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2023 Year Recap

Updated: Mar 20

Better late than never they say! What's two months and two days compared to sharing all of the wonderful things that occurred in 2023!


A few noteworthy highlights that didn't make the list below include the AMAZING growth that my private studio has been fortunate enough to have. We ended 2023 with 15 students across 3 locations throughout New Jersey, even after losing 3 seniors after the 22-23 school year. I was also so happy to have been able to send an undergraduate student out to the music world! She is now studying with the wonderful Dr. Remy Taghavi at UMass Amherst. Another highlight for the year was winning my very first audition! I'm currently wrapping up the penultimate concert with the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes as their Principal Bassoon!


Read about this and more from 2023 (links included) below!



Table of Contents

*Click on a month to skip down the page*



January

Events

 19th - Bassoon Workshop w/ Westfield High School

Mr. Vitale invited me to work with his 3 bassoonists at Westfield High School, and introduce a prospective bassoonist to the instrument! It was a great workshop/presentation, and the beginning of a wonderful partnership I'd love to form with the many schools and music programs of NJ.


 21st - YouTube Video "Word Salad" by Logan Rutledge

Take a listen to the web premiere of this exciting work for bassoon & piano by composer Logan Rutledge. Listen now! Here's an excerpt from Logan's program notes for the work:

"Word Salad is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a jumble of extremely incoherent speech." While originally used to describe speech patterns in schizophrenia, the term has made its way into the vernacular in describing the unintelligible rantings of powerful people in society. These word salads are often used to obfuscate the truth, to make one's language sound so complicated that it could only be understood by an elite few, or by the speaker alone."

Featuring: Shuting Ye, Piano


February

Events

 24th & 26th - Performing Mozart's "Don Giovanni" w/ Light Opera of New Jersey

One of the things I've enjoyed most about my performing schedule since moving to New Jersey has been the multitude of operas I've been able to learn and perform! Mozart's Don Giovanni was great fun, and playing with good friends makes it even better! Read a lovely review of the performance here.


 28th - Bassoon Sectionals w/ NJYS

Working with the two bassoonists in the top ensemble at New Jersey Youth Symphony was a treat! Going over repertoire including Walker's Icarus in Orbit; Higdon's Cold Mountain Suite; and Bond's Montgomery Variations. Such a joy to work with talented young players!


March

 12th - Room to Breathe CD Launched

Room to Breathe was launched on this date! I have an entire page dedicated to this project, check it out if you haven't heard otherwise!


 20th through 28th - YouTube Videos for Room to Breathe posted

Over the span of one week I launched the BEAUTIFUL final videos for this project on my YouTube channel. Please take a listen!

Featuring: Calvin Hu, Piano


April

 25th - Final DMA Recital

My journey in pursuit of the Doctor of Musical Arts came to its end on April 25th! My final recital featured works by Antoine Dard, Marie Véra Maixandeau, Alain Bernaud, Édouard Dupuy and Francisco Mignone, check out the recordings embedded and below!


May

Events

 5th - Performance w/ Choral Arts Society of New Jersey

I was invited to join a pickup group for the Spring performance of the Choral Arts Society of New Jersey. It was a lovely time performing Beethoven's Choral Fantasy and Ode to Joy. Looking forward to the next one!


 9th - CD Review "NACWPI Journal"

The very first review of Room to Breathe came from the National Association of Collegiate Wind and Percussion Instructors Journal by Dr. Kristin Nelson. The review was incredibly kind and inspiring for all involved with the project to read. Read it at this blogpost!


 17th - Stony Brook University Doctoral Hooding

I officially was hooded as "Dr. Swift" on May 17th!


June

No Events to speak of! This month was entirely absorbed by my work planning and managing the month long Princeton Festival. It was a very rewarding experience, however I was very happy to return to the instrument as soon as possible once the festival ended, and I caught up on some sleep!


July

Events

 12th - YouTube Video "House of Mirrors" by Nathan Daughtrey

The first recording of Project Darkwood was a blast! House of Mirrors by Nathan Daughtrey

is a work that inspired the creation of our ensemble of bassoon, marimba and vibraphones. It was a pleasure launching this ensemble with my colleagues Adam Beard and Dan Pate, and we're looking forward to more in the future! Program note on the work by Nathan:

"House of Mirrors was inspired by the Japanese folk tale “The House of 1,000 Mirrors.” At its simplest, the tale shows us that we get back what we put into the world. From the first notes of the piece, you can hear the reflections of the mirrors, which manifest themselves in many ways throughout."


