on the eve of a new season

August 30th marks the beginning of my 23rd season with the Oregon Symphony. Closing in on a quarter century! Wow, where did the time go?

My first season I came to Portland from the Berkshire region of Massachusetts, where I was a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. I really had no idea what was ahead of me. I had won the Assistant principal position the previous May, the graduated from Peabody Conservatory with my Graduate Performance Diploma. Sometime in June I got a call from the then President of the orchestra, saying that the Principal violist had resigned, and James DePreist wanted to know if I would accept the title of Acting Principal viola. I did, and it was quite a ride for someone who had only played with school orchestras, summer festivals, and had a position with a regional, per-service orchestra in Maryland. This year is a bit of a closing of a cycle. Principal violist Joël Belgique is on leave this season, and Carlos Kalmar asked me if I would fill in as Principal for this season. So I will, and it should be a less adrenalized experience this time around!  I’m sort of ready to come back, but also would love a week or two more to enjoy working in the garden, taking trips to the mountains and the beach, and just being a general homebody.

I’m not sure how frequently I will be updating the blog during the season, but be sure to sign up for email updates so you don’t miss new postings. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be in touch again soon!

oregon symphony musician wins LA Phil position

Photo: Ashley Courter

Evan Kuhlmann, OSO Assistant principal bassoonist/contrabassoonist has won a highly coveted position with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which I was able to confirm with him today. No word on when Evan will begin work in LA. Most position start dates are set at the mutual availability and convenience of both the orchestra and the audition winner. In addition to his work with the Oregon Symphony, Evan is also a brilliant composer and arranger, and is a member of the Arcturus Wind Quintet and 45th Parallel Universe.

Evan’s bio from the Oregon Symphony website:

Evan Kuhlmann was born in Seattle, Washington. He graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy with Honors in Bassoon and English and The Juilliard School; where he earned a B.M. in Bassoon Performance with Scholastic Distinction as a student of Frank Morelli, a Graduate Diploma in Music Composition as a student of Robert Beaser, and the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. Evan also studied bassoon with Francine Peterson, Barrick Stees, and Eric Stomberg; and composition with Samuel Jones, Stanley Wolfe, and Philip Lasser.

As assistant principal bassoon and contrabassoon with the Oregon Symphony, he has been praised for his “outstanding” playing (The Oregonian) and can be seen “rocking out” on a regular basis (Seen and Heard International). He has performed with numerous orchestras internationally including the St. Louis, San Diego, and Seattle Symphonies, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, All-Star Orchestra, and Orchestra of the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy.

In 2000, Evan made his solo debut with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall. He has also performed as soloist with the Marrowstone Festival Orchestra, and with Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and the Oregon Symphony. Evan makes frequent appearances as a guest artist on local chamber and contemporary music series, as well as music festivals in the Northwest and beyond. As principal bassoon of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, he has performed countless premieres, including works of John Adams, Magnus Lindberg, James MacMillan, and Christopher Rouse.

A dedicated teacher, Evan is a faculty member at Portland State University and Woodwinds @ Wallowa Lake, and maintains a private studio. He has also taught at the Marrowstone Music Festival and coached the bassoonists of the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia, Portland Youth Philharmonic, and Metropolitan Youth Symphony.

summer catch-up

I can’t believe that it’s been nearly two months since my last post! Lots of stuff has been happening, musically. In early July I was at the Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene, Oregon. I played three orchestral concerts there, and two chamber music concerts. The orchestral concerts were a mixed bag of repertoire. The first concert consisted of the world premiere of The Passion of Yeshua by Richard Danielpour, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. The final orchestral concert was the Elijah oratorio by Felix Mendelssohn, conducted by John Nelson. In between was a hybrid orchestral-chamber music concert. It featured the music of JS Bach and Philip Glass. Our piano soloist in the Oregon premiere of Glass’ Third Piano Concerto and Bach’s G minor piano concerto was the incredible Simone Dinnerstein. We performed without a conductor per se, but with Simone leading as needed from the piano. The opening piece was Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, also without a conductor, led by OBF orchestra (and OSO) concertmaster Sarah Kwak. Then, in our festival debut, was the Pyxis Quartet (part of the new 45th Parallel Universe collective) playing Glass’ String Quartet No. 5. Glass was in attendance at the concert, and was also generous enough to give us a bit of time to play through some parts of the quartet the afternoon before the concert. It was a fantastic experience – very much a once-in-a-lifetime sort of musical happening!

Post quartet selfie with Philip Glass: L-R: Marilyn De Oliveira, Charles Noble, Philip Glass, Ron Blessinger, and Ruby Chen.

Then, after a week off at home, I was off to Coos Bay, Oregon for the Oregon Coast Music Festival. This festival has been going strong for 40 years, and this was my first time taking part. James Paul is the music director, and the orchestra comes from all over the western U.S. It was a blast from the past for me, as many in the orchestra played in the Cascade Festival orchestra which I took part in in Bend, Oregon for several years back in the late 1990’s. It’s a large orchestra, and the repertoire was sized to match – Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Scheherazade, Brahms’ 4th Symphony, and Strauss’ Don Juan were the major works of the week’s classical concerts. It was a super fun and relaxed festival, and it was also much cooler than the nearly triple-digit temps that folks inland were dealing with during the week!

Now I’m home again, and getting ready for some chamber music concerts in the Oregon Wine Country. I’ll give you the low down on those later this week.