Building the Wall – improvising a garden fence

Today, I loaded up my German axe, Canadian pry bar (pictured later), Swede saw and Japanese pull saw and headed down the road to cut some fence posts. Who says we can’t travel during these pandemic days, at least, in our imaginations?


My neighbours said I could take some trees from their large wooded property, so I cut three 30′ spruce and bucked them into 7′ sections before I had to go home for a snack and a nap.
Though we had snow last week, spring has now come for real and the exotic trilliums are all starting to open in the forest. And everyone knows, the black flies come at the same time as the flowers, so I was working in a dense fog of bug dope and hopeful bugs.


Before the journey into the forest, the day started with an expert delivery of the second load of alpaca poo top soil, paid for in the local currency of cookies.
Neighbour Doug carefully places top soil on the pyramid…
 yesterday, I added some branches to hold things in place until the pile sinks more and the soon-to-be-planted vegetables develop roots
Back to the forest…
I found some 30′ spruce with small butts of about 14″ circumference (4-5″ across).
I used the double-bitted axe to start the cut, then the swede or japanese pull saw to finish.
I think it would be faster to do it all with the axe but sometimes the access point
is a bit awkward for the axe (or axe person).
I feel a mixture of gratitude and remorse every time I take a tree,
so I leave the site as clean as possible,
distribute the branches,
and I say thank you.
I found this one back from the road


it fell easily, clearing the other trees… then I limbed it and bucked it into three 7′ sections.
Next tree was up on a hill, which proved to be a bit windier than ideal
I limb as many branches as I can reach before making the first cut in the direction I want the tree to fall
Tree looks bigger than it was… the wind blew it slightly off course and it got briefly hung up
in a crux of other branches and trees
I needed to use the pry bar to pop it off the stump


I could imagine my father laughing quietly as I huffed and puffed and pulled the tree out.
As I stopped to swat blackflies (futile), I spotted this neon orange fungus
My neighbours told me to fall any that were close to the road since they need to keep
the sides clear, so I did!
Glad that traffic was light today (non existent)


My aim is improving!


A decent load of fence poles to get me started.
I am covered in sap, bug bites and bug dope but otherwise unscarred.
I learned tonight that rubbing alcohol will clean sticky sap off of the axe and saw blades… wonder if that will work on my jeans too?


Unloaded the poles and then thoroughly watered the soil.
The hose leaks, so that is a mist of water, not steam, arising from the Hugel pile.
And the gopher who lives beside my garage decided it was time to build his own Hugel pile.
Tomorrow, peel the logs (well, poles) and my garden wall starts to go up!
Take good care of yourselves and thank you for reading
about my quiet adventures
beyond yet nonetheless including
the world of



Hugelkultur Garden – building on the past

When I decided to sell my one-of-a-kind church/concert hall in 2018 and move up north to the last log house that my father built, many of my friends and colleagues said it was a mistake since I would be far away from the hustle and musical bustle of the Canadian metropolis of Toronto. They were sure it would lead to fewer concerts and opportunities for me. Now that Covid19 has taken charge, that equation has changed.

I’m still practicing, still getting ready to publish my new bassoon tech book, still working on the rest of the renovations and helping relaunch the Council of Canadian Bassoonists, but because I am no longer driving 4000 per month, I am using that time in new ways. And going outside and working on digging and moving logs through pivoting, prying and different types of leverage seemed like just another great idea.

There was a pile of logs in the field behind our house, good timbers that had been left over from the building of the house. They had rotted from being exposed to the elements, and I didn’t know what to do with them. It made me sad to see them so neglected and awry.

Then my accountant suggested I create a Hugelkultur garden.

The principle is to make a tall layer cake of rotting wood, branches and other organic material, cover it all with dirt and build a garden, preferably by digging into the ground and then stacking up to six feet. Anything that is non-toxic (so no cedar, walnut, or painted woods and no seed-bearing silage). Over time, it becomes a nitrogen-rich biomass that doesn’t require much watering because the rotting wood acts as a sponge.
I jumped at the idea because it would allow me to process the orphaned logs in a positive way. I started at the beginning of April, and was delayed by snow and by awaiting delivery of my peavey and pry bar, but I should be able to plant my seedlings by May 24 at the latest.
Here is a picture journal of some of the many steps that it took to get to the point where I think I will be able to plant the seedlings this week.