August

Events

 3rd - Performance of "Organ Symphony" at The Great Auditorium

My second performance via Dr. Jason Tramm at The Great Auditorium did not disappoint! It was a joy to join Atao Liu and Susanne Chen for this work, a fun and talented section for certain! Works also performed by Gounod and Mendellsohn. Listen to the recording below!


 25th - CD Review "IDRS Journal"

The SECOND review of Room to Breathe came from the International Double Reed Society's 2nd publication of it's 4th volume of The Double Reed Journal. The review was written by a bassoon mentor of mine, Dr. Ryan Reynolds, and was incredibly kind and inspiring for me to personally read. The review is linked below, and the blogpost contains excerpts alongside the full print. Take a read now!

 27th - Performance w/ Garden State Symphonic Band

My first performance with the Garden State Symphonic Band was super fun! This is a wonderful union group that performs outdoors in Bayview Park in Perth Amboy NJ. Probably one of my favorite experiences playing in both a concert band, and marches as a bassoonist. Looking forward to future performances with this wonderful group!


September

Events

 2nd - CD Review "TheWholeNote"

The THIRD review of Room to Breathe came from Fraser Jackson via The WholeNote 2023 Summer Magazine (Volume 28, Issue 6). It was also featured in their "Listening Room" Alongside other wonderful recordings. Here is the review post in full, take a read and listen if you haven't already!


 7th - Symphony in C Orchestra Audition

Audition #1 of the Fall season was held in Philadelphia for Symphony in C. This was a one-round principal bassoon AND second bassoon non-blind audition, something fairly unique in the industry. Unfortunately, I did win either seat, but was added to the sub list! After winning a spot, this is your most favorable outcome as musicians are all busy people, and you're bound to get a call! How you prepare, rehearse and perform when the opportunity comes determines how frequently you'll get said call :) more to come!


 8th - Consortium Announcement for David Biedenbender

David and I announced a wonderful opportunity for a crowd-funded work written for bassoon and piano. This roster features 26 bassoonists from around the United States, all jumping in to support the creation of a work by David. I'm looking forward to sharing the work with the world very soon with a web premiere, and for the consortium to give a world premiere in the coming months!


 9th - Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes Audition

Audition #2 of the Fall season was a good one! My FIRST ever job won was on this day, September 9th. This audition was a testament to keeping your head up and staying the course with consistent preparation. I won the position of Principal Bassoon with the OSFL, and am looking forward to many concerts in the future for the communities of Corning/Elmira New York!


 17th - YouTube Video "Summer Music" by Samuel Barber

The first recording of Continuum Wind Quintet is a classic! Summer Music is a piece that all wind players have heard of, if not performed. It's has a few notoriously difficult sections that throw off even the most experienced player! If you haven't heard the recording of our ensemble, check it out below!

Featuring: KaiChen Cheng, Flute; Noah Kay, Oboe; Danny Mui, Clarinet; Will de Vos, Horn; Joseph Swift, Bassoon


 21st/22nd - NJYS YO wind & YS bassoon sectionals

The New Jersey Youth Symphony brought me in to work with the full woodwind section of their Youth Orchestra, and the bassoon section of their Youth Symphony. It was wonderful to help bring the music together for these sections, and fun to conduct again! First time in a long time...I later joined them on stage for the performance! Continue reading for details :)


 26th - New York Philharmonic Audition

Audition #3 of the Fall season was the biggest one by far. The position of Associate Principal Bassoon, one of the most coveted positions in the world drew over 100 bassoonists from around the world. Due to external factors, I was not on top of my game and did not advance. While this is incredibly disappointing, it was a valuable lesson learned for future audition preparations. More to come in the future!


October

Events

 11th - Grammy Results for Room to Breathe (long listed)

While we unfortunately didn't make the short list to be able to officially consider ourselves "Grammy nominated", it was great news to learn that we were one layer below that! We were "long listed" (I believe this is a real term) for the category of Best Engineered Album, Classical. HUGE shoutout to Rod Shepard for his work, Dillon Meacham for producing, and Calvin Hu for his incredible playing. LISTEN TO THE CD.


