I just got back from a wonderful week in Oxford, Ohio for the 2012 International Double Reed Society conference. This was my third IDRS conference, and the first one at which I actually performed. The events took place at Miami University, and our hosts were Miami faculty members Andrea Ridilla (oboe) and Christin Schillinger (bassoon).
The five days of the conference were at once exhaustingly long and all too brief. I tried to pack as many concerts, masterclasses, and presentations as possible into each day. But as with most conferences, there were usually multiple things going on simultaneously, and I couldn’t make it to everything I would have liked to see. But some of the highlights of the conference for me were (in no particular order) the top-notch evening concert performances by Jeff Lyman, Martin Kuuskmann, and Damian Montano; recitals by Saxton Rose, Maya Stone, Scott Pool, Carolyn Beck, Richard Ramey, Michael Burns, and the UGA faculty (Reid Messich and Amy Marinello Pollard); lectures by Richard Lottridge, James Kopp, Terry Ewell, and Richard Meek; and both a masterclass and jazz night with Michael Rabinowitz. (I’m sure I’ve left some people out — my apologies!)
On Tuesday morning, I performed André Previn’s Sonata for Bassoon and Piano with Gabriel Sanchez, a very capable pianist who I’d only met the day before. Then on Wednesday, Nicolasa Kuster and I presented a program of bassoon duos: Music for Two Bassoons by Alexandros Kalogeras, When the Pines Sleep it is Autumn by Bruce Reiprich (a world premiere!), and the second movement of Francisco Mignone’s Sonata No. 1 para dois fagotes. Although both performances were in a kind of out-of-the-way venue, we had decent-sized and enthusiastic audiences each day. In addition to these two official performances, I had the great pleasure of going on stage at the end of Michael Rabinowitz’s jazz masterclass and trading choruses and fours on “Cantaloupe Island” with Michael, my friend Trent Jacobs, and seven or eight other improvising bassoonists.
Aside from the official conference events, it’s always great to reconnect with old friends, colleagues, and teachers, and also to make new friends. Whereas at last year’s conference in Tempe, I mostly saw friends from UW-Madison, this year I ran into people from my other two schools. Representing FSU were my conference roomie Brett van Gansbeke (who has just launched The Orchestral Bassoon) and Joe Volk. The ASU contingent was a bit larger, including Ingrid Hagan (who played beautifully in the Gillet-Fox Competition), Ben Yingst, Ashley Haney, and conference host Christin Schillinger.
As always, the plethora of vendors provided ample opportunity for shopping and trying out new instruments. I played most of the historical bassoons offered by Wolf along with modern instruments by Gebruder Moennig. I stopped by the Légère booth to have some adjustments made to my new synthetic bassoon reed. I browsed the wares of many other vendors, wishing I had more money to blow on tools, accessories, and music. My only actual purchases were books: James Kopp’s new history of the bassoon, a catalog of the bassoon collection of the late great British bassoonist William Waterhouse, and a catalog of instructional materials for bassoon up to 1900, assembled by Waterhouse and edited by Kopp.
My trip home was somewhat of an ordeal, with an 8‑hour delay in Dayton and an unplanned overnight stay in Denver. But while languishing in the airport I made some new double reed friends. With the help of a borrowed laptop and IMSLP, a couple of us even played a bit of Mozart’s Sonata for bassoon and cello, K. 292. As soon as we started playing, the whole gate area went quiet, and we got a hearty round of applause when we finished. When we finally reboarded the plane, a few people thanked us for playing — had we known the reception would be so warm, we would’ve gotten our instruments out hours earlier.
After being home for a couple of days, I’m finally recovered, and am already looking forward to next year. The 2013 conference is just around the corner, at the University of Redlands in Southern California!