The logs were piled in a jumble along with boards and firewood behind the house, the remains of parts of the house that were re-designed along with the construction stairs and other artifacts,
including rotted planks
and stair stringers.
Kinda makes my heart clutch to see the fine work of my
old Dad before gently laying these into the trenches alongside the sections of logs.
Even though it was still a bit cold at the beginning of April, I started the first trenches.
I hit hard clay at about 14 inches…. after hammering at it for a while, decided that 14-18″ was deep enough.
Specialized footgear!
Though the running shoes are more comfortable, I had to switch to
rubber bogs so that I could actually walk!


Three logs were buried by April 12, then I had to figure out how
to cut the 18′ log into three… I still didn’t have my peavey (log rolling tool)
So I began chopping with my fine throwing axe, but needed to turn the log…
So I tried hammering in a wedge and using a piece of angle iron to roll it, and it worked a little, but also felt unsafe with the angle iron bowing  a lot, so I stopped.
You can see two thirds of the long log on the far right…
Went into the crown land forest and gathered a couple of bags of dried maple and oak leaves.
I kept chopping…
And finally my peavey arrived! it had been held up by the slower mail during Cootie 19.
I had to assemble the hook and happened to have a 5/8ths wrench handy.
And I was able to roll the log and easily finish chopping on the other side.
Here is the long log in 2 pieces, and now that I had the peavey, I chopped it into three pieces
and rolled all three into the Hugel bed on top of the 4 buried logs
Then I had to get the log that was around the back and roll it to the side
and make a ramp with two old planks on top of the pile of dirt that I had dug out from the trenches
I rolled with one hand, then jammed the pry bar in the dirt to hold the log and put old pieces of firewood under the log at each turn to hold it in position so that I could remove the peavey and take another grip.
Rolled it over the top and into the last trench
Now back to the south side and figuring out how to move this log straight ahead from its position.
My brand new, 18 pound “Cougar” (hahahaha) pry bar is a thing of total joy.
Moving towards the dirt pile, realizing that I will get jammed unless I put a piece of old plywood under it as a skid
Close up of my Dad’s numbering system for identifying all the logs when dissassembling log hoses for a move… these are the lids for canning preserves, held on with a galvanized nail
Using the pry bar to straighten out the log (pivot points are an amazing thing)
Setting the log on the plywood skid, then I just pried and pushed it until it was in position
Had to add planks to get it across the grass
and kept using pieces of old firewood to keep the log in position and headed straight
made it! now to roll into position
Just before rolling into the Hugel bed
And in position, with my beautiful cadmium red pry bar contrasting beautifully with the rotten wood.
Even though the wood is rotten, the heart of these white pine logs is sound and they are heavy!
Now to pry the last log into it’s new spot… flattened on both sides, this will be a useful low table for the garden
The last of the 13 log sections is half buried in the soil of the field, but the red pry bar and a couple of strategically placed planks make movement simple.
Walked it over, wriggling each end with pry bar
Making a skid surface with plywood and plank
and in position
Here are all the tools that really helped me so much… the small shovel with the really long handle, the 4′ antique pry bar that Peter McEwen loaned to me, my brand new 4′ Keystone peavey sent to me by Maurice Gardy and the 5′, 18 lb Cougar pry bar that can move and lever and lift stones, logs and more
Time to clean up the long-standing fire pile… there had been a complete fire ban in the township so I moved all the branches over to the garden
stacked the branches
then went through them all and broke them into straight pieces so the pile will stay stable and not bounce when I add more logs to top
sawed up a piece of deadfall beside the road and loaded into truck

