41st annual Basically Beethoven Festival online in July 2021

Fine Arts Chamber Players announces its summer series, the Basically Beethoven Festival, will be produced online in July 2021. For the second consecutive year, FACP will record and share Festival performances for the Basically Beethoven Festival-in-Place. Musicians will be recorded in a concert setting and the footage will premiere online as scheduled: July 11, July 18, and July 25 at 3:00 p.m. Long-time attendees will note this is a slight shift from the usual 2:30 p.m. curtain time. As always the concerts are free, but this year advance registration is required at FACP.eventbrite.com.

“The continued improvement in various COVID-related benchmarks is promising for the fall,” explains FACP Executive Director Emily Guthrie, “but we take very seriously the role we play in gathering our community together. Based on audience feedback, we will wait for the vaccination rate in the county to improve before gathering indoors.”

FACP Board President Anne Witherspoon adds, “Our Festival Director, Alex McDonald, worked very hard last year to recreate online the concerts our audience has enjoyed for decades in person. It was a new endeavor for FACP and was very successful. FACP is eager to return to the stage, but we feel July is too early to be prudent. We know the Festival will still offer incredible performances for our audience.”

“Music serves as a vehicle for people to bond,” Basically Beethoven Festival Director Alex McDonald says, “particularly during times of struggle, crisis, or conflict. So even though we, again, cannot come together, we can at least share this experience online. I am excited to produce these programs, including a World Premiere by Dallas composer and FACP music education alumnus Quinn Mason.”

For 40 years, FACP has made classical music accessible to all, regardless of age, ability, status, previous experience, or background. FACP works to have diversity reflected in its programming and on stage.


Basically Beethoven Festival 2021: A More Musical America

July 11, 18, & 25

FREE  |  Online  | 3 p.m. CDT  | RSVP at FACP.eventbrite.com

Each Festival concert begins with a Rising Star Recital highlighting exceptional student musicians from the area, and continues with a Feature Performance showcasing professionals of the highest caliber. FACP never charges admission for its programs. Donations can be made online: www.fineartschamberplayers.org/donate

With an interest in diversity and inclusion, each concert element that includes an artist or composer of color is marked with (*), each element with a female artist or composer is noted (^), and each element that features a composer that is part of the LGBTQ community is noted (~). Programming is subject to change.


July 11

Rising Star*^: Reina Shim, flute; David Choi, piano; works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Francis Poulenc

Feature Performance*^: Chloe Trevor, violin; Emileigh Vandiver, Dallas Symphony Orchestra cello; Jonathan Tsay, piano

Program^: Trio in A Minor, op. 150 by Amy Beach  |  Piano Trio by Charles Ives

Ives and Beach are a pair of American composers with such different sounds that one could wonder how the same land produced these geniuses. The Beach Trio is sweeping, lyrical, and even sweet; while the Ives is thorny, juxtaposing melodies that are full of soul and searching. The Rising Stars recitalists are 13-year-old wunderkids, both of whom recently placed first in the Music Teachers National Association competition.


July 18

Rising Star: competition winner from the SMU-Institute for Young Pianists summer intensive

Feature Performance*^: Jennifer Chang-Betz, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (FWSO) violin; Molly Baer, FWSO violin; Colin Garner, Dallas Opera Orchestra viola; Craig Leffer, FWSO cello

Program: string quartet by Ludwig van Beethoven (TBA)  |  String Quartet no. 12, op. 96, “American” by Antonín Dvořák

Classical music has deep roots in Europe, and few European composers mythologize America better than Dvořák. This quartet is as beautiful as it is well-known, and for good reason. For the second year, FACP will partner with the SMU-Institute for Young Pianists. The week-long intensive will hold a competition among its attendees and the winner will perform on the BBF stage as the July 18 Rising Star recitalist.


