Hi bassoonists! I hope you had a week filled with good reeds, and good thoughts, because this is the Best Bassoon Week Ever!
So, before we start talking about new music, and stuff on the internet, I found out through Google alerts that Matthew Ruggiero died this week. I didn’t know him, or ever see him play (except on old videos), but he was principal of the Boston Pops, and assistant in the Boston Symphony for quite a long time. And when I first opened a facebook profile, back in 2003 (have I really had a facebook for 10 years?) in the about section, I put a quote of his from an article about him in the IDRS journal, that has stayed there since.
I raised my bassoon to my lips, and everything I knew about bassoon playing, everything I knew about breath control, about tone production, about rhythm and phrasing, I put into Beethoven’s little melody. I took a deeper breath and put in all my boyhood dreams, all the hours of painful practice, all the days bent over at the reed table, all the joy of making music that touches one’s soul. I put in all the expectations of my teachers, and all my hopes for the future. When I finished playing, I left the stage calmly but emotionally drained. I went back to the room to wait. Before long, Mr. Mazzeo walked in, shook my hand, and said, “Mr. Ruggiero, I’d like to speak to you in my office. ” I knew I had made it; I was no longer a number, and the 1:55 had left for Philadelphia without me.
The words “I was no longer a number,” gave me great pause, and I will always remember this quote. RIP, Mr. Ruggiero.
Alright, everyone….now onto happier things!
Yohanan Chendler is a violinist and composer with the Juventas New Music Ensemble, which is an ensemble devoted to playing music by living composers. He has written a piece for Bassoon and Prepared Piano, which until now I had never seen, titled Jo Ha Kyu, The piece is performed by Nadav Cohen, an Israeli bassoonist. Jo Ha Kyu is actually a Japanese philosophy translated to “beginning, break, rapid” (if I can believe Wikipedia), and is applied most aptly to this piece. You can hear it here.
This week, a video was posted with bassoonist Adrian Morejon and Miranda Cuckson, violist, playing Quasi Hoquetus for Bassoon, Viola, and Piano. This is a gorgeous and amazing piece by Sofia Gubaidulina. I simply adore this piece. Gubaidulina’s combination of bassoon and viola, in this mournful song just sets your heart on fire at the beginning. Gubaidulina is still living, and probably one of the most interesting composers I have ever read about.
Morejon is the bassoon professor at Boston Conservatory
The professors at Colorado University published a new video this week, playing Bill Douglas’s New Moon for wind trio and piano. Yoshiyuki (Yoshi) Ishikawa on bassoon, Peter Cooper on Oboe, Brooke Ferguson on Flute, and of course, Bill Douglas on Piano. Since I went to undergrad at the University of Northern Colorado, Bill Douglas was a “household” name (studio-hold?). Mr. Douglas has written a large amount for the bassoon, woodwind duos, woodwind trios, clarinet concertos….etc. And there is a commission project every year that goes around to all the bassoonists, so they can commission another piece from Mr. Douglas. Pretty sweet gig, right?
You can find all of Bill Douglas’s music for bassoon on trevco
And for Bassoon Video of the Week:
disclaimer: some of you may be heart-wrenched/sickened by the events that transpire…..
Also, there’s a Leonard Sharrow joke.
Have a good week!