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Cats, Christmas, and Bass Bassoons, Oh, My!

Submitted by Tom Lough

Dec 19, 2022

Like cats, bassoons can be sneaky, especially bass bassoons, and especially at this time of year. Here’s how cats and bass bassoons sneaked up on me.

Last year, I was part of a cohort of five in an online composing course taught by Joseph Sowa. After the course, the five of us decided to meet via Zoom each month to support and encourage each other.

At our November meeting, we decided to use a “Secret Santa” approach for December and challenge each other to compose a piece of music that would relate to our secret giftee. Through an offline random process, I drew Lori, who is a clarinet instructor, woodwind composer, and band arranger living in the greater Chicago area.

From earlier meetings, I knew that Lori had cats. She had also reported a triumph at a recent estate sale in which she was able to purchase an antique bass bassoon. So, with cats and bass bassoons as my jumping off point, I took a leap into the giant unknown. I had no idea what the result would be.

For the past 20 years or so, I have been composing church music. First, I worked up short choral prayer responses and then choral benedictions. Then I took a composing course at the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford) so I could develop larger works. After retiring and moving to the Austin Texas area, I was able to line up a couple of composing coaches and publish some anthems through Hal Leonard / Shawnee Press.

It was Joseph Sowa’s composing course that gave me the courage to expand my composing in some different directions. It didn’t take long to come up with a cats/bassoons concept, but the greatest fun I had was developing the story line and lyrics. The song, “Cats and Christmas,” was the result.

Once the song was presented to Lori at our December meeting, sung to her by a trio of my nieces and a nephew, I was encouraged to share it more widely. I was grateful that many bassoonists seem to have a whimsical sense of humor and the ones I contacted gave me even more encouragement. Then B.O.S.S. popped up on my radar. I felt a strong resonance with the mission, so I sent the song to Donovan and here it is!

I hope that it will bring a smile to everyone who sings it and who hears it. I hope that it might help bring the bassoon to the attention of more young people as well.

Thank you, B.O.S.S.

Tom Lough Round Rock, Texas

PS: I’m promoting a hymn for use with Veterans Day 2023, and I invite all bassoon players and anyone else to help spread the word. Visit for details.

Here's a free link to download the PDF version, courtesy of Tom Lough.

Download PDF • 220KB

Pickles (Tom's grand cat) contemplating his next bassoon lesson.


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