added to pile

went down the forest section of the road and filled truck with rotted deadfall… when I perceive the value of the rotted wood, then it feel like I am finding treasure! the rotted wood is quite light.
My dear neighbour Doug arriving with a bucket load of nicely rotted alpaca manure
The fields have dried up beautifully with the winds so the heavy tractor can safely cross
terrified salamander had ridden over in the tractor bucket … he quickly found a safe hiding spot in the garden pile
little garter snake inspects the garden pile, asks what I’m doing there since he decided it was a good snake castle
told the snake I’m here to stay
dug four fence post holes, trying to plan what kind of summer fence I will install.
The black flies are out now that the snow is finally gone (swat, sweat, spray bug dope)
From the base of the buried logs to the crown of the topsoil will be at least 5′, which is very respectable. It will sink into the ground in the coming months and can support a garden for years to come.
I added another layer of field dirt and some terracing, awaiting the next load of alpaca poop that is coming tomorrow.
To be continued!
And once the bugs are gone in August, I just might play a concert by the garden.

MUSIC, MONEY, SUCCESS & FAILURE – Part Two – who were your teachers and what did they teach you?

MUSIC, MONEY, SUCCESS & FAILURE  – Things I Keep Learning  From My Amazing Yet Weird Career
 Part Two – who were your teachers and what did they teach you?
We cite their accomplishments as if they were somehow our own and we often have a childlike parallelism, something along the lines of  “if my teacher plays in an orchestra, then I can too.”
Whatever the catalyst, their inspiration will be remembered in one incident or sensation. Your teachers are found everywhere, throughout your life.  Not all of them teach us good things.

Our preliminary worldview is determined by our teachers and for this reason alone, we need many teachers.  
A truly good teacher acts with respect towards students and remembers that we are equals. I loathe teachers who feel themselves superior and justify their abuse as a burden of necessity. You can learn from them but it’s always better to seek more those with higher humanity.  I’m serious about that.
Here is a rough list of the people who have taught me things.  I may have taught them things too.  I know that my students have helped and enlightened me.
My first great teacher was my high school band-leader and trumpeter Gary Hartley. Disciplined and compassionate, he worked our rag-tag high school concert band like a professional ensemble.  We are still friends.
At university, the great-even-then bassoonist Christopher Millard, with all the gravitas of his 22 years on earth, sagely told me when I was 16 years old at the University of British Columbia, that he thought I was probably too sensitive to sustain a career in music and that I wasn’t  “ready” to start learning the Bach cello suites. From this, I learned early to not rely entirely on the opinions of others.  Christopher also had the generosity to perform with me when I was his student… by then, I was 17 and he was 23 and I was about to leave for the Curtis Institute of Music.  Christopher also bought me borcht at the Russian deli after some of our lessons… when I tried to pay, he waved me away and told me to treat my future students.  From this, I did learn generosity.
When I was 17, I had a summer with Gerald Corey.  He taught me free of charge in return for babysitting and gave me 5 hour lessons.  From him, I learned of a type of meticulousness that was astoundingly appealing in terms of reed-making and phrasing.    Gerald Corey did not charge me for the summer of lessons, saying that since I had flown from BC to Ottawa, I had earned a discount.    From this, I learned about the pricelessness of professional generosity.  To be fair, musicians can only afford this type of generosity if supported by a very good job (Mr Corey was principal bassoon of the National Arts Centre Orchestra), but it is still something that we can aspire to at our level of possibility.
At the age of 18, I went to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia where I had two brilliant bassoon teachers, Bernard Garfield and Sol Schoenbach, in their 60’s and 70’s respectively.  These two tough, experienced older orchestra guys, supposedly raised in the dark ages of gender parity, believed in me and treated me with genuine dignity though I was just a skinny, scared Canadian forest girl, out of my element in the middle of Philadelphia but thrilled to my core to be there.
Mr Garfield told me that the real learning would start when I landed my first orchestral job.  Not “if”, but “when”.  Mr Garfield also showed me his personal technique exercises and actively encouraged me to invent my own, which I do to this day, actively encouraging my own students to do the same.  This is just a smart thing to do and I’m sure every teacher in history has done it, but it was fun and unforgettable with Mr Garfield.
Dr Schoenbach told me that professional orchestra was like advanced schooling and laughed when I worried aloud about succeeding in music. He told me to concentrate on the auditions, that my career was unavoidable.  When I landed my first job, he reminded me to form chamber groups immediately so that I could continue to grow.
He also said “save money every year so that you can move away from orchestra when you are ready for something more in music” and “when is your next recital” and “don’t get too caught up with boyfriends… first build the music and the rest will follow.”
Both of these teachers defended me when needed (oboe teacher John deLancie sometimes felt I needed extra tempering through adversity)  and pushed me out the door to face the world.  When I started my first job with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and when I felt doubt or anguish, I would call or write and they would counter with practical suggestions… good fingerings for that repeated “g” in Bolero, repertoire suggestions, strong, pragmatic encouragement to stay in the glorious world of music even when it got hard as hell.  From this, I learned that I could continue to trust some of my elders. We are still friends and even though Sol passed on 20 years ago, I still have all his letters and a painting by his artist wife, Bertha Schoenbach.  Here is a link to one of our lessons.
Many of my teachers were not official bassoon teachers and every colleague and stage partner has taught me… Alan Wu (homeless pianist),  Bertha Schoenbach (artist), Ted Baskin, (oboist of Montreal Symphony), Gary Russell (cellist, Montreal Symphony), Guy Few (trumpeter, pianist, pragmatist) Valdy (folk hero, musically expansive), Karel Roessingh (jazz pianist), Roger Norrington (conductor and baroque specialist), Nicholas McGegan, Fraser Jackson (ex-husband), Mathieu Lussier (composer, bassoon, brother from another family), John Steinmetz (bassoonist, composer, thinker).
We absorb the sensibilities and erudition of our teachers yet whoever lights the fire that makes you want to play music, and those who fan the flame thereafter, are the only ones who deserve to be called teachers.
If we perform, if we interact with the greater world, then we become teachers.  What kind of teacher are you?



