SOLO BASSOON AND ORCHESTRA – CANADIAN COMPOSERS – by NADINA MACKIE JACKSON

SOLO BASSOON AND ORCHESTRA – CANADIAN COMPOSERS – by NADINA MACKIE JACKSON

SOLO BASSOON AND ORCHESTRA

CANADIAN COMPOSERS

by Nadina Mackie Jackson

Solo Bassoon Concerto

This is a spreadsheet of 36 concerti for solo bassoon written by Canadian composers. In this list, I include all Canadian works that were envisioned for bassoon and orchestra, including very short pieces that can serve as encores. There are fifteen columns, covering the name of the concerto, composer, date of composition, instrumentation, duration, commissioners/dedicatees, soloist, conductor, premier date, publisher, premier venue, orchestra for premier, premier city, recordings and selected repeat performances. I am actively searching for more Canadian works for bassoon and orchestra and updates will happen over time. To see all the column entries, click on “column visibility”. 

Below the spreadsheet are some of my thoughts on bassoon concerti in general.

Composer
Title
Composition Date
Instrumentation
Duration
Commissioner and/or Dedicatee
Bassoon Soloist
Conductor
Premier Date
Publisher
Premier Venue
Orchestra
Premiere City
Recording
Repeat Performances (selected)
Adaskin, Murray Concerto 1960 Bassoon and (Orchestra) George Zukerman George Zukerman
Bellemare, Gilles Arguments 1982 Bassoon and String Orchestra (9 violin parts) Orchestres Symphonique de Trois-Rivières? Richard Gagnon Gilles Bellemare Orchestre Symphonique de Trois-Rivières Trois-Rivières, Québec
Buhr, Glenn Concerto No. 1 Bassoon and (Orchestra) Vince Ellin
Buhr, Glenn Concerto No. 2 2010 Bassoon and String Orchestra with Percussion Nadina Mackie Jackson
Buczynski, Walter Lyric VIII June 17, 1995 Four Bassoons and Orchestra Caliban Quartet (Nadina Mackie Jackson, Fraser Jackson, Kathy McLean, Michael Sweeney) Available in University of Toronto Library archive https://discoverarchives.library.utoronto.ca/downloads/otufm31-walter-buczynski.pdf Not yet premiered
Buczynski, Walter Lyric X 1994 Bassoon and String Orchestra Available in University of Toronto Library archive https://discoverarchives.library.utoronto.ca/downloads/otufm31-walter-buczynski.pdf
Carravasilis, Constantine Silver Angel 2015 Bassoon and String Orchestra 18:00 Thirteen Strings & Ontario Arts Council/Nadina Mackie Jackson Nadina Mackie Jackson Kevin Mallon 11-Jun-15 St Andrews Thirteen Strings Ottawa https://youtu.be/e9NvfBGjQvU October 24, 2016, Heliconian Hall, Toronto, led by Composer
Coulthard, Jean Lyric Symphony III 1975 Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra (picc, 2 fl, 1 ob, 2 cl, percussion) George Zukerman Jesse Read CBC Radio Orchestra Vancouver Jesse Read, CBC Radio Orchestra, Vancouver, 1994
Eckhardt-Gramatté, Sofia Concerto for Bassoon 1950 Bassoon and Orchestra (check instrumentation)
Eckhart-Gramatte, Sofia Triple Concerto for Clarinet, Trumpet and Bassoon 1949 Bassoon, Clarinet, Trumpet and Orchestra (check instrumentation)
Frehner, Paul Apollo X 2013 Bassoon, Strings and Percussion 18:00 Orchestra London, Ontario Arts Council, Nadina Mackie Jackson, Trudy Chambul Nadina Mackie Jackson Alain Trudel 13-Nov-13 Canadian Music Centre Hyatt Hotel Fundraiser Gala Orchestra London London, ON https://youtu.be/YHcVUyKrIlI Feb 5, 2016, Centre for Social Inovation, Toronto, group of 27, led by Eric Paetkau; October 11, 2017, Heliconian Hall, Toronto, led by Composer
Goldberg, Theo Concerto? Bassoon and (Orchestra) Canadian Broadcasting Corporation George Zukerman
