Bassoonplayer Kathleen McLean studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and started her career as principal bassoonist with the Toronto Symphony before moving to Indiana where she now teaches as bassoon professor of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. She has performed with famous orchestras like the London Symphony, Boston Symphony, World Orchestra for Peace. She has worked with some of the greatest composers and conductors during her career including Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Celibidache, Pierre Boulez, Valery Gergiev, Witold Lutoslawski, Krsysztof Penerecki, Essa Pekka Salonen, Peter Eotvos, Elliot Carter, John Adams to name a few.
She is a member of Canada’s most acclaimed chamber music ensembles, Octagon and has been a founding member of the Toronto Wind Quintet, Caliban Bassoon Quartet and has made several recordings with these ensembles as well as solo recording “Nightsongs” featuring commissions of several Canadian composers of chamber music for bassoon and the Accordes String Quartet. Her career focus is now mostly on solo and chamber music performances and she is an advocate of promoting and commissioning and recording new pieces by living composers.
Kathleen also is recently delving into other genres of music and has made recordings in collaboration with Chiel Meijering 5 new CD’s of electro pop tracks as featured artist. This month, she will be performing in Indianpolis as a member of the back up band for the rock band The Who which takes the instrument into a whole new direction in the pop world. Kathleen was attracted to Meijering’s music, one of Holland’s leading composers who has added to the Donemus collection an enormous amount of new works written for the bassoon (over 120 works).
Starting in 2016, McLean approached Meijering about writing a piece for a recording project she had in mind while on a sabbatical in 2016. Meijering began reworking some of his recorder concertos for bassoon and strings and then was inspired to carry on with original works for the instrument because of McLean’s enthusiasm and her international success. She liked the combined elements in his style of elements of rock and pop along with minimalism, fold and influences by the old great masters. His writing style aesthetically struck her immediately and was very interested in commissioning new pieces in order to give the bassoon a sexy place as a virtuosic solo instrument on concert stages.
This has developed in a highly productive collaboration between Chiel Meijering and Kathleen McLean over the last two years, producing high energy, provocative, and appealing pieces for the instrument, several recordings and performance premieres of these already produced. The mutual inspiration between McLean and Meijering continues with several new performances and projects planned for the future. So much music, yet to be performed. She is certain that she will never be able to perform all of these works in her lifetime and it is her mission to perpetuate this magical outpouring of Meijering’s bassoon masterworks onto the concert stages of future generations of players.
It is without a doubt, that Chiel Meijering has made a historic and monumental contribution to the world of double reeds. On July 15, Kathleen McLean will be premiering Meijering’s concerto Highlander’s Farewell for bassoon and strings (2017/revised 2019) at the International Double Reed Conference in Tampa, Florida. This piece was dedicated to her and with the title, refers to her Scottish roots. The piece is filled with Celtic ideas as well as pop and minimalist elements and references to old composers all part of McLean’s musical background. McLean will also be premiering a new woodwind trio dedicated to her by Meijering in mid June, 2019 in Toronto Canada and there are also plans to play a Meijering octet with the Octagon ensemble in Canada on their next Ontario tour in November 2019,
For more information about Kathleen McLean