July 25

Rising Star*: Marlon Flores Dovales, cello; Pranay Varada, piano; works by Robert Schumann and Claude Debussy

Feature Performance*: Festival Director Alex McDonald, piano; Lewis Warren, piano 

Program*~: Three Marches, Op. 45 by Ludwig van Beethoven  |  Fantasie by Franz Schubert  |  Cuban Overture by George Gershwin  |  Sabre Dance by Aram Khachaturian  |  **WORLD PREMIERE** of the commissioned work Korapiano by Dallas composer-on-the-rise and FACP education program alumnus Quinn Mason

The Festival concludes with music for piano four-hands (two pianists sharing one instrument): Beethoven’s regal Three Marches; the lyrical and haunting Fantasie an undisputed masterpiece by Beethoven’s contemporary Franz Schubert; Gershwin’s joyous Cuban Overture, a piece he considered to be one of his best compositions; Khachaturian’s familiar and exuberant Sabre Dance; and a new piano solo by Quinn Mason, Korapiano, commissioned by FACP. The composer studied the kora, an African harp with 21 strings. Mason says, “this composition utilizes West Aftican folk tunes and incorporates melodic elements and ornamentation usually found in traditional kora playing.”



Now Hear This: an Interview with Julia and Jennifer Choi

Julia Choi with her violin; Jennifer Choi with her cello
Julia Choi & Jennifer Choi

Sisters Julia and Jennifer Choi have their own professional careers in different cities: Julia is a violinist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York City, and Jennifer is a cellist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The pandemic, however, has brought the sisters together in Dallas and FACP gets to enjoy this silver lining: together they will perform with Artistic Director and DSO Principal Harp, Emily Levin, for the next Hallam Family Concert: SHADOWS & LIGHT on Saturday, April 24. REGISTER TODAY! As always, the concert is free but you must register to attend this online concert.

What should attendees listen for in the Renié Trio?   This trio blends the harmonic refinement that characterizes French music with the thematic cohesion typical of the Germanic tradition. We encourage the audience to listen for the wide range of characteristics and colors in the piece: to feel with us the triumphant music-making in the opening, the rustic simplicity of the middle section, juxtaposed with the fantasy, mystery, and drama of the remainder.

Our favorite is the incredibly beautifully poignant and intimate third movement. The last movement opens with an enigmatic introduction, recalling the main themes of the previous movement. While at first, the piece seems to end with uncertainty, it becomes a quick folk-music-inspired one with a festive flourish. It is a hopeful analogy to what we are living today: light at the end of the tunnel.

Notably, we are especially proud of the fact that it was composed by an amazing female composer.

Is chamber music a big part of your personal repertoire?    Yes! We love chamber music and are grateful to be studying and performing the Renié Trio together. We have played many chamber pieces as a string duo, string quartet, and as part of a piano trio, but we have never been part of this type of ensemble, so this is very exciting for us — especially to be playing alongside our friend, Emily Levin!

Two sisters who have both become professional musicians in elite organizations: wow! Did you know early on you wanted to pursue this as your career?    Our mom is a pianist, so we definitely grew up in a musical household. Our doors were always open to other journeys and career paths, so we weren’t solely looking to become professional musicians, but we had an inkling that this would be our path. We loved performing with peers and just being surrounded by music. Our dad likes to joke around and dubs himself the designated “karaoke singer” of the group.

What type of music did you listen to growing up? What do you listen to now?    We listened mostly to classical growing up, but now we listen to all genres. We love listening to anything from K-pop to jazz and hip-hop!

Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? Favorite to play?    We love listening to Schumann and Beethoven. Our favorites to play have to be Mahler or Strauss.

What advice would you give to a high schooler who wants to pursue music as a career?    Everything will eventually work out in the end, so be patient and trust yourself!

What’s your favorite sound? Your least favorite?    Due to the pandemic, Julia has been much deprived of an orchestra warming up right before a concert and tuning to the A. She misses it so much!    Least favorite sound? Probably nails on a chalkboard. One silver lining of online teaching!

When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear?    Beethoven Symphony No. 9: the perfect composition inspired by and reminding us of the triumph of universal brotherhood against war and desperation. Beethoven shares with us the wish for freedom, peace, and equality for all peoples! It is truly inspiring as a composition itself but also because of its message.


Now Hear This: an Interview with Jonathan Cziner

American composer (and recent Dallas transplant) Jonathan Cziner was commissioned to write a new chamber work for this Saturday’s Hallam Family Concert, CLARA’S INFLUENCE. Fine Arts Chamber Players is thrilled to present the World Premiere of “A Household of Three,” Cziner’s piece inspired by the life and work of Clara Schumann. Get to know the composer and a little bit more about the piece.

