Exploring the Bassoon’s Endless Potential with Dana Jessen

One thing that bassoonist Dana Jessen prides herself on is not feeling satisfied with the limitations of the instrument. A classically trained musician who forged her own path in contemporary music and improvisation, Jessen has enjoyed a wide-ranging career as a performer, teacher, and collaborator throughout North America and Europe. But the road to get there wasn’t always easy.

As a graduate student eager to expand beyond the boundaries of her classical training, she was frustrated to realize there were virtually no bassoonists pursuing a similar approach. At that point, “I truly felt that I had made the biggest mistake by not choosing another instrument, because there was nobody doing all the stuff that I wanted to do on the bassoon,” she said during a recent interview. So, how did Jessen eventually fulfill her artistic vision? She improvised.

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