Keyed Kontraptions Holiday Stream

Here is the holiday live stream! If you watch the video on youtube there is a program listing with time stamps in the description.

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Romantic Contrabassoon

A few months ago I worked on a project that required a romantic era contrabassoon! The basis of the project was to track the development of the contra over time and play some of the music written for each instrument.

Here in the Bay Area we are very lucky to have David Granger who is a period bassoon expert. And he was generous enough to let me use one of his period contras for this project.

Romantic Contrabassoon

Although I ended up getting in a few practice sessions on it; I found that I’m not a great period player, and this instrument has much more potential than what I could perform. I was able to play some Beethoven and Brahms on it but I never was able to get a high Ab which is in Brahms’ 3rd Symphony.

Romantic Contrabassoon Bocal

Both of David’s period contrabassoons were made by Wolf in the style of the Viennese contras. This is a unique instrument because it can be tuned to A=415 or 440 with the use of two different lengths of bocals. The bocal looks similar to a bassoon bocal but has a drain and is upside down when assembled with the crook.

Romantic Contrabassoon Bocal

When I practiced different instruments in the same practice session I was getting frustrated with the Romantic instrument. I liked it on its own, but if I played a modern instrument and switched back to romantic then it seemed so unstable and difficult to play. Period bassoons in general have a less focused sound, and so I’ve never gotten into performing on them.

Bassoon Contraforte Contrabassoon Romantic Contrabassoon

The reeds here are supplied by Wolf and were made by Stefan Pantzier I tried my hand at making a few and they turned out okay. The shape is similar in dimensions to the Contraforte C2 shape but with a shorter tube. The thing I didn’t try was adjusting the gouge to something more appropriate to the era. In the time before gouging machines people gouged by hand and purposefully gouged the center thinner. This meant less work had to be done in profiling and finishing a blank.

Romantic Contrabassoon Reeds

Contrabassoon Contraforte Romantic Contrabassoon

St. Louis Symphony Contrabassoon audition

St. Louis Symphony is auditioning Contrabassoonists. The audition is on May 1 and the position starts August 2016. The symphony recently posted the repertoire list, but not yet the sheet music. I’m posting it here because I think it’s useful for people who aren’t taking the audition to see what is on the list. As a student I used to prepare audition lists as if I was going to attend.

The exposition of the second movement of the Mozart Concerto is asked which isn’t typical. Also multiple Shostakovich excerpts are on the list which can be hard to get a hold of.

St Louis Symphony

Joseph Colombo B:R:X

San Francisco composer Joe Colombo wrote a great new piece which premiered with the Elevate Ensemble last month. A wind trio for piccolo, oboe, and contraforte drawing inspiration from Beethoven, Ravel and Xenakis (B:R:X)

Conductor: Chad Goodman

Piccolo: Bethanne Walker

Oboe: Sydne Sullivan

Contraforte: Kris King