Sundowning II by Lily Chen was written for Keyed Kontraptions in 2018. She based the subject matter on her own personal experience with her grandmother, and the changes that occured with her dimentia. Here is an excerpt from the forward of the piece:

“Sundowning is a neurological phenomenon most commonly seen in sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with sundowning usually begin to show behavioral problems after the sun sets. Sometimes they get agitated, restless, or even aggressive; sometimes they suffer from auditory hallucination, illusion, or even delusional disorder. Such syndrome visited my aged grandmother, which put her in a state of mood swings, mental confusion, and cognitive disorder. I found her physical functions obviously degenerating; she even lost her sense of hearing the week before her death.”

My wind quintet, Avenue winds performed a recorded concert at the San Francisco Center for New Music last month. This was a project that was scheduled for the begining of 2020 and due to the pandemic has been delayed for a year and a half. So we were happy that this project came together!

Filmed by Zach Miley


JOHN BILOTTA — First Light
I’LANA COTTON — The Light of Darkness
BRIAN FIELD — Five, Four by Four
ANDREW ROBINSON — Three Studies for Wind Quintet, #3
ROBERT STINE — Three Pieces for Wind Quintet, II. Andante
DAVIDE VEROTTA — Sonata Breve for Wind Quintet

Avenue Winds:

JAMES PYTKO, clarinet
KRIS KING, bassoon

I bought the Maartin Vonk Dutch Leg Stand. I had wanted to try it for years (my high school teacher had one) and I finally found one. They had been out of stock everywhere for a while but now Hodge Products has them for sale.

This version is different from the ones I had seen before, the baseplate that rests on your leg is anodized black and the bar that supports it now has preset notches for the adjustment screw to slot into. The strap that holds the support onto the bassoon is made of steel and I initially thought that I would be able to install this myself, but I have nothing at the house that could cut through the steel strap!

I glued on some leather to this block since it will have so much force rubbing against the side of the boot joint. After I realized that I have nothing to cut or drill the steel, I called Sean Gumin and he did great great job installing it. On Maartin Vonk’s website there is an in depth instruction manual which shows how to measure the length between the cuts and ideas for where to place the strap based on the player’s height.

So far I found that my boot joint fits into my bassoon case exactly as it did before, I use a Bonna gentleman cut case. The position of the bassoon seems natural to me and I can still move freely, unlike when I use a peg like on contra. It also takes some of the weight off of my left hand. This might make switching between bassoon and contra faster.

I was looking to try a Takeda Bassoon, which has been hard to locate in the USA. In my searching I looked through the Takeda website and I saw that they have developed a new wing joint which is touted to improved air flow and pitch.

Their new system switches front tone holes 2 & 3 and makes them point up the bore. This ends the tone holes in a stretch too wide for a natural finger spread and so keys have been added.

Whenever I play on a bassoon that has the left hand third finger tone hole key added I notice a big improvement in my technique. So I would be curious to see what adding two keys would do.

I did an experiment on a bassoon recently, I painted it! In the beginning of the quarantine I bought a plastic tenoroon from China, it plays well for what it is. I thought I would use it more in arrangements but then it would make the arrangement less accessible for people without a mini bassoon.

I painted it with a matte lilac spray paint and it came out great, so I decided to do my Linton bassoon also. My Linton sits in my closet now that I don’t teach, and I use it for outdoor evening gigs. For the Linton I used a darker lilac satin spray paint and the resulting finish has a bit more shine to it.

John Steinmetz wrote Four Signs in 2014 and I was lucky enough to attend the SF Premier with Steve Braunstein and Steve Paulson.

This duet is special because the second bassoon part switches to contra in movements 2 & 4. John also uses a technique in the first movement where the 2 lines cross each other alternating notes, this effect doesn’t come through clearly in the recording but in a live concert hall it creates a really satisfying sound.

Buy the duet at

Last month I received my Bell bassoon! I had ordered it in fall of 2019 and Benson gave me the heads up that it was almost finished in February. I am VERY slow to learn new equipment and it takes me forever to get the muscle memory of new shaped keys into my technique. My experience with the new horn so far had been great and I have been playing it exclusively since it arrived. Now I wanted to play them both back and forth to get some sound/resonance comparisons. I found this really confusing because the keys are in different locations and so my Heckel playing suffered, but I think from the video you can get the sense of the differences. The playing experience is quite different, I can only really explain the Bell as being more “juicy” and the Heckel as “dry” I still have a lot of work to do to figure out the Bell further!