A little over eleven years ago I started playing an instrument that was just about as tall as I was. This week, I received word that a bassoon solo I wrote has been selected to be premiered at a concert in Chicago on September 21st, 2018.
A History of the Bassoon and Me
For those of you new to my blog or those of you new to my life, I started playing bassoon in the sixth grade. Initially I was dead set on playing the French Horn (for reasons that escape me to this day) but that was flushed out when Mr. Jaeger, my middle school band teacher, had me attempt to make sound on the mouthpiece, and I failed entirely.
Mr. Jaeger's method for instrument choice involved a listening test in which students marked down tones they enjoyed after several instrument sounds were played from a track, and a practical test in which we tried desperately to make sounds out of mouthpieces.
After an embarrassing bout of huffing and puffing, we discovered that I was only capable of making sounds on the double reed, narrowing my decision to the oboe or the bassoon (sadly the English Horn was not a rental option).
My brother threatened some sort of repercussion if I were to pick the oboe (citing the pitch as undesirable), so I ultimately picked bassoon.
Before starting my second year of school my dad did the math of renting a bassoon for 6 years v. buying the world cheapest bassoon off eBay, and that's when I met the bassoon I play to this day.
As well as being a random instrument I played as a passive part of my primary education, it directly influenced my ongoing academic career.
During my senior year of high school, in my first period study hall, I vividly remember signing up for a scholarship audition for Winona State University for bassoon. It was 2013, and I accessed the application on my iPod Touch, so the stakes felt very low.
I searched the web, printed out the first movement of Hindemith's bassoon Sonata (because we were playing Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis in band at the time) and I practiced practiced practiced.
My mother and I drove to Winona, I played my piece, took a Music Theory exam, and a couple months and I got this in the mail.
The scholarship solidified my choice in Winona State for my undergrad, and throughout my three years I had a lovely time, eventually receiving a Bachelor's of Arts Minor in Music.
Post graduation I have yet to join a new group, and most of my bassoon playing has just been me alone in my apartment, which leads me to:
My Bassoon Solo for Untwelve
Once upon a time not long ago, I was made aware of a Call for Works by the Chicago based musical group Untwelve.
The call for works (which has since been taken down, so I'm operating on old memory here) was for solo/multi-instrument pieces for the bassoon, flute, trombone, and clarinet (some of those instruments may be incorrect).
Specifically, microtonal pieces, privileging pieces by female, genderqueer, nb, ect. composers.
So yeah, I was intrigued. Here's the mission statement of the group:
So with that piece in my mind, I whipped out my bassoon and ultimately cranked out my solo home feels ... different which you can see and hear on the Music section of my website.
A couple days later, February 2nd, I was contacted on Facebook by a member of Untwelve letting me know that, like the icon I am, I had failed to include an email in my submission.
But it the message looked positive, and I was excited.
Submissions didn't close until March 31st, so there was a lot of waiting, and I had essentially forgotten about the submission.
Come April 1st I was back to stalking Untwelve on social media for any hints about the call for works. There really wasn't anything. Pursuing the extent of the website also led to me finding out that their annual composition competition garners international entries, so now I was unsure what the slosh pile of entries looked like.
April passed and I had forgotten about it again.
And then I got this email.
So basically I'm a professional composer and icon now, and y'all better clear your calendars for September 22nd.
Since I really can't grasp the audience size/significance of a group as the niche and academic as Untwelve, I have no idea to what level I can flex having my piece chosen.
Regardless, I'm thrilled. Just knowing that somebody respected who isn't me is going to be playing something I wrote has me on a high that I'm riding 'til September.
It took me eleven years to get here, but damn it feels good to be an icon of my own standards.
A great big thank you to all of my music teachers throughout time:
I hope to see y'all in Chicago in September, and I'm excited to see what happens before, during, and after that.