Hétu, Jacques Concerto Opus 31 Bassoon and Orchestra Canadian Broadcasting Corporation George Zukerman Pierre Hétu CBC Radio Orchestra Montreal Christopher Millard
Komorous, Rudolf Demure charm 1990 Bassoon and Strings with Obbligato Flute 10:30 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Michael Sweeney Hugh Wolff Oct-90 Canadian Music Centre Roy Thomson Hall Toronto Symphony Orchestra Toronto CBC __?__ [none that I know of – I think there was not a second perf before McL recording, but you'd have to check with her]
Komorous, Rudolf Concerto 1995 Bassoon and String Orchestra Jesse Read 1995 CBC Radio Orchestra Vancouver IDRS Rotterdam, 1995
Leclerc, Simon Concerto 2017 Four Bassoons, Contrabassoon with String Orchestra and Tympani Orchestra Symphonique de Montréal Carlo Colombo, Stéphane Lévesque, Martin Mangrum, Mathieu Harel, bassoons; Michael Sundell, contrabassoon Kent Nagano Augst 12, 2017 Membres of l'Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal Montreal
Lussier, Mathieu Song of Love & Sorrow 02-Feb-17 Bassoon and String Orchestra 03:00 Gift from composer written on date of NMJ's father's death Nadina Mackie Jackson Paul Frehner 11-Oct-17 Heliconian Hall Out of This World Toronto https://youtu.be/_lzRozkl-Dc
Lussier, Mathieu Oddbird Concerto 2011 Bassoon, Strings and Percussion 18:00 Nadina Mackie Jackson Nadina Mackie Jackson Eric Paetkau 13-Nov-15 TrevCo Music Trinity St-Paul group of 27 Toronto Canadian Concerto Project, MSR 1480 scheduled November 10 and 20, 2020 with Peterborough Symphony and Prince George Symphony, rescheduled to 2021
Lussier, Mathieu Le Dernier Chant d'Ophélie 2008 Bassoon and Strings 09:00 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Nadina Mackie Jackson Alain Trudel Feb-08 TrevCo Music Glenn Gould Studio Toronto Chamber Orchestra Toronto Canadian Concerto Project, MSR 1480 2016, Toronto, Drayton, Eugene (Oregon) 2020 Toronto
Lussier, Mathieu Double Concerto for Trumpet and Bassoon 2006 Solo Trumpet and Bassoon with String Orchestra 17:00 Nadina Mackie Jackson Nadina Mackie Jackson & Guy Few Kevin Mallon 17-Jun-08 TrevCo Music Grand River Baroque Festival Barn Grand River Baroque Festival Orchestra Ayr, ON Bachanale MSR 1201 2014, Okanagan Symphony Orchestra led by Rose Thomson, Kelwona, Cleland, Vernon
Lussier, Mathieu Bachannale 2008 Trumpet and Bassoon with String Orchestra 09:00 Nadina Mackie Jackson Nadina Mackie Jackson Kevin Mallon
Lussier, Mathieu Bassango 2006 Bassoon and String Orchestra 03:00 Nadina Mackie Jackson Nadina Mackie Jackson Nadina Mackie Jackson (August) 2009 TrevCo Music Wild Horse Saloon Just Plain Folks Awards Recipients Nashville Bachanale MSR 1201 2014, Brampton Rose Orchesestra, Hattiesberg Univ of Southern Mississipi, Memphis University, 2016 University of Toronto – many uncounted performances
Lussier, Mathieu Spring Lullaby 2007 Bassoon and String Orchestra a duo concerto version for corno da caccia & bassoon 03:00 Nadina Mackie Jackson Nadina Mackie Jackson Eric Paetkau 2010 TrevCo Music Grand River Baroque Festival Barn Grand River Baroque Festival Orchestra Ayr, ON Bachanale MSR 1201
Lussier, Mathieu Fort Coligny 2014 Trumpet and Bassoon with Orchestra 15:00 Orchestra Toronto Nadina Mackie Jackson & Guy Few Kevin Mallon Feb 16 2014 TrevCo Music North York Performing Arts Centre Orchestra Toronto Toronto
Lussier, Mathieu Nightfall, Opus 27 2009 Trumpet, Bassoon & Harp with Wind Ensemble 15:00 American Wind Symphony, Robert Boudreau Nadina Mackie Jackson, Guy Few & Michael Purves-Smith 23-Nov-09 Peters Maureen Forrester Recital Hall Wilfrid Laurier Wind Ensemble Waterloo