 12th - Performance w/ York Symphony Orchestra & Pink Power

It's been a few years since I had last played with the YSO, but it was well worth the wait to join this wonderful event. Pink Power was an outdoor event held in a baseball stadium in York PA to celebrate breast cancer survivors, featuring excerpts from famous and popular musicals performed by the orchestra. Sitting next to Stephen Rudman as well was a perk of the gig :)


 14th - Performance w/ The Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes

My debut performance as Principal Bassoon with the OSFL was fantastic. I opened my time with the ensemble on Mendelssohn 4 and Haydn's Trumpet Concerto, performed brilliantly by Principal Trumpet Frank Campos. Looking forward to many future concerts with this ensemble for the communities of Corning & Elmira NY!


 19th - Ringer Performance w/ Rutgers Univeristy

Thank you to Dr. Todd Nichols for the invitation to come support & play with the Rutgers University Symphony Winds! My return to band playing has been long overdo, and honestly pretty fun! Looking forward to more in the future.


 28th - Ringer Performance w/ New Jersey Youth Symphony

Always nice to sit in with youth orchestras, especially when I have the opportunity to play next to two of my students in two different ensembles! The kids all sounded wonderful, and Patriots Theater at War Memorial in Trenton is a lovely venue.


 29th - Performance w/ Symphony in C x Bucks County Chamber Choir

The sublist call for Symphony in C came early! I joined the ensemble as principal bassoon for this performance of Bruckner's Mass in D Minor & Bond's Credo (featuring a VERY "interesting" bassoon solo...) in Buck's County PA. This was a smaller orchestration for the ensemble, and featured an almost entirely Temple University 2nd row of winds if I hadn't been there. Making new friends and playing with new ensembles is one of the best parts of being a musician in my opinion!


November

Events

 1st & 2nd - Educational Performances w/ York Symphony Orchestra

I spent a fantastic week in York PA to start the month with the lovely musicians of the York Symphony Orchestra! We presented two school-day concerts for local students introducing excerpts from Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations before playing the full work. It was a joy to sit next to Robin Plant, and something I hope to return to very soon!


 4th - Performance w/ York Symphony Orchestra

This wonderful week cultivated in a final performance with the YSO featuring works by Coleridge-Taylor, Smyth and Elgar (special guest appearance by Zagnut bars from Santa!).


 5th - Wharton Wind Quintet Performance

The debut performance of the Wharton Wind Quintet went very well! I'm so thankful for my colleagues Noah Kay, Dan Choi, Blair Hamrick and Dana Nix joining me on this performance! This ensemble highlights the teaching artists at Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts' Performing Arts School, striving to serve as an example for our students for what is possible on the instrument! Works performed by Beach, Ewazen, Crowe and Taffanel.


 6th - Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Audition

Audition #4 of the Fall season was held at the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. This was a principal bassoon audition, and one that I was incredibly happy with how I played at. Unfortunately, I did not advance out of the first round. While these results are frustrating when weighed against my own self evaluation, it is all part of what we as musicians sign up for in this industry. Most of the time, we do not know what the committee on the other side of the screen is listening for, and can only put our interpretation out there and hope to give them either an easy YES or a difficult deliberation. On to the next!


 9th - Cavalleria Rusticana performance

Always a joy to join one of Dr. Jason Tramm's performances! This one was no exception, a staged "sitzprobe-like" performance of Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" was great fun to be a part of, and received wonderful critical review! Take a listen!


 16th - Performances w/ LUX Symphony Orchestra

Back to Back to BACK performances in one day for children with the LUX Symphony Orchestra in South Orange NJ were wonderful, but even more wonderful was reconnecting with friends from undergrad at WMU and masters at UofM! One of my favorite things about this field is how connected we all are, it's such a small world that you're bound to run into people all the time, and sometimes in the last place you'd expect :) performed excerpts from Beethoven 5, Firebird, Star Wars and an original work by the fantastic conductor Brent Chancellor.


