Leitzinger Contrabassoon Bocals

This week I had a few Leitzinger Contrabassoon Bocals on trial from Forrests Music. I had a Leitzinger NML2 bassoon bocal  a few years ago when I played on a Fox 601, but I sold it since it didn’t pair so well on my Heckel 10k. What I so appreciated about that bocal was the easy high note response and clarity in the tone. That bassoon had some funny pitch issues (saggy middle E) that the Leitzinger fixed immediately.

I have been using a Heckel C2 that suits the instrument well, so trying new bocals is just out of curiosity. Forrests has a large selection of Leitzinger contra bocals so I got to try each type and plating option, I ended up really liking a F2 Gold plated and an F2 platinum. Now that I have had them at home for a few days I have a sense of what these are able to do.

I notice almost no difference in response, pitch, or tone from the Heckel and the high notes are just as solid. The one improvement I do notice is when I use a light reed and play loud sfz attacks sometimes the pitch can sag with the Heckel, and the Leitzinger is more stable. However I do not like the bend, it angles down much more than I would like which forces me to change the instrument position. And lastly the price point is high. This thing comes in at $2,300 which is much more than a new Heckel bocal, without a huge sound difference. I am impressed by the sound and quality of this bocal but it’s a little too much for me!

Contrabassoon

A Contrabassoon has entered my life recently and I am very excited to start using it. This instrument was owned by Steve Braunstein. He ordered it from Heckel while he was playing with the Toronto symphony, it was finished 1984. Over the summer I trialled 2 other Heckel contras and this instrument was by far the standout. I am very lucky to be the custodian of this horn for a few years.

I get asked about the Contraforte vs. Contrabassoon and I mostly stay quiet. But I think that the entire repertoire is accessible to either instrument. I would like to experiment with using both instruments this season, choosing the instrument that fits the character of the piece.

Metal Bassoon

In the Paris Musical Instrument Museum there are a few display cases of bassoons, and one of them contains a bassoon made metal. This bassoon was made by Arsène Zoë Lecomte at the end of the 19th century. It was made based on the Buffet “French” bassoon fingering system/bore.

Ophicleide for Sale

A vintage  Royet Toulouse Ophicleide in C is up for sale on eBay. Mendelssohn, Wagner, Berlioz, and Verdi all have repertoire utilizing the Ophicleide.

Heckel Contrabassoon #1002 For Sale

Heckel Contrabassoon #1002 is up for sale. This contra is owned by Steve Braunstein who is the original owner, and he has kept fantastic care of it! The horn was ordered in 1982 while he was in the Toronto Symphony and he has since been playing it in the San Francisco Symphony. Contact him to arrange a visit and play test.

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!

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!