MUSIC, MONEY, SUCCESS and FAILURE  – Things I Keep Learning  From My Amazing Yet Weird Career

Part One –  how long did it take you to learn that concerto?

After my most recent concerto concert on October 11, 2017, a bright-eyed student asked me how long it took me to learn the challenging and beautiful Apollo X concerto for bassoon, strings and percussion, written for me by Paul Frehner.

Second performance of Apollo X
photo by Bo Huang photography

I was delighted that he had a question, so I blinked and replied, but really, I had answers for so many more questions. Really specific answers to specific (and unasked) questions.  But how to answer this one innocent question… how long to learn a unique concerto?

I wanted to take the microphone, call for silence and announce that multiple lifetimes go into learning any concerto, that life interjects so many unknowns there is not ever a straight, tidy continuum, and that we are never learning only one concerto, except maybe in school.  Even on this concert, we also gave the Canadian premieres of Patricia Morehead’s poly-modal, ornate Come Dance With Me The Dance Of Life, Bernard Garfield’s beloved Soliloquy arranged for strings and Mathieu Lussier’s painfully lovely Song of Love and Sorrow.

Composer Paul Frehner conducts Apollo X with NMJ and Out Of This World Orchestra
photo by Bo Huang photography


Composer Patricia Moreland after Canadian premiere of Come Dance With Me
photo by Bo Huang photography

This month, I had 9 other concerts and 13 rehearsals (two of which I missed due to FOOD POISONING)and I prepared 50+ other pieces of music, the shortest of which was one minute (Flight of the Bumblebee) and the longest of which was about an hour (Das Lied von der Erde).  So not much time for last-minute preparation.

In my world, planning is always key yet plans usually change.  If the composer delivers a concerto the day before I record it (as in Sicilian Proverbs on our Canadian Concerto Project Vol I CD), then I learn it in one day and record it the next… if I get it one week before the premiere, as in the second movement of Silver Angel, but I know in advance that this concerto is going to go to high F# on the top of the treble clef staff, then I practice my scales to the stratosphere and then I learn the concerto in one week when the music is actually in my hand.  If my Dad has multiple strokes two days before I premiere a concerto, as in the case of my first performance of Apollo X in 2016, then I wonder, have I “learned” this well enough not to be shaken? And when I played the Mozart concerto multiple times as a student and young professional, and changed the cadenzas every time, how long did that concerto take me to learn? Even when the concertos are “learned”, sometimes an opportunity arises to play something that you haven’t rehearsed for a couple of years.  And in any event, the goal is to perform… learning is implicit and ongoing as skills and perception increase. So it takes not only time, but a lifetime of experience to learn any concerto or great work of music.