 20th - YouTube Video "Conspiracy Theory" by Roger Zare

Take a listen to the web premiere of this wonderful work for bassoon & piano by composer Roger Zare. Listen now! Here's an excerpt from Zare's program notes for the work:

"This piece is about the propagation of conspiracy theories and the obsession that many hold towards them. The music starts plainly, with a searching lyrical melody in the bassoon supported by calm repeated chords in the piano. Suddenly, a very pointed and dissonant gesture rings out from the piano, interrupting the serenity of the opening. Moments later, this same gesture infects the bassoon part, interrupting its plaintive melody. Unable to forget about this new idea, the music becomes increasingly desperate to return to the opening melody, but instead surges forward, doubling in speed and becoming aggressive and rhythmic. As the two instruments continue to trade ideas, the aggression builds without an end in sight."

Featuring: Shuting Ye, Piano


 22nd - CD Review "Take Effect"

The most recent (as of writing this recap) review of Room to Breathe came from Tom Haugen via TakeEffectReviews.com. Here is the review post in full, take a read and listen if you haven't already!


 17th & 18th - Performances w/ The Lancaster Chorale

'Tis the season for holiday-themed concerts! This one brought me out to Lancaster, PA to join an orchestral accompaniment of The Lancaster Chorale. A beautiful venue, two extremely well attended concerts, and my first time playing with Hanul Park! Great colleagues, great music, great audience, what else do we need?


 20th - Celtic Women Performance

Believe it or not, joining Celtic Women on stage for a Christmas-themed concert was not on my bassoon bingo sheet for 2023! This was a lovely pick up group to play with, and a great concert to be a part of (fog machine in eyes included).



December 2023

 7th - Ringer Performance w/ Rutgers University Symphony Winds

December started with a return to the campus of Rutgers University! I was more than happy to return and play with Rutgers University's Symphony Winds for their December concert. The ensemble played Magnolia Star, George Washington Bridge, Internet Symphony, and Internal Combustion. Side note; does anyone else think that works for band have much cooler names than anything written for orchestra? Just me?


 9th - Performance w/ Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes

My second concert as Principal Bassoon with the OSFL was a holiday performance! Hosted in the beautiful Clemens Center in Elmira, NY, the orchestra played a medley of holiday tunes accompanied by the Choir of the Southern Finger Lakes, then featured 3 works with children's choir from a local school, AND played selections from the Nutcracker suite with a local ballet company. The kids all did wonderful, and the group sounded phenomenal! If you haven't made your way North for an OSFL performance, March is the next one! I'll be there, alongside my section made David Reisig (pictured below).


 10th - Ringer Performance w/ New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra

It was a lovely experience coming back to the Youth Orchestra program I supported all throughout 2022 and into 2023 as a ringer! They launched a new Repertory Orchestra that I was so happy to play for, many young and talented kids learning to play in an orchestra alongside collegiate and professional players! This is absolutely something I would have loved at their age, and playing Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 Movement 2 is always fun, but especially when Miguel Posadas is your section-mate :)


 17th - Nutcracker Performance w/ New Jersey Symphony & New Jersey Ballet

My debut performance with the New Jersey Symphony! After roughly a 1.5 years of administrative work with the organization, it was a wonderful experience to jump to the other side of the music stand! The ensemble was phenomenal, and a wonderful experience overall performing at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. While this is my second Nutracker ballet (first in 2014 at WMU w/ Moscow National Ballet Company), this was an especially challenging reduction and much higher stakes! Looking forward to the next time I get to sit with this group :)


 19th - Reed Making Workshop at Lyndhurst High School

I was fortunate enough to work out a visit to Lyndhurst High School in New Jersey with band director James Chwalyk to give a presentation/workshop on reed making! Joined by Noah Kay, we worked with the bassoon and oboe students to talk about the reed making process, working on "store-bought" reeds, and general tools and tips to know for beginner-level adjustments.


 21st - New Jersey Youth Symphony Arts Double Reed Camp Announcement

The year ended with a wonderful announcement for the New Jersey Youth Symphony Double Reed Camp! I'll be directing this camp alongside my friend and colleague Kenny Bader, bringing opportunities on reed making, auxiliary instruments, chamber ensembles and bassoon choir(!) to middle & high school bassoon & oboe students all around NJ! I could not be more excited, and hope to use this program to continue growing the bassoon population in this state into a powerhouse!



If you made it this far you're amazing! Thank you for reading through everything, and look forward to an even more jam-packed 2024!


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