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Bassoonist Takes Center Stage With Stockton Symphony

Jacqueline Rocamora / Stockton Symphony

Nicolasa Kuster, bassoon, will perform Peter Schickele’s Bassoon Concerto with the Stockton Symphony.

Jacqueline Rocamora / Stockton Symphony

While there are many bassoon concertos out there, orchestras like the Stockton Symphony don’t often feature them on their concert schedule, choosing instead to spotlight instruments like violins, cellos or the piano.  The bassoon is more often given a "character role,” as in well-know works like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

That's a favorite classical piece and a popular introduction to the bassoon for kids.  In fact, Nicolasa Kuster was a teenager when she first encountered the instrument that she would ultimately choose as her own.  She was 16 years old, attending a concert with her parents.

“And the minute I heard the bassoon coming out of that stage, it just enthtralled me, wrapped itself around my heart,” she explains.

Kuster begged her folks for bassoon lessons, went on to study at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, and ultimately landed jobs playing with different orchestras. Now she teaches at University of the Pacific – the only full-time bassoon professor in California.

Regarding the work she will perform this weekend, Kuster reminds us that composer Peter Schikele grew up playing the bassoon. She says that fact really shows up in his writing.

"That’s one of the reasons this piece is so fun to play, because a bassoonist wrote it. So we can do it! It lends itself,” she enthuses.

Kuster says she's also thrilled to be performing this concerto here in Stockton.

"Every time I get to play in front of an orchestra, I feel incredibly lucky," she says. "To play in my own town, with my own orchestra, is a real treat."

Bassoonist Nicolasa Kuster performs with the Stockton Symphony this Saturday at 6 p.m. in Atherton Auditorium on the Delta College campus.  Also on the program, Felix Mendelssohn’s music for Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."  Listen to conductor Peter Jaffe describe that work during his Insight interview with Beth Ruyak.

Audio Extra: Listen to Nicolasa Kuster describe the unique instrument maintenance challenges facing bassoon players.


Jeff Hudson

Contributing Arts Reporter and Theatre Critic

Jeff Hudson has been contributing arts-related stories to Capital Public Radio since 1995, with an emphasis on theater and classical music. He attends over 100 performances annually, ranging from modern musicals to medieval masses.   Read Full Bio