I would love to be surprised by other questions from students and interested audience members, but maybe they are too polite to ask.  I have to hustle to pack up the merch, music, bassoon and  hall after a show, but we can always talk while I work.  Here are just a few examples in no particular order of importance.  Of course I won’t have or give answers to all of them yet I still hope that these questions and more will get answered.  And anyone who loves classical music might want to think about the practical elements that go into making it happen.

How much does it cost to self-present a concerto concert?
How long does it take to commission a new concerto?
How do you pay for a commission a new concerto?
How do you approach a composer to ask for a piece?
Do composers ever approach you?
Do composers ever just write a piece and give it to you?
How do I get the music for this concerto that you just played?  Would it make sense to ask the composer who is also at the concert and who just conducted his own piece? Could you introduce me? Could I get his autograph?
How do you know how much to pay composers and musicians?
How do you raise the money? Do ticket sales cover your costs? How much does it cost you to give out free tickets?
Do you make your own programs and posters?  How much does it cost?
How do you sell your tickets online?
How do you manage credit card payments?
Do you have grants or sponsors or neither?
How much do you get paid when you play concerti with orchestras?  How much does a flute soloist get paid? Or a violin soloist?  Why are they different? Why are there no bassoon soloists on mainstage concerts?
How many concerti exist for bassoon?
How many complete concerti did Vivaldi alone write? How many unfinished concerti did Vivaldi start?
How many concerti have been written for you? (see list below)
Where will you be playing your next concerto?
Have you recorded these concerti? (see list below)
Who is writing your next concerto?
How do you write contracts?
Can (did) you learn any of this in school?
How do you book rehearsals for large groups with of people who are working in different orchestras?
Where do you rehearse?
How many reeds do you make?
How much does it cost to rent space?
How do you find time to study scores when you are traveling so much?
What are your methods for memorization?
What other concerti do you play?
Why do you do this when you could make more money sitting in a symphony or opera orchestra or teaching in a U. S. university? Why are there no bassoon professorships in Canada?
Do performers need to learn anything special about performing? Or do they just walk on stage and play?
Is a hand-picked group different from an established orchestra?
Where did you get your dress/boots/hair/attitude?
How do you look after a family while being a musician?
How do you learn to play in the extreme high range of the bassoon?
Who was the first woman bassoon soloist?  Who was the first black woman bassoon soloist? And the second?
How do you get people to come to concerts?
Who takes care of the logistics of copying music, correcting parts and getting it to the players?
Who takes care of stage management, lighting and recording?
Who books your  CD tours to take this music to the people?
Do you have to pay people to do those things? Or do you do it yourself?
Do you have any support from your university?
Do you have a website? YouTube channel? Soundcloud?
How do you play when you are sick?
Is it true that you can be a great soloist, chamber musician, teacher and orchestral player?  Or can you only be one of these things?
Is this a lonely life?  Does it take more time than a regular job?
Who else is performing bassoon concerti in Canada? In the US? In the world?
Are there other Canadian bassoonists who have done something like this? What are their names?  Which concerti did they commission?  Where can I get parts and scores for these concerti?
How would I learn to do all this?
Do you need interns to help with rehearsals and concerts?

The goal is to ask a million questions and do a million things and to be curious.

So, in answer to the question, how long did it take me to learn Apollo X…somewhere between a year and a lifetime.

Concerti and works for solo bassoon and orchestra written for Nadina Mackie Jackson
First performance dates and venues

1. SONG OF LOVE AND SORROW (2017) by Mathieu Lussier, for solo bassoon and ?strings, premiere October 11, 2017 at Heliconian Hall

2.  squeezed from wood (2016) by Lucas Oickle for solo bassoon and full orchestra
commissioned by Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra
August 27, 2016, St John’s Anglican, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia with Nova Scotia ?Youth Orchestra