Morawetz, Oskar Concerto 1994? Bassoon and (Orchestra) David McGill David McGill
Morehead, Patricia Come Dance With Me, The Dance of Life 2014 Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra 09:00 Max Lifchitz Gilbert Dejean Max Lifchitz 02-Jun-15 Canadian Music Centre St Stephen's Episcopal North South Consonance New York City
Mozetich, Marjan Concerto for Bassoon and Strings with Marimba 2003 Bassoon and Strings with Marimba 21:40 Ontario Arts Council & Michael Sweeney Michael Sweeney Myumi Seiler, leader Jun-03 Canadian Music Centre Glenn Gould Studio Seiler Strings (Via Salzburg) Toronto Aficondo A.034401 2007, IDRS Conference, Ithaca; 2008 Via Salzburg, Toronto; 2015, Elgin, Illinois; 2017, Little Switzerland, North Carolina
Occhipiniti, Michael Thirteen Seconds 2013 Trumpet, Bassoon and String Orchestra 07:00 Nadina Mackie Jackson Nadina Mackie Jackson & Guy Few Eric Paetkau 25-Apr-14 Bloor Street United Church group of 27 Toronto Canadian Concerto Project, MSR 1480
Occhipiniti, Michael Sicilian Proverbs 2013 Trumpet, Bassoon and String Orchestra with Percussion 12:00 Nadina Mackie Jackson Nadina Mackie Jackson & Guy Few Eric Paetkau 25-Apr-14 Bloor Street United Church group of 27 Toronto Canadian Concerto Project, MSR 1480
Oickel, Lucas squeezed from wood 2016 Bassoon and Orchestra 05:22 Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra Nadina Mackie Jackson Dinuk Wijeratne 27-Aug-16 St John's Anglican Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra Lunenberg, Nova Scotia https://soundcloud.com/nadina-mackie/4-oickle-squeezed-through-wood August 28, deCoste Centre, Pictou, August 29, Halifax, St Matthews United Church
Raminsh, Imant Concerto Bassoon and Orchestra George Zukerman? George Zukerman Hamilton Symphonhy Orchestra Hamilton
Scime, Adam Concerto 2010 Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra with Piano and Electronics University of Toronto Nadina Mackie Jackson Constantine Caravassilis 24-Jan-11 Walter Hall New Music Ensemble, Univ of Toronto Toronto
Sharman, Rodney At Dusk 2002 Bassoon and Strings with Harp 07:30 Michael Sweeney Michael Sweeney Myumi Seiler, leader Jun-03 Canadian Music Centre Glenn Gould Studio Seiler Strings (Via Salzburg) Toronto Aficondo A.034401 & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbvCkvM_S4M
Sokolovic, Ana Concerto pour basson et sept cordes graves 2009 Bassoon with 4 celli and 3 bassi Stéphane Lévesque Stéphane Lévesque Richard Laing 2009 Queen's Park Sinfonia Birmingham, UK Archive recording available to IDRS members March, 2010, McGill, Contemporary Ensemble led by Denys Bouliane; August 2010 Ottawa Chamber Festival led by Gary Kulesha
Trudel, Alain Carnets de Voyages 2008 Trumpet and Bassoon with String Orchestra and Percussion Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Nadina Mackie Jackson & Guy Few Alain Trudel 08-Feb-08 Glenn Gould Studio Toronto Chamber Orchestra Toronto
Turner, Robert Concerto for Bassoon and 17 Instruments 1973 Bassoon and 17 Instruments George Zukerman CBC Radio Orchestra
Weinsweg, John Divertimento No 3 1960 Bassoon and String Orchestra 18:00 University of Saskatchewan George Zukerman Leeds Music (CMC) University of Saskatchewan
Wuensch, Gerhard (Joseph) Concerto for Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra 1976 Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra Gabor Janota?

