradia Baroque Ensemble, the group of twenty-seven, the Toronto Chamber Orchestra and Tafelmusik. She has toured extensively across North and America, Europe and Japan.
Nadina is the founder and president of the Council of Canadian Bassoonists, an official educational charity dedicated to the bassoon in Canada.
Trent Jacobs is an innovator on the bassoon, expanding the possibilities of the instrument as a solo voice through amplification and effects processing. As the creator of the “Little-Jake” electric bassoon pickup he actively pursues non-standard performance opportunities to use these innovations. Trent’s musical interests are unique and varied, having a performance history of jazz guitar and barbershop quartet singing as well as a strong commitment to the performance of contemporary and improvised classical music.
KRISTIN WOLFE JENSON
“...She has simply turned in the finest-played bassoon recital I have ever heard”, said the American Record Guide about Kristin Wolfe Jensen’s CD, Shadings.
Ms. Jensen is Professor of Bassoon at The University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music, and is also on the faculty at the International Festival Institute at Round Top, Principal Bassoonist with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Founding Director of the Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition and creator of MusicandtheBassoon.org.
Benjamin Kamins has enjoyed a wide-ranging career as an orchestral musician, chamber player, solo performer, and educator. In 1981 he was appointed Principal Bassoon of the Houston Symphony, a position he held until 2003. Now as the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Bassoon at Rice University’s Shepherd School, Mr. Kamins continues to be an advocate for young musicians and classical music performance.
Multiple Grammy-nominated Estonian-born bassoon virtuoso, Martin Kuuskmann’s charismatic and commanding performances throughout the world have earned him repute as one of todays leading solo instrumentalists.
The New York Times has praised his Kuuskmann’s performances as “amazing…dynamic…Kuuskmann played stunningly .”
Judith LeClair has been a faculty member at Juilliard since 1983, and the Manhattan School of Music since 2014. As principal bassoonist of the New York Philharmonic since 1981, she has more than 50 solo appearances with the orchestra. Previously she was principal bassoonist with the San Diego Symphony and Opera.
She premiered John Williams’s Five Sacred Trees for bassoon and orchestra, recorded it with the London Symphony for Sony Classical, and performed the piece with the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony. She is a member of the Philharmonic Quintet of New York.
Born in Montréal in 1972, Stéphane Lévesque has held the position of Principal bassoon with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) since 1998. Currently Assistant Professor at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University, Mr Lévesque was the recipient of the 2011-12 Schulich School of Music Teaching Award.
Mr. Lévesque has given master classes in numerous music institutions throughout the world, including the Curtis Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, the Oberlin Conservatory, the New World Symphony, Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, the National School of Music (UNAM) in Mexico City, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Lyon, the Hautes Écoles de Musique in Genève and Lausanne (Switzerland), and the Conservatoriums in Adelaide and Sydney (Australia).
Julia Lockhart is principal bassoon of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she earned a Bachelor of Music in bassoon and a Diploma in harpsichord, and her Master’s degree was completed through studies at Yale and UBC.
A dedicated teacher, Julia was recently appointed as an Adjunct Professor of bassoon at UBC and has given guest master classes at multiple universities worldwide.
Jaakko Luoma began playing bassoon in his hometown in Lohja at the age of 11 under the direction of Matti Tossavainen. Later he continued his studies first at the Sibelius Academy together with László Hara and Jussi Särkkä and in the Paris Conservatory with Pascal Gallois.
Jaakko Luoma became member of the Tapiola Sinfonietta already at the age of 20 in 1993. During the years 1996–98 he served as solo bassoonist of Orchestre de Paris. Today, he is the principal bassoonist of Tapiola Sinfonietta. He teaches bassoon at the Sibelius Academy.
As a soloist, Mathieu Lussier has energetically and passionately promoted the modern and baroque bassoon as solo instruments for more than two decades throughout North America and Europe. He is a member of ensemble Pentaèdre de Montréal and a Professor at Université de Montréal, and currently Artistic Director of Arion Baroque Orchestra.
