School of Music

Bassoonist Wren Saunders to Present “An Evening of Chamber Music for Winds and Strings” at USM School of Music

Wren Saunders

March 14, 2014


GORHAM, Maine – University of Southern Maine School of Music artist faculty and acclaimed local musicians will perform “An Evening of Chamber Music for Winds and Strings” later this month in Corthell Concert Hall.

Wren Saunders, bassoon, who joined the USM School of Music faculty in the fall of 2013, will lead the Faculty Concert Series presentation. Joining Saunders will be Robert Lehmann, violin; Matt Watras, viola; William Rounds, cello; George Calvert, bass; Tom Parchman, clarinet; John Boden, horn; and George Lopez, piano. 

Lehmann, Rounds, Parchman and Boden are USM artist faculty, and Watras, Calvert, and Lopez are well-known Maine musicians.

The details of the concert are:

  • “An Evening of Chamber Music for Winds and Strings,” 8 p.m., Friday, March 28, Corthell Concert Hall, USM Gorham campus, 37 College Ave., Gorham; tickets: $15, general public, $10, seniors, USM employees and alumni, $5, students; call (207) 780-5555 or go to http://usm.maine.edu/music/boxoffice.

“I am thrilled to collaborate with such an amazing group of faculty and friends on this concert,” Saunders said recently. “While I am new to the USM faculty, I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with each of these fine musicians for many years. This performance not only will showcase the bassoon, but it also will feature the virtuosic playing of my fabulous colleagues.” 

The program will begin with Saunders and Lopez performing the Sonata for Bassoon and Piano, Opus 168 by French composer Camille Saint Saëns. 

“The Saint Saëns piece is a gem of the bassoon repertoire, and bassoonists are so lucky to have it,” Saunders said. “The sonata shows off the beautiful lyric quality of the bassoon as well as fully challenging its technical agility.”

Lehmann, Watras and Rounds will join Saunders for François Devienne’s Quartet for Bassoon, Violin, Viola, and Cello, Opus 73 in G minor.

“Devienne could perhaps be described as the ‘French Mozart,’ because he composed very much in the classical style of Mozart and Haydn,” the bassoonist said, noting that Devienne and Mozart were three years apart in age. “Devienne was a virtuoso of the flute and bassoon, and he composed a large number of works for these instruments.”

Lehmann, Rounds, Parchman and Boden will join Saunders to perform Franz Hasenöhrl’s arrangement of “Till Eulenspiegel, Einmal Anders!” -- which translates to “for once, differently!” -- composed by Richard Strauss.

“This arrangement brings Strauss' original work to its essence, reducing the work to eight minutes from its original 15 minutes and giving five musicians the job of a full orchestra,” Saunders said. “For such a short piece, the musicians will be put to the test, and the audience will thoroughly enjoy this creative and lively rendition.”

The concert will close with Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat, Opus 20, which will include all of the evening’s musicians with the exception of Lopez. Saunders noted that the piece is “an enormous chamber work and is a favorite of musicians and audiences.”

Saunders received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern Maine and a Master’s of Music degree in bassoon performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. Saunders is a member of the Orchestra of Indian Hill in Massachusetts, is principal bassoon of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and is a former member of the Knoxville Symphony of Tennessee. In 2007, she was a concerto soloist with the BSO.

As an active freelancer, Saunders has played with the region’s top orchestras, including the Portland Symphony Orchestra, PORTopera orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Philharmonic, ProArte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, Vermont Symphony and Rhode Island Philharmonic. Saunders can be heard playing principal bassoon with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra performing ”Violin Concerto, No. 6” on Mark O’Connor’s “Americana Symphony” CD.

Saunders has a vibrant and successful bassoon studio from which her students are regularly accepted into Maine All-State festivals, the USM Youth Ensembles, New England Conservatory’s Youth Orchestras and the Boston Youth Orchestras in Massachusetts. In addition to her position at USM, Saunders is a faculty member at Gordon College of Massachusetts and the Portland Conservatory of Music. 

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