Jonathan Cziner, composer

What was the genesis of “A Household of Three,” the piece you have composed for the concert?    Emily Levin asked me to write a piece that would pair with Clara Schumann’s trio and I knew I wanted to pay homage directly to her music as well as her husband Robert and her friend Johannes Brahms. Robert and Johannes were more dependent on Clara’s musical guidance and abilities than history would tell us. She was truly at the center of this trio of artists.

What should attendees listen for in the piece?    Listen for various musical quotes of the above-mentioned composers. Many of the works I quoted were written during the time they were living in the same house! Listen for Brahms’ First Piano Trio, First Piano Concerto, and Double Concerto; Robert’s Piano Concerto and Ghost Variations, and Clara’s Piano Concerto & Romances Op. 21.

Is chamber music a big part of your body of work?    For the last few years or so I have been more focused on orchestral music and have been lucky enough to have had my orchestral music performed around the U.S. Since the pandemic started, I have turned my attention more toward chamber music: writing this trio, a piece for harp and guitar, and I am also currently working on a piece for Clarinet and String Quartet.

What instruments did you study, and when did you turn your focus on composing?    I grew up taking piano lessons but as I got into high school, I started composing more and more. Practicing was not my favorite activity, but I loved music, so I wrote my own stuff instead! I didn’t really start studying composition until I got to college.

What type of music did you listen to growing up and what do you listen to now?    My musical taste has always been the same. I have always primarily listened to classical music (Beethoven, Brahms, Ravel, Stravinsky) but I have my favorite popular artists, too. I love the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and Billy Joel. I guess I’m a little old school

Who is your favorite composer to listen to?    MAHLER!

What advice would you give to a high schooler who wants to pursue music as a career?    Bottom line: do what makes you happy, work hard at it, and don’t give up! I was not sure what I wanted to pursue in college when I was in high school, but I knew that I loved music. Once I started down a more serious path I spent (and still spend) hours every day trying to hone my craft and being the best musician and composer I can be! All that being said: the music world is competitive, and you often find yourself dealing with rejection and setbacks. Don’t give up, keep going, and use those rejections to motivate you! I think that this could be applicable to any career path! 

What is your favorite sound?    Favorite sound is hearing the smack of a baseball landing perfectly in the pocket of my glove. Very satisfying. Your least favorite?    One of my least favorite sound is hearing people crack their knuckles.

When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear?    An epic concert of all of Mahler’s symphonies played back-to-back, conducted by Mahler himself, including the 10th symphony (which was left unfinished at the time of his death). I think that’s about 14 or 15 hours of music, but I would happily sit there for the whole thing.


Season Announcement: Hallam Family Concerts, 2020-2021

Chamber music series remains free; registration required

October 17, November 21, January 23, February 27, March 27, April 24, May 22

Adapt. Pivot. Include. Much more than buzzwords, these terms have become a road map for this Dallas institution. Fine Arts Chamber Players (FACP) unveils the 2020–2021 season of its free Hallam Family Concert Series: seven free chamber music programs featuring Dallas’s top professional musicians. As always, the programs are free to enjoy with no admission price. 

“In a time filled with so much uncertainty, I am proud to present FACP’s 2020-2021 season for music lovers to enjoy,” shares Emily Levin, the Hallam Family Concert (HFC) artistic director. “The mission of FACP is to make music accessible to and for everyone, and this season features a broad range of extraordinary artistic voices. It is a season for our most stalwart supporters and for community members who are not too familiar with classical music. FACP remains an easy entry-point for people of all ages and backgrounds.” 

Typically performed in the Horchow Auditorium (Dallas Museum of Art), the 2020-2021 season will be shared online for FACP audiences, and will shift to in-person performances if/when that is an option. 

Executive Director Emily Guthrie explains, “We look forward to being on stage in front of an audience, but we do not know when that will be safe for everyone involved. At a minimum, the first three concerts: October, November, and January, will be online only and we will pivot to in-person concerts as we are able.”

There is, however, one other adaptation being made this season: audience members will have to register online for a viewing link to the performance. Once the concert is over, the material will not be available online to be streamed on demand.

