22 Sep 2009
Lori Wike, principal bassoon, on Williams' "Five Sacred Trees" Bassoon Concerto
1. How old were you when you started playing the bassoon?
I started playing the bassoon at age 11 when I entered junior high school.
2. Where did you grow up/go to school?
I grew up in Fayetteville, NC. I attended the North Carolina School of the Arts for my senior year of high school, then I went to the Eastman School of Music where I received my B.M. and Performer’s Certificate. In something of a career detour, I then did my M.A. at UC-Irvine in Comparative Literature where I studied film, literature and critical theory. I subsequently returned to performing when I won a position with the New World Symphony.
3. Do you play any other instruments?
I also play the contrabassoon. When I was younger, I played the trombone as well.
4. When and how did you fall in love with 1) music and 2) the bassoon?
I fell in love with music and the bassoon almost immediately after I began playing. By the 8th grade I had decided I wanted to become a professional bassoonist. In the 3rd grade I had wanted to be a punk rock star, so becoming a bassoonist was just the natural trajectory.
5. Does your instrument have a name?
My first bassoon was christened “Herbert” at a youth orchestra concert many, many years ago. My current instrument doesn’t have a name.
6. What are some of your extra-musical hobbies?
I recently adopted a beautiful retired racing greyhound, Sunset Dream, and I love taking her for walks each day. I also enjoy running, reading and roller-skating.
7. What advice would you give to young, future musicians?
I don’t discourage them from pursuing a career in performance, but I try to get them to understand how incredibly competitive this field is and how difficult it is to make a living as a performer. Typically, students don’t really understand the kind of commitment that is necessary.
8. Tell us about John Williams’ The Five Sacred Trees Concerto for Bassoon.
This will be the first time I have performed The Five Sacred Trees. The piece was written for the 150th anniversary celebration of the NY Philharmonic for their principal bassoonist, Judith Le Clair. Interestingly enough, as a freshman at Eastman, I took the train into NYC for the weekend and heard the premiere in 1995, which was a very exciting experience for me. So I am especially pleased to have the opportunity to perform the work and introduce such a wonderful concerto to our Salt Lake audience. The Five Sacred Trees takes ancient Celtic mythology as its subject and each movement bears the name of one of the legendary sacred trees. I think the audiences will find the work to be as fascinatingly evocative and atmospheric as some of Williams’ well-known film scores, although I would describe the piece as, overall, quite different in character from the film scores. It is extremely virtuosic in places, as in the movement entitled “Craeb Uisnig” in which the ash tree is depicted by a rather fast and furious ghostly battle. I am especially fond of the lyrical moments in the work, such as can be found in the movement which celebrates the “Tree of Ross” and in which the rhapsodic lines of the bassoon are accompanied by harp.
Editor’s Note: Lori Wike will perform The Five Sacred Trees with the Utah Symphony on Sept 25 – 26, click here for more info!
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