Mathieu is also a respected composer, with a catalogue of over 50 titles heard regularly in the concert halls of North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Jeffrey Lyman has established himself as one of the premier performers, teachers, and historians of the bassoon in the U.S. He has been professor of bassoon at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) since 2006. He has been a member of numerous orchestras across the country and has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Savannah Symphony, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and the Michigan Opera.
Daniel Matsukawa has been principal bassoon of The Philadelphia Orchestra since 2000.
Born in Argentina to Japanese parents, he moved with his family to New York City at age three and began studying the bassoon at age 13. The following year he won his first competition and was featured as a soloist performing the Mozart Bassoon Concerto with a professional orchestra in New York. He was a scholarship student of both the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Matsukawa studied at Juilliard for two years before attending the Curtis Institute of Music as a pupil of retired Philadelphia Orchestra Principal Bassoon Bernard Garfield.
Garrett McQueen is host and producer of the nationally syndicated radio program, "Music Through the Night", and the Executive Producer of TRILLOQUY.
He is a strong advocate for the diversification of classical music and the advancement of black musicians in the field.
A proud native of Memphis, TN, Garrett McQueen has performed in venues across the country, including Los Angeles' Disney Hall, Detroit's Max M. Fischer Music Center, and New York's Carnegie Hall.
Christopher Millard is one of Canada’s best-known woodwind artists, where he has been Principal Bassoon for the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, and CBC Radio Orchestra for 29 seasons. He has received wide praise for his numerous recordings BIS, Naxos, Arabesque, CBC Records and Summit, including a disc in the prestigious “OrchestraPro” series. His recording of the Hétu Bassoon Concerto won a 2004 Juno Award.
He has been a faculty member of the University of Ottawa, University of British Columbia (UBC), and Northwestern University. He regularly gives master classes at the National Orchestra Institute, Rice University, the Curtis Institute, Indiana University, Manhattan School of Music and the New World Symphony. He was also the bassoon instructor for Canada’s National Youth Orchestra for 20 years.
Gustavo Núñez is the principal bassoonist for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world. Next to his Concertgebouw activity, he holds a professorship at the Robert Schumann Academy in Düsseldorf and the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid. He is considered one of the best bassoonists of his generation.
Mark is the Assistant Principal Bassoonist and Contrabassoonist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Over the last 30 years, Mark has performed in many different musical projects including professional recordings, musical theater, chamber ensembles, jazz and R&B groups, as well as many orchestral performances, including being a member of the saxophone section for the Cincinnati Pops under Erich Kunzel. He has performed all over the world in many different venues, ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Grand Ole Opry and MTV. A versatile performer, Mark plays all the saxophones, clarinets, flutes, and bassoons. Mark is an active studio musician and records regularly for the Hal Leonard and Alfred Publishing Companies, as well as many other projects. He teaches bassoon at the University of Indianapolis, is a founding member of the Icarus Ensemble (jazz quintet), and leads his own Jazz group, the Ortwein JazzTet.
Laurence Perkins is one of Britain's leading bassoonists. During his 43 years as principal bassoonist with Manchester Camerata he performed in concerts throughout the UK (including the BBC Proms) and on overseas tours. As a soloist, principal orchestral player and as a tutor, he is a tireless champion of an instrument which to this day is less well-known and appreciated than it deserves to be.
Juan Portal currently serves as chair and professor at the Higher Institute of Fine Arts. As an educator he partners with Professor Ivette Guillen in creating an annual Bassoon Meeting in Bolivia with the support of Boris Vázquez, that includes speakers from Bolivia, Brazil and Costa Rica, aspiring to grow internationally and provide support to new generations of young bassoonists.
Malte Refardt belongs to the internationally renowned bassoonists of his generation. Born in Hamburg, he received his musical education from Dag Jensen and Georg Klütsch. During his studies he was already principal bassoonist of the renowned Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and played under conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Claudio Abbado and Daniel Harding. Malte Refardt was principal bassoonist of the NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra from 2002-2018, before he moved to the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen as full-time professor.
In addition to activities in all major German Symphony and Radio orchestras, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the "Orchester der KlangVerwaltung" as well as the Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt), he has been invited by Seiji Ozawa as principal bassoonist for the Saito Kinen Orchestra and the Mito Chamber Orchestra since 2003.