“FACP put out quite a lot of content online this spring and our annual Basically Beethoven Festival was entirely virtual and open to all,” Ms. Guthrie continues. “We have had to adapt, however, to the newness of what’s been programmed for the Hallam concerts. Due to performance rights to the music this season, those who wish to see the performances must register online for the private web links for the concerts.”

This is something new being asked of supporters. All registration details will be shared via e-newsletters, on the FACP website, and social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Concerts are still free, but registration will be required.

Ms. Levin adds, “Each concert features composers and performers that accurately represent our diverse society, and the result is a concert experience that truly is for everyone. Among the many living composers programmed, I’m especially excited to include two Dallas-based composers on our season: Quinn Mason in November and Jonathan Cziner in March.” Mr. Mason will be familiar to FACP followers: he started his musical journey as a scholarship student in FACP education programs (read more here).

Starting last year, this concert series has been sponsored by arts philanthropists and business leaders Fanchon and Howard Hallam. Mr. Hallam shares, “Personally, I am very excited to see what’s been programmed this year: Emily Levin has put together a wonderful mix of traditional chamber music and pieces that are not as well known. Fanchon and I are proud to have our names on a concert series that is inclusive of different voices.”

Ms. Levin sums up, “Music is a universal language, and its power to transcend the everyday has never been more important. Whether virtual or in-person, FACP is committed to bringing excellent musicians and great music to our community.”


Hallam Family Concerts: the 2020-2021 Season

  • Saturday afternoons: October 17, November 21, January 23, February 27, March 27, April 24, May 22 at 3 p.m.
  • FREE, but registration is required
  • All online concerts will premiere at 3 p.m. with interactive elements
  • Complete performances will not be available on demand after the programs end

October 17, 2020: FROM KEYS TO STRINGS

The 2020-2021 Hallam Family Concert season kicks off with a program of piano masterworks brilliantly transcribed for harp and guitar by the Davin-Levin Duo, including Claude Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque and its famous “Clair de Lune,” Florence Price’s nostalgic Three Roses, and György Ligeti’s arresting Musica Ricercata.

Davin-Levin Duo: Colin Davin, guitar; Emily Levin, Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) Principal Harp


November 21, 2020: WHAT IS AND WHAT WILL BE

Dallas-based MAKE Trio returns to our stage with a program of juxtapositions: reality and imagination, past and future, certainty and unknown. Including Béla Bartók’s Contrasts, possibly the most well-known piece for this combination of instruments, MAKE will also perform works by Maurice Ravel, Darius Milhaud, and Dallas composer Quinn Mason.

MAKE Trio: Grace Kang Wollett, violin (Dallas Opera Acting Assistant Concertmaster); Danny Goldman, Dallas Opera clarinet; Mikhail Berestnev, piano


January 23, 2021: BEETHOVEN: MAGNIFIED

It’s an hour of mystery and music, featuring Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Serioso” quartet performed by The Cezanne Quartet, alongside writings by the Queen of Crime herself, Agatha Christie. Can you solve the case? This concert is especially for young listeners and those exploring the world of classical music.

The Cezanne Quartet: Eleanor Dunbar, violin; Lauren Haseltine, violin; Steven Juarez, viola; Elizabeth White, cello


February 27, 2021: AMERICAN VOICES 

In an immersive exploration of America’s diverse composition spectrum, join the principal woodwinds of the Dallas Symphony as they perform an all-American program of virtuoso chamber music, including Samuel Barber’s quintessential Summer Music and living composer Valerie Coleman’s dazzling Tzigane.

David Buck, DSO Principal Flute; Erin Hannigan, DSO Principal Oboe; Gregory Raden, DSO Principal Clarinet; Ted Soluri, DSO Bassoon; David Heyde, DSO Associate Principal Horn and Acting Principal Horn


March 27, 2021: CLARA’S INFLUENCE 

A prodigious pianist and a gifted composer, Clara Schumann was a musical visionary, who also championed and inspired the music of Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. Through her music and her writings, alongside works by Robert Schumann, Brahms, and a new piece by Dallas-based composer Jonathan Cziner based on her letters, discover the voice of one of classical music’s most influential women. 