What is a concerto?

Most of us think of it as a piece of music that uses a solo instrumental voice to convey the message of the music, an opera featuring a single voice. Some of the more academic amongst us also have historical perspectives on precise form.

I think the concerto is about having an opinion. Maybe that is why Italy shot out of the gate with 39 concerti by Antonio Vivaldi with works so fresh and complex (and short) that we are still performing them, almost 300 years later.

Also about intense collaboration and mustering of all forces. How about the bassoon concerto as a cultural indicator of the general robustness of the classical world?

The solo bassoon concerto is one of the most joyous forms of classical music, uniting and contrasting the distinct and expressive voice of the bassoon (or other instruments, but really, the bassoon) with the exquisite colours of the strings (and other instruments).

There are layers of local cultural assumptions around the idea of the concerto, including which instruments are allowed to be heard as solo voices, which players are allowed to be heard as soloists, which orchestras will program these works and will composers write for solo voices.  For after all, there is considerable expense involved in creating these complex works, from the commissioning fees to the copying and preparation of parts, to the hiring of orchestras and soloists, to scheduling and paying for the performances and recordings. It is a big deal. Not to mention learning the concerto.

I think more bassoonists should learn the concerti that have been written for our instrument. Every time that I play a concerto, I hear from audience members who had no idea what the bassoon was capable of. Every time that I play a concerto, I hear from a young person whose imagination and sense of possibility has been triggered. People can relate to concerti immediately. And have an opinion about them. Imagine if audiences had enough live listening opportunities to actually have opinions about multiple concerti and bassoon soloists. And the first time I heard a bassoon concerto was in my first year at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia when our bassoon teacher, Bernard Garfield, played the Mozart Concerto. We were so proud of him!

When I was a young professional starting out in my career as second bassoonist with the Montreal Symphony, it caused a major flurry when I was presented several times as a soloist. One of the male members of my section refused to play those concerts and the orchestra had to hire a substitute member of the bassoon section in the orchestra to accompany me. On a more cheerful note, the other male member of my section was the conductor for some of those concerts.  Oh, and I was playing the Mozart concerto.

While there are still some archaic attitudes prevalent in the classical world, times might be changing for the better. No longer is the only bassoon soloist allowed to perform is the leader of the bassoon section for each orchestra, dutifully presenting the Mozart bassoon concerto once every ten years. New concerti are being introduced to audiences and even those section bassoonists are allowed to branch out into contemporary repertoire.

It is still a rare event when a career solo bassoonist is invited to perform with orchestras. And a remarkable event when the concerto has been written in our lifetimes for the player on the stage.

Just as with strings and voice, we need many performers and concerts.  Without this, the necessary cross-pollination of multiple influences,  the resultant spikes in varied virtuosity, expansive expressivity and general opinions take much longer to happen.

It is so important to have new music created for us, to participate in the voice of our time. And there are so many good concerti for bassoon that audiences need many more opportunities to hear these works.

So back to the question, what is a concerto?

According to composer Eric Funk (backed up by the Encyclopedia Britannica), the origins of the word “concerto” contains two opposing ideas… playing “with” and playing “against”…. Sometimes the solo voice is supported and left free to express, and sometimes it has to fight and speak in an opposing voice. The Italian and English words are that of “agreement” and the other meaning, from the Latin, are of “competing” or “contesting”. This unification of opposing viewpoints is precisely what I love about the concerto form.

And again, you can see the cultural implications of championing this musical form. Imagine the docile bassoonist expressing an opposing viewpoint, leading the orchestra or demanding support or actually having the spotlight to speak their minds.

For many years, Sofia Eckhardt-Grammattée was the only Canadian composer of a bassoon concerto, and a triple concerto, but in fact, she wrote these works prior to emigrating to Canada. We still consider these works to be Canadian because she chose Canada as her forever home, but you can see from the table that it was another decade before another Canadian composer, Murray Adaskin, wrote for the bassoon. In fact, he really wrote for a particular player, George Zukerman. And this is a pattern that has always existed… these works of music for a solo voice have to be imagined with a personality, not in some abstract vacuum.

You can read about the origins of the Adaskin concerto in George Zukerman’s blog, A gift to be simple. George went on to inspire many new works, including concerti, and he even had the courage to pester Shostakovich and Britten for a bassoon concerto, and though that didn’t happen, the effort is still laudable.

Sometimes the soloist who premieres the work is a different person from the one who inspired, fundraised or begged for the work to be created in the first place, and this is good too. And the beauty of this form is that the concerto will sound different in the hands of each and every soloist. The success and evolution of the music depends on repeat performances by many performers, which is why I try to record all of the music written for me. If performance opportunities are sparse, at least interested listeners can access the music.

The next surge in commissions came when Mathieu Lussier wrote several new bassoon and orchestra works for me to perform and record, followed by other wonderful Canadian composers such as Paul Frehner and Constantine Caravassilis.

Some of our top orchestral players have taken the initiative to commission new works, including Michael Sweeney, Stéphan Lévesque and David McGill when he was with the Toronto Symphony in the 90’s. Other wonderful players have taken the initiative to perform and record these works, such as Chris Millard’s recordings of the Hétu and Morawetz concerti, or Jesse Read’s premiering of Jean Coulthard’s Lyric Sympony III. Important to note that some of these concerto commissions came from American organizations (e.g. American Wind Symphony and North South Consonance) or America-born players. Interesting to note that many commissions came from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, back in the day.

OK, what do you think a concerto is?

There is remarkable value of speaking in a solo voice while combining forces with our beloved orchestras. Take a look/listen to what Canada has created thus far. I hope that many more commissions and performances will emerge in the coming years… Italy may have had a head start, but we will catch up!

My next list will be of international composers writing for Canadian bassoon soloists.

 

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