KRISTIAN OMA RONNES
Kristian Oma Rønnes (1991) is a Norwegian bassoonist who started playing the bassoon at 5 years old. Today he is Bassoon Professor at the Music Academy in Poznan and the Principal Bassoonist of The Baltic Opera in Gdansk. Besides being a bassoonist Kristian is also a publisher, editor, composer, arranger, researcher and soloist. As a soloist he has received more than 40 compositions dedicated to him from composers worldwide. He is part of the Pracownia Bassoon Ensemble, recently wing the Golden Price at the Berliner International Music Competition (2019), and the “High Distinction” prize in Vienna International Music Competition (2020).
Niño Rubén is considered to be the creator of flamenco bassoon: specialist in interpretation and composition of Spanish and flamenco music.
Niño Rubén was born in Doña Mencía, south of Spain, in 1997. As a bassoonist and composer, he possesses an overwhelming style that is born from the flamenco essence, creating a whole universe of new sounds.
George Sakakeeny is professor of bassoon at the Eastman School of Music, and principal bassoonist of the Eastern Music Festival. In the past he has held the principal bassoon positions of the New Japan Philharmonic, The Handel & Haydn Society, the Opera Company of Boston, Promusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, and CityMusic Cleveland.
Professor Sakakeeny has taught guest master classes at the Paris Conservatory, Rice University, Tokyo University, and the Juilliard School. He held long term residencies at the Shanghai Conservatory, the Central Conservatory, Seoul National University, and the Conservatoire National Supèrieur de Musique et Danse of Lyon, France.
William Short was appointed Principal Bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2012 and has served on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Temple University since 2016. He has performed and taught at the Lake Champlain, Lake Tahoe, Mostly Mozart, Stellenbosch, Strings, Twickenham, and Verbier Festivals.
William received his Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Daniel Matsukawa and Bernard Garfield, and his Master of Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Kamins.
Barrick Stees is the Assistant Principal Bassoonist of the Cleveland Orchestra and Instructor of Bassoon at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Kent/Blossom Music. He has recorded three solo CDs, The Romantic Bassoon, Opera Transcriptions and Paraphrases, and Nostalgica.
Awarded the Presidential Scholar Teacher Recognition Award from the United States Secretary of Education, his former students occupy prominent positions in orchestras and universities throughout the United States.
Eric Stomberg has held orchestral positions over the past fifteen years as a member of City Music Cleveland, the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra.
Eric is considered one of the most sought-after contemporary bassoonists with numerous invitations to present recitals and masterclasses at conservatories and schools of music around the world. He maintains an active schedule with positions as Professor of Bassoon at the University of Kansas, Associate Director of Music for Summer Programs at Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Instructor of Bassoon at Interlochen Arts Academy. He is currently President of the International Double Reed Society (IDRS).
Keith Sweger is a professor, masterclass clinician, professional bassoonist, recording artist and leader in the global bassoon community. His recording credits include the CDs Songs of Madness and Sorrow, On the Beach At Night, Expressions in Units, Christmas Lights, and August Was Foggy. His recent Albany Records release has been received with critical acclaim.
Active in the International Double Reed Society (IDRS), Dr. Sweger is a regular performer at IDRS conferences and has served on its Executive Committee since 2006, currently holding the position of Past President (President from 2014-17).
Milan Turkovic is of Austrian-Croatian descent. He grew up in Vienna and over the past 40 years has internationally been known as one of the most famous bassoon soloists worldwide.
SIMON VAN HOLEN
Simon Van Holen, Solo-Contrabassoon of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra enjoys a rich musical career made up of divers performing, recording and teaching engagements. He has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Luzern Festival Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and is regularly invited as both a soloist and teacher in Europe and Asia.
Robert Williams has been Principal Bassoonist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since September of 1974. Prior to that he was a solo bassoonist with the Winnipeg Symphony, Winnipeg CBC Orchestra, Colorado Philharmonic and Tucson Symphony.
He is also a member of CutTime Players, the Neo-Bubonic Bassoon Quartet, the DSO Bassoon Quartet, the DSO Woodwind Quintet, the Bellingham Music Festival and the Grand Teton Music Festival.