Maria Schleuning, DSO violin; Jolyon Pegis, DSO Associate Principal Cello; Benjamin Loeb, piano


April 24, 2021: WHERE THE WATER MEETS THE SHORE

In a musical journey from the ocean to the Andean mountains, immerse yourself in sound worlds inspired by the wonders of nature with works for harp, flute, and string trio. William Grant Still’s heavenly “Summerland” opens the program, alongside pieces by Jean Cras and Miguel de Aguila that explore the personal side of the sea, and Gabriela Lena Frank’s rhapsodic ode to ancient Peru.

Ebonee Thomas, Dallas Opera flute; Eunice Keem, DSO Associate Concertmaster (violin); Sarah Kienle, DSO Acting Associate Principal viola; Jeffrey Hood, DSO cello; Emily Levin, DSO Principal Harp


May 22, 2021: STARS OF TOMORROW, the Charles Barr Memorial

The Charles Barr Memorial Concert showcases the best and brightest of Dallas young musicians. Don’t miss the next generation of musical virtuosi.

Click here for a printable schedule.



Announcing: Basically Beethoven Festival-in-Place

In-person concerts move online for 40-year-old music series

Fine Arts Chamber Players announces its flagship series, Basically Beethoven Festival, will not be staged live in July 2020. This year, FACP will record and share Festival performances for the Basically Beethoven Festival-in-Place. Musicians will be recorded in a concert setting and the footage will premiere on FACP’s YouTube channel at the scheduled concert times: July 12, July 19, and July 26 at 2:30 p.m. 

“Because of public health concerns, the logistics to conduct public concerts this summer were daunting if not insurmountable for an organization of our size,” explained FACP Executive Director Emily Guthrie. “I will miss greeting our long-time supporters and new audience members in person. Typically, Festival concerts have an audience of over 500 people. That’s just not possible this summer.”

“A silver lining to moving online,” FACP Board President Anne Witherspoon added, “is that now our performances can be shared with family and friends outside of North Texas. And patrons will have the ability to watch the concerts at their convenience and visit the performances for repeated viewings. FACP is excited to share our vision with our audience, even if the circumstances have changed.”

“In a time where we are reeling from a pandemic, arts events have been cancelled out of necessity,” Basically Beethoven Festival Director Alex McDonald said. “And with the things that trouble us that go even deeper: from sickness to systemic racism, from lost jobs to chronic fear, this is a difficult time to have a festival. However, we at Fine Arts Chamber Players feel that music matters as much as ever. We hope that the first-ever Festival-in-Place does its part to restore and soothe us.” 

He continued, “Festival programming centers around Beethoven’s composition Heiliger Dankgesang which loosely translates as ‘song of Thanksgiving…for recovery from a recent illness.’ Since 2020 is also the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, we wanted to organize our concerts according to styles that preceded Beethoven, a celebration of Beethoven himself, and an exploration of music after Beethoven.”

Each Festival concert begins with a Rising Star Recital highlighting exceptional student musicians from the area, and continues with a Feature Performance, showcasing professionals of the highest caliber. FACP never charges admission for its programs. Donations can be made online: www.fineartschamberplayers.org/donate


July 12: Bach to Beethoven

Rising Star Regina Lin, piano, performs works by Joseph Haydn, Beethoven’s teacher; and Franz Liszt, a composer who felt Beethoven paved the way for future musicians. For the Feature Performance, cellists Andrés Díaz (SMU Professor of Cello) and Joseph Kuipers with Karen Abrahamson-Thomas (Waco Symphony Principal Harp) move from the Baroque to Beethoven’s era through the works of Bach, Boccherini, Maria Theresia von Paradis, and Paganini.

July 19: Beethoven, Basically

For the Rising Star Recital, violinist Nikki Nagavi will be joined by pianist Kyle Orth for Beethoven’s sublime “Spring” sonata, op. 24. Then, featured artists Lucas Aleman (Dallas Symphony violin), Theodore Harvey (DSO Associate Principal Cello), and Festival Director Alex McDonald, piano, will present the “Archduke” trio, op. 97. The concert concludes with Aleman and Harvey joining Grace Kang Wollett (Dallas Opera violin) and Rachel Li McDonald, viola, to perform the sublime middle movement of quartet op. 132, Heiliger Dankgesang (“Holy Song of Thanksgiving for recovery from a recent illness”).

July 26: Beethoven and Beyond!

Rising Stars Bryan Han, cello, and Ashley Tauhert, piano, present the final two movements of Rachmaninoff’s cello sonata; then, Featured Performers take the stage to explore works after Beethoven by composers influenced by the artist.


