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A Bassoon Extravaganza

The bassoon is an endangered species!  Various factors, such as the high cost of instruments and scarcity of teachers, mean that fewer and fewer young people are taking up an instrument which is a vital component of orchestras and other ensembles. Working alongside the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and York Music Hub, the NCEM is helping to redress the balance in a project celebrating the bassoon, its history and its unique and beautiful sound.

On 6 January 2017, young people from across all year groups at St Aelred's RC Primary School took part in a series of workshops led by OAE bassoonist Andrew Watts and NCEM's Cathryn Dew.  Young people learned about the bassoon's history and found out about its role as a solo and ensemble instrument. Eight children from the school have been offered the opportunity to learn to play the mini bassoon (a smaller, higher-pitched version of the instrument).  Thanks to funding from the Mark Williams Foundation and York Music Hub, these children will be receiving lessons and the loan of an instrument free of charge.  They will be learning with local bassoon teacher, Isabel Gamov, over the Spring and Summer terms.  Not only will they be getting to grips with the instrument, they will also be working towards their first performance.

OAE and NCEM have commissioned a piece - Mosaic for Minstrels - from composer and woodwind specialist Anthony Bailey.  The piece is written for the Minster Minstrels (York's youth early music ensemble), oboe and bassoon players from OAE and a whole band of young bassoonists, including St Aelred's' beginner players. The piece will be rehearsed in a special one-day workshop at NCEM on 27 May and performed on 9 July 2017 as part of the Minster Minstrels' concert in the York Early Music Festival.

Many of the young players will be keen to continue their 'bassoon journeys' after the project has finished, and NCEM is working with York Music Hub to find ways to help support their continued learning.

For more stories from this project, please see the Youth Music Network blog .

A Bassoon Extravaganza is run in partnership with OAE Education and made possible thanks to generous support from the Mark Williams Foundation, York Music Hub and the Mayfield Valley Arts Trust.