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On Friday evening at 6pm, the co-founders of the competition announced the five finalists who will compete on Sunday afternoon at 3 in Warner Concert Hall at the Oberlin Conservatory:

1) Briana Lehman (Rice University)

2) Shuo Li (Oberlin Conservatory)

3) Julie Link (Cleveland Institute of Music)

4) Laura Miller (University of Texas at Austin)

5) Amanda Swain (Northwestern University)


by Daniel Hathaway

Semi-final rounds of the Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition got underway early Friday afternoon as nine bassoonists took the stage in the Oberlin Conservatory’s Kulas Recital Hall. The nine (originally ten, but one withdrew due to injury) were chosen from a pool of 47 applicants through video submissions.

In order this afternoon, we heard Kelly Harrison (Oberlin); Laura Miller (graduate student, University of Texas at Austin); Shuo Li (Oberlin, from China); Marian Graebert (graduate student at the University of Akron), Amanda Swain (graduate student at Northwestern); Alex Zdanis (Colburn School); Briana Lehman (Rice); Julie Link (graduate student at CIM); and Micahla Cohen (graduate student at Yale).

Each contestant played three required pieces, cleverly chosen to demonstrate each individual’s technique and musicianship, interpretive skills and to measure how they projected their musical personality to an audience. Three judges would independently rank each player and cumulative scores would determine which five performers would advance to the finals on Sunday at 3pm in Warner Concert Hall.

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By Mike Telin

The Meg Quigley Vivaldi Bassoon Competition and Symposium gets underway on Friday, January 15 at the Oberlin Conservatory. As background to the event, I reached Founders and Co-directors Kristen Wolfe Jensen and Nicolasa Kuster for phone interviews last week.

Kristin Wolfe Jensen

MQVC Co-Director Kristin Wolfe Jensen has been the bassoon professor at the University of Texas at Austin since 1995, and is also on the faculty of the International Festival Institute at Round Top, and the Eastern Music Festival, where she is Principal Bassoonist of the Eastern Philharmonic. Ms. Jensen is Principal Bassoonist with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra and previously has toured Europe with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and served as Acting Principal Bassoonist of the Houston Grand Opera. The American Record Guide reviewer said of her solo CD Shadings, “…She has simply turned in the finest-played Bassoon recital I have ever heard… She obviously sees tone quality as the foundation for her fluent technique…It is a ravishing sound, siren-like in its attractive flair…Ms. Jensen could teach a lot about musicality to a number of famous violinists…”. Her other chamber music and solo recordings can be heard on the Cambria, Opus One, Klavier, and Centaur labels.

Mike Telin: How did the idea for this competition come about?

KWJ: Nicolasa and I were sitting in a Café in Buenos Aires at the 2001 International Double Reed Society Convention. We had been friends at Oberlin, and we were talking about how we would like to see more young women bassoonists empowered. It seemed as though the majority of bassoonists who were participating in International competitions for the bassoon were male although at least 50% of bassoon students enrolled in music schools were female; so why are female bassoon students not succeeding in International Competitions? We had to ask ourselves what was causing this to happen. I think at that time about 72% of principal bassoonists in orchestras in the United States were male, and why were the females not rising to the top? There has been some change in this in the past decade, which is good.

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Daniel Hathaway
founder & editor
Mike Telin
executive editor
Jarrett Hoffman
assistant to the editors

James Flood
J.D. Goddard
Jarrett Hoffman
Nicholas Jones
Timothy Robson
Robert & Gwyneth Rollin
Alexandra Vago
Tom Wachunas