Alternative Programming: Plus One at 1

FACP is introducing a new series to help brighten your week: Plus One at 1! Each Friday at 1:00, we will share duets from FACP performers on our social media channels. This week features flutist Ebonee Thomas, who performed on our October 2019 Hallam Family Concert: French Impressions. She is joined by FACP Artistic Director Emily Levin in an excerpt of Gabriel Fauré‘s Fantasie.

Look closely and you will see these two artists recorded their segments separately, while sheltering in place at their homes!

We hope the music brings you joy until we can be together in person again. In the meantime, make sure you are on our mailing list and follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Cancellation notice: March 28, 2020

In keeping with the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines, our next Hallam Family Concert, Musica on March 28, has been cancelled. Our host, the Dallas Museum of Art, has cancelled all special events and activities through April 3.

We are disappointed to miss the opportunity to share with you the considerable talent of Elmer Churampi, DSO trumpet; Pepe Valdez, guitar; and Augusto Longas Garcia, percussion. However, we understand the DMA’s decision and care about the health and safety of our audience.

Click here for the CDC’s recommendations. The DMA’s statement can be found here. We will keep you informed about any future changes to our season. If you are on social media, please follow Fine Arts Chamber Players on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram.


Now Hear This: an Interview with Erin Hannigan

If you have attended a performance at the Dallas Symphony, you have heard Erin Hannigan: if not a solo line within a major work, then at the very least you have heard the clarion call of her oboe sailing above the din calling the players to tune. Join us for an afternoon of oboe-centric works by British composers on Saturday, February 29 at English Sentiment, a Hallam Family Concert.

Erin Hannigan, Principal Oboe of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra

What piece on the program are you most excited about? What should we listen for?    I’m really excited to perform the Bliss Oboe Quintet for the first time! All of the pieces on the program are major staples of the oboe repertoire, but the Bliss seems to be performed less often than the Bax or the Britten. The Bliss is full of memorable tunes: everything from the most beautiful and lyrical theme to an Irish jig!

Is chamber music for oboe a big part of the repertoire?    The oboe has been around historically since Bach’s time, the 1600s, so there is a LOT of music written for it. I always consider myself lucky to have repertoire that spans the ages, both orchestral and chamber!

How old were you when you started playing oboe? Why did you choose it?    I started playing the oboe when I was 7 years old; just before third grade. I later found out that this its highly unusual to start on the oboe, and that playing it too soon disrupts brain development due to back pressure! I seem to have turned out ok, I think…When I was trying to decide which instrument to play my dad mentioned his love of the oboe, so I looked it up in the dictionary. It looked like a challenge, so I decided that was what I would do!

What’s it like having a professional music career in Dallas?    Dallas is an amazing place to have a career in the Arts. I have felt embraced through my Symphony position, but I have also felt so much support behind my community outreach initiative. Dallas is such a creative and artistic city! Another angle to my professional life is that I’ve been able to maintain a high-powered oboe studio at SMU. Finding a place where one can have truly top-level performing AND teaching is rare. My work here keeps me exceptionally busy, but I’ve been afforded the ability to accept playing opportunities in other places, such as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, St Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and others. It’s good to travel to other cities and engage with other orchestras and artists. It keeps me aware and in sync with the artistic world at large!

What type of music did you listen growing up? What do you listen to now?    Growing up I listened only to classical, but now I have a far broader appreciation for all types of music. I can be found listening to everything from Bach to Christina Perri!

Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play?    Johann Sebastian Bach is my all-around favorite to listen to and to play!

What advice would you give 14-year-old Erin?    If I could rewind time, I would tell myself to worry less and enjoy the process more. That doesn’t mean to work less hard because I feel that’s a necessity, but to stop more often and enjoy the journey.

What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college?    I tell my high school students who express an interest in majoring in music that they need to make sure that they truly love music and the art of playing the oboe. Pursuing music performance is challenging and extremely competitive and everyone, no matter who, will face challenges and disappointments. The love of it is what will carry them through.

