One of my chamber groups, Keyed Kontraptions has started the season. This season is different due to the Covid outbreak, and so we have moved everything online. We are going to be releasing videos and online concerts performances in the next few months.
We are starting with a favorite piece of ours which is titled ‘Tapas’ by Marc Mellits. This is an eight movement work which is completely modular. The movements can be played in any order or just a few of them can be selected. This is a great way to build a program since we can use movements of this as an opening piece or as the closer. This piece was originally a string quartet which Marc arranged for soprano sax, clarinet, and bassoon trio.
Nomad Session recently finished a large work that took place over multiple concerts. This was a commission from Nick Benavides that he based on different landmarks aspects of San Francisco. The videography was done by Maggie Beidelman.
“What about San Francisco’s tucked away stair cases, community gardens, block sized patches of green and that one “quiet spot” in the neighborhood park with a great view that only a local can lead you to? These are the hidden spaces we are interested in and we believe that there is something more magical waiting to be discovered amidst all the fog that fills this city we call home”
Happy 2018! I now have Contrabassoon swabs available. These are made from silk and are used like a push through swab. After playing, remove the tuning slide and insert the swab into the wooden “wing joint” to remove moisture.
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.
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 himto arrange a visit and play test.
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!
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.