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Brian G. McKee, D.M.A.

Bassoonist | Teacher | Academic Counselor | Ensemble Performer | Recitals | Reed Making | Freelance Music Consulting



New Music, New Season, New Beginning

Posted by Brian G. McKee on 1 September, 2012 at 2:45

Is it nearly September already? Time has certainly flown by and August seems like almost always the shortest month of the year for me. It has always been a month of adjustment, transition, new discoveries, and inspiration. I've most definitely learned a lot this summer, short as it may have been, but I hope to apply all the things I've learned toward a new path for myself in graduate school.

This past June, I graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance. What wonderful, unforgettable experiences I had there that I will savor for the rest of my life. It seems like so long ago now, looking back on it and remembering all of the hustle and bustle and pressure of getting everything possible done before graduation. Sometimes it's nice to reflect and think, "Wow, I really did it! I got all that done in four years?!" As I continue to look back on how much I grew as a person and as a musician, I get even more excited for years to come in my next chapter.

Shortly after graduation, I went on a nice family vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and spent a wonderful week adventuring around there. I then returned to Eugene with my dad to move out the rest of my stuff out of my apartment and into storage before the next leg of the journey. It was definitely hard packing up and taking everything away from there, as it had been my life for the past four years. I left Eugene with a sense of accomplishment, yet was nervous, sad, and excited all at the same time for what was to come.

After coming home from Oregon, I spenf my last few weeks of summer getting ready for my next chapter of education, with some needed relaxation thrown in here and there. Earlier this year I applied for and was accepted to a chamber music festival in New York City- The Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival at the Juilliard School. Having applied to several other summer festivals, I am so glad I was able to have a choice, and choosing NYC led to one of the best musical experiences of my life so far.

The ten-day festival, spanning from late July to early August, was hosted by the world famous wind quintet Imani Winds, comprised of some of the country's finest chamber musicians working and living in New York City. All the festiva participants were split up into fifteen or so chamer groups, mainly wind quintets, trios, quartets, and sextets. I myself was assigned to two groups, and though I was first intimidated by taking on responsibilities of learning music for two groups in ten days, I think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

My first group was a traditional wind quintet and we were assigned two major works- Paquito D'Rivera's Wapango and György Ligeti's famous Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet. Both pieces turned out wonderfully and I couldn't have asked for better players to play with who also became my good friends. The same went for my other quintet, a mixed quintet with piano, flute, clarinet, bassoon, and violin. This group functioned a bit differently, as we played all world premieres for the final culmination concert, and explored the wonders of playing new music together. I can't even explain how fantastic and uplifting this experience was, and from this I decided that I would love a future career in chamber music. The rest of the festival was entertaining and rewarding in every way, consisting of masterclasses from outstanding visiting artists (including Frank Morelli, bassoon), outreach workshops, daily coachings, and concerts from the members of Imani Winds, working directly with emerging composers, and bonding experiences with amazingyoung musicians from all over the country (and the world) who I'd previously never met. I enjoyed some tourist time around Manhattan and around town as well, which is always fun! Everything about my time here can pretty much be summed up from a status I posted before I left:

"I had an absolutely fantastic time playing in the 2012 Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival! I consider myself so lucky to have been a part of all this, and I leave New York City feeling newly inspired, confident, and artistically rejuvenated. Never will I take for granted the opportunity to communicate and perform through the universal language of music with amazingly talented musicians who l'd previously never met in my life, and who I will always remember as wonderful friends. I hope to walk away from here a more confident musician and hopefully a better person, appreciating every opportunity in my artistic future. Thank you, Imani Winds, for helping me reignite my passion for music as a lifestyle!" Check out some of my photos from the festival:" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">

All this, and now I'm beginning a new chapter of my life in a new part of the country. I've now moved to Tempe, Arizona to study bassoon at Arizona State University for my MM in Performance. That's right, I'm one of the crazies that moved from the Northwest to the Southwest. As I continue to get adjusted to the new environment (including the HOT Phoenix summer), I'm learning to appreciate the opportunity and beauty this region has to offer. It is really quite something out here, and I look forward to exploring a part of the country that I'd previously been unfamiliar with. My apartment is nice and rather spacious, too!

We had our first real week of school this past week, and things are starting to pick up after a bit of a slow beginning. I've had two great lessons with my new teacher, bassoonist Albie Micklich, and I'm looking forward to a productive and rewarding couple of years with the ASU bassoon studio, who are a really fun bunch of people. I know I will continue to build upon everything I learned at UO with new concepts and experiences at ASU. I will also be starting my new job as a performance assistant at Music Celebrations International, helping coordinate tours for ensembles all over the country. This will be a great experience for me in a field other than performane, and I know it will help me grow as a musician. This fall will be great, and I can't wait get involved in everything to come. Event details to come soon, and will update when I know of all my upcoming concerts!

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