What’s your favorite sound?    Ocean waves   Your least favorite sound?    Nails on a chalkboard

When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear?    Bach B Minor Mass


Now Hear This: An Interview with Laura Bennett Cameron

Dr. Laura Bennett Cameron – performer, teacher, authority on French composer Roger Boutry. Read on to learn more about the musician and her special connection with the pieces on Saturday’s program, WOOD MUSIC.

Photo of Dr. Laura Bennett Cameron with bassoon

What piece on the program are you most excited about? What should we listen for? Oh! That’s a tough one. For me, I think I’m the most excited to play the Poulenc. It’s a standard chamber work for the bassoon, but this will be my first time to play it! I think the Glinka will also be interesting; it’s usually performed with violin or clarinet, so we’re breaking the mold a little using the oboe — but listening to the piece, it’s a natural and beautiful fit. I’m Paris right now, and just put the finishing touches on Rencontres with the sound engineer, and so I’ve got a renewed excitement for that piece, too. This concert will be the work’s Dallas premiere!

You recorded a CD of Roger Boutry’s music WITH Roger Boutry also performing. How did that come about? What was that experience like? Absolutely sublime. Boutry was a big name in French music for most of the 20th century, and we recorded in France. It was like a dream come true to work with a musician of his caliber, with his finesse and technical skill. It could have been terrifying to record a composer’s works with the composer, but he was kind, flexible, and appreciative. The week we recorded that CD will always be one of the high points in my life: making beautiful music, working with a living composer, and enjoying the food and culture of Paris with Parisians.

Is chamber music for bassoon a big part of the repertoire?  It really is. I love playing chamber music for the same reasons many musicians do: the intimacy, sharing creative control over the artistic direction, and the blend of timbres. But being bassoonist who plays chamber music is especially great: the bassoon can play very high, very low, and everywhere in between. So that means we’re equally at home as the supportive bass line, a flexible inner voice, or as the soloist or melody. Chamber music really allows bassoonists to showcase what a unique instrument we play.

How old were you when you started playing bassoon? Why did you choose it? Did you learn other instruments? I actually started on the saxophone! My band director said, “Laura, we have too many saxes. We need more bassoons.” I said, “OK.” I remembered my mom, listening to WRR, saying, “Oh, do you hear that beautiful bassoon?” several times, so I thought it might make her happy. I started in eighth grade. Within just a few months, the bassoon became a part of my body. I was much better at the bassoon than I ever was at the saxophone; I simply fell in love with the instrument. When my sister, a college music major, came home for Christmas that year, I asked her how a person could make a living playing bassoon. She said, “Do you want to play or teach?” I said, “Both!” So she told me to get a doctorate and practice a lot. As a matter of fact, I met Emily Levin playing chamber music during my doctorate!


What type of music did you listen growing up?
As I mentioned earlier, my mother had great taste in classical music, so I got to hear a lot of WRR. For an amateur singer, my mother had a surprising amount of baroque period instrument recordings, so I heard a lot of Bach and Mozart growing up. I didn’t realize until much later how fortunate I was to have those excellent recordings in my ear from a young age.

What do you listen to now? I’m ashamed to admit that I listen to a lot of pop. Like, Top 40, usually-not-that-creative pop. :-\  Heaven help the person who hears me in my car or the shower!

Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play? Such thought-provoking questions! To listen, perhaps Beethoven or Stravinsky. They’re very different but engage the listener with equally complex music. I think to play, it’s probably Mozart. His music requires technique, but even more finesse. It’s playful and sophisticated, and at times fraught with more emotion than most classical music. Mozart and really comes alive with the right interpretation, and I love creating that interpretation with others.

What advice would you give 14-year-old Laura? Listen to more –and better–bassoon recordings! There’s more repertoire out there than you think. Hang on every word your bassoon teacher says. And you should practice with a metronome more.

What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college?  (1) Find someone who does what you want to do when you graduate. Ask them how they got there. (2)  Know what you want to sound like, and truly listen to yourself when you practice. You’ll never make worthwhile changes to your playing because someone tells you to: you will only improve when you’re not satisfied with the distance between yourself and your goal.

What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical), and your least favorite sound (musical or non-musical)?  My favorite sound is either my husband’s voice (sappy, I know), or the sound of my dog running to greet me at the door.


When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear? Hmm…I want to hear Brahms tell me he’s written a sonata for bassoon and piano, and I’m just in time to hear the heavenly premiere.