Chandler man has become an acclaimed bassoonist - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler man has become an acclaimed bassoonist

October 28th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Chandler man has become an acclaimed bassoonist
Arts
1

By Srianthi Perera, Contributor

When Joseph Kluesener looked to excel in a musical instrument, he chose the bassoon.

The woodwind instrument is expensive to purchase and maintain and requires many years of dedicated learning for mastery.

“My personal motivator was to really find out what I could achieve, and if I could reach a level that even professionals admired,” said the Chandler resident, who is today one of a few acclaimed bassoonists in Arizona and beyond.

Kluesener, who holds a doctoral academic degree in music and is an adjunct faculty member at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, also runs a home studio for learners of the bassoon. He is also the founder of the local reed quintet, Paradise Winds.

The journey has been long and taken time, patience and persistence.

“And (it) comes at different points for different artists,” he said. “Committing to a structure of learning is very important, as well a structure of “going outside your comfort zone” to understand the true depth of one’s capability.

“It can be magical and rewarding for some, as well can be a nightmarish stress fest for others,” he added.

Kluesener observed the magic when as a child he viewed a Disney production of “Peter and the Wolf,” the Russian symphonic fairy tale by Sergei Prokofiev.

As the narrator told the story, the orchestra and Disney animation illustrated it with different instruments.

The deep voice of Peter’s grandfather was represented by the bassoon and the young boy found it entertaining. He was hooked.

“The bassoon has a tone quality reminiscent of mighty trees bellowing through the high mountains in the low register, a very rhythmic articulation characteristic and a sing-song/lyrical quality that mimics the voice,” he said.

Because his school required full instrumentation before participating in adjudicated events, Kluesener first learned the clarinet and switched to the bassoon at age 12.

He hasn’t looked back.

At his home studio, Kluesener teaches about seven students who have the same love for the instrument.

What age should one begin? “The best age is one where the student has stature that can allow hands, posture and embouchure to control required elements of playing posture,” he said.

This is roughly 12 to 14 years.

While the instrument may be expensive at the professional level, student models are much more affordable.

One entity in the East Valley acquires and refurbishes bassoons. Local school districts possess instruments in their school and are able to rent, loan or assign to students to learn to play, Kluesener said.

The bassoon’s double-sided reed is also an associated cost.

“My students receive discount pricing and I cultivate adjustments by hand with a specific set of tools,” he said.

Considering all these factors, bassoonists are rare breeds in the Valley.

“I can count on two hands/feet the number of professional-level artists I would invite to play paid gigs across Arizona,” Kluesener said.

The majority live in Maricopa County. Phoenix is not traditionally seen as a Western Classical output center of the US and the distinction falls to the Midwest or the East Coast metropolitan areas with heavier European migration, he said.

Academic bassoon programs are offered widely at Arizona’s major universities as well as Maricopa Community Colleges.

As Kluesener seeks serious student bassoonists, he reflected on why he pursued the instrument.

“I loved being a signature and original contribution to a group,” he said. “It also made for wider range of challenge, however, and that’s not everyone’s best fit.”

“It’s very important that the type of individual be considered when parents and teachers review options to assign bassoon opportunities in their programs,” he added.

However, the attrition rate is high; few students stick with the instrument and most need support from parents and teachers to maintain their commitments.

“It’s a lot to manage for some, for others, they prefer that kind of engagement and they can thrive,” Kluesener said.

While Kluesener’s private bassoon studio is thriving, so are his other pursuits.

He founded the touring reed quintet, Paradise Winds, while in the doctoral program at Arizona State University in 2009. The quartet has appeared numerous times on American Public Media’s Performance Today and local Classical Arizona PBS.

He also curated a concert series for ASU Herberger Institute from 2009 to 2012, among other prominent positions.

Following the creation of two albums, “Live Beneath Stained Glass” by Jackie Myers Band with “Paradise Winds and Journey on a Comet’s Tail,” it’s working on a third, an uplifting collection with the working title, “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”

Also, with and without the group, Kluesener has performed and taught in Portugal, Germany, Spain and Tokyo, as well as toured universities and schools nationally.

But music is not his only occupation: Kluesener works in client strategy and consult with a supply chain emphasis for a global real estate firm.

He’s fond of cooking, too, and believes he would have made an equally accomplished chef, given his wife Carissa’s and friends’ opinions.

Between working full time, nurturing students, teaching music history and literature at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, developing the reed quintet and myriad other involvements, Kluesener has his schedule full.

But, getting a full calendar emerging from the pandemic, when his talents and skills were underutilized, has been good.

“It’s well beyond 40 hours a week. Some of it is paid passion work, so that’s a relief,” he said.

To contact Joseph Kluesener, email him at jkluesener@gmail.com.

For details about Paradise Winds, visit paradisewinds.org.

To listen to the quintet’s music, visit clarinet.org/new-music-weekend-2021.

The group will appear with Chandler Symphony Orchestra in a chamber concert on February 13 at St. Matthews Episcopal Church and May 1 at Chandler Center for the Arts.

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