Keyed Kontraptions

Meerenai Shim and I have started a new ensemble, Keyed Kontraptions!

This was a natural progression for us which came about from our previous collaborations. Our combined sound is so unique and I am excited to share our playing with you. We will be working with composers in the Bay Area to create repertoire for this arrangement.

Joseph Columbo wrote us a piece last season titled Strawocktopuss (which is a reference to one of my tattoos) Here is our performance of his piece, more to come!

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Bass Sarrusophone for Sale

An 1875 Gautrot-Marquet Bass Sarrusophone in Bb is for sale in Los Angeles. The owner is asking a very fair price considering the rarity and condition of this instrument. It is fully restored and playable at A=440

Check it out and make him an offer on eBay

I sent a few reeds out for this instrument that were modeled after historic images and published dimensions

Audition Rituals

2017 is the year of the auditions! I took a few years off from the audition circuit and now I am taking most of the bassoon auditions that pop up. This new direction has been great for my daily practice routine.

I have a few audition rituals that I’ve started and have found them to be useful to me. As far as travel goes, I arrive into town 2 days before the audition so that I have a full day in the hotel to practice and work on reeds. I also stay within walking distance from the audition location so that on the day I can relax.

My favorite part of taking auditions is the opportunity to travel to cities that I would never normally visit. So I buy a keychain on the day after my audition is over, this is the only physical token of the whole event. I have a terrible memory so this is nice over time to look back at past auditions.

The more important tradition is note taking. Immediately after I play and go back to my case to pack up I take the front page of the audition packet and jot down everything that happened, good and bad. This has extended even further to keeping track of the time I wake up, eat for breakfast, how nervous I’m feeling, time of audition, reed situation, temperature etc…

This all stemmed from the first few auditions that I took. They were spaced far apart with many onrush or years in between, and I had this idea that I was probably making the same mistakes over and over again from one place to another and not remembering what went wrong at the last audition. So keeping track of the variables on the audition day has become as important as what actually happened with my playing.

ATUM

A few months ago Elevate Ensemble collaborated with ZOFO Duet on a new work by Nick Vasallo. The Piece he wrote is titled ATUM and it’s a work centered around primitive themes. Best of all we had the opportunity to get high quality recording and video of this project!

New Contraforte Bocal

Contraforte Bocal

I received a new Contraforte bocal as a late Christmas present this year! When Wolf sends out a contraforte they send it out with one bocal, presumably something well matched to the instrument. This has been their system for a while and reflects in their period instruments as well. Since the instrument is custom made so is the bocal to match it.

One of the great aspects of playing bassoon and contrabassoon is that each player sounds different and unique, part of that is the player and part is the equipment. I also think that changing equipment/reed shape/bocals can make someones playing easier depending on what qualities they like to bring out in their playing. So having one bocal as my default bocal forever with no other option made me a little antsy. I contacted Wolf about 2 years ago and asked if they could make me a second bocal. At the time I was making shorter contraforte reeds and my pitch would travel a little high and so I asked for a longer bocal. Well they asked me why I would want another bocal and what I thought it would change. I honestly was just curious, anything slightly different would have its own characteristics, no two bocals are the same etc.

I was selling some bassoons through Midwest Musical Imports and I asked if they could email Wolf and get this started for me. And it just arrived! So far the obvious characteristics are a lower center of pitch and easier high register. This will be my primary bocal for now to figure out any other differences.

Stephen Hough: Was mit den Tränen geschieht

     I was sent a video of an awesome performance by Peter Verhoyen, Tobias Knobloch, and Stefan De Scheppe performing Was mit den Tränen geschieht by Stephen Hough. This piece is a great example of the blend possible by the two woodwinds voiced in extreme registers. This video is from Peter Verhoyen’s piccolo chamber recital.