Classical Musicians and Their Instruments
Photo Essay by Bret Brookshire
Kristin Wolfe JensenKristin Wolfe Jensen is in her sixth year as the bassoon professor at the UT School of Music. This fall, she released her first solo CD, Shadings, on the Equilibrium label.
"People often ask how in the world I chose this funny-looking instrument, which is almost as tall as I am. I was playing flute in my middle-school band in Storrs, Connecticut, in seventh grade. The band had 30 members, and 15 of them played the flute. I had a passion for music already and felt that I had to make a bigger splash than I was making as one of 15 flutists. I had seen the bassoon from afar, and although I did not know what it sounded like, I knew that by playing it I could be different and have my own voice as a musician. It's been a love affair ever since.
"My bassoon is made by the Heckel company in Germany, which is known as the top of the line worldwide. I ordered it when I was a junior in college, having to choose its color and many of its unique features on an order form that was very poorly translated into English. It is made of mountain maplewood, which is cured many years to help develop the rich tone. All the holes are hand-measured and drilled, and the keys are made of nickel silver.
"I make my own reeds from bamboo cane -- a lengthy process for someone who never enjoyed woodworking. Each reed has its own personality of tone, pitch, response, volume, and that personality changes with its age, and with weather variations. They are mercurial little things!"