ANAM Recitals are an opportunity for each ANAM musician to make their own personal musical statement, through performance, repertoire and presentation. We recently caught up with ANAM bassoon Carol Wang (NZ) to talk all things double reed as she prepares for her recital on Friday 8 June.
What made you decide to play the bassoon and how old were you when you started playing?
Carol Wang (CW): I was introduced to the bassoon when I was nine. Prior to that I had absolutely no concept of the bassoon – what it looked like, what it sounded like…anything! My very first music teacher suggested I give it a go, and then with my parents always encouraging me to try new things that’s how I came to learn the bassoon.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue bassoon professionally?
(CW): To be honest I didn’t enjoy the progress of learning bassoon for the first three years, I didn’t know why I had to keep practicing day after day with no purpose. But that changed immediately when I watched an orchestra rehearsing Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 4. The moment I heard the bassoon’s solo being played in the second movement, albeit a brief solo (little less than a minute of music), I fell deeply in love with its incredible beauty.
The bassoon is a double reed instrument, how often do you need to replace your reeds? Do you make your own?
(CW): If I take good care of my reeds, they can last for months. I started making my own last year, but like everything else it’s very much a work in progress. I practice on the reeds I’ve made and perform on the reeds I’ve purchased. Making reeds is a technique that takes a long time to develop and refine.
Your upcoming ANAM Recital on Friday 8 June features a piece that’s never been performed in the South Melbourne Town Hall before. Can you tell us more about that piece and how you were first introduced to it?
(CW): It’s a piece called ‘Temptation’ composed by Kirk O’Riordan in 1994 and only published last year. It was a repertoire requirement for the International Double Reed Society’s Gillet-Fox Competition Preliminary Round which I’m working towards entering one day. I found the more I worked on the piece I felt it needed to have another performance outcome other than a recorded submission for a competition – cue my ANAM recital! I am very excited to share it with the audience next week.
You’re also performing Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major with fourteen other musicians! How did you decide who was going to join you for your recital?
(CW): I know right?! Fourteen is a lot. I’m just so happy they all said yes, particularly as this is a busy time for most. ‘Deciding’ who was going to join me was based on a combination of a few things – availability, enthusiasm, and whether I had worked with them before. We began rehearsals last week and thankfully it ran so smoothly. I’m not sure why I was surprised by that, given my colleagues are always prepared and ready to help each other out.
How many rehearsals are you planning to have with that group?
(CW): We have done one, with one more rehearsal to go. Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto is pretty straight forward and I much prefer to have a bit of fun during the concert than to over-rehearse it, as an element of risk in a performance is exciting and adds a little something extra. Fun fact, I should mention that the first time all of us will play together will be in my recital. Due to schedule clashes, we will be missing some members in both rehearsals. But as I said, a little risk is always exciting.
Are you performing in any of the recitals for other ANAM musicians?
(CW): Yes! I will be playing in Andrew Fong’s clarinet recital on Tuesday 5 June. I’m really looking forward to it – Andy’s a fantastic musician to play alongside. Plus his recital includes Jazz, or ‘fake-Jazz’ as he calls it, it will be a lot of fun.
SAINT-SAËNS Bassoon sonata in G, op. 168
O’RIORDAN Temptation for solo bassoon
MOZART Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major, K191
Carol Wang (NZ) bassoon
Leigh Harrold piano
Kyla Matsuura-Miller (QLD) violin
Harry Ward (NSW) violin
Phoebe Masel (QLD) violin
Jasmine Baric (NSW) violin
Hana King (NSW) violin
Ruby Shirres (VIC) viola
Jared Yapp (WA) viola
Caleb Wong (NSW) cello
Caleb Murray (NSW) cello
Damien Eckersley double bass
Owen Jackson (QLD) oboe
Emmanuel Cassimatis (alumnus 2017) oboe
William Tanner (QLD) horn
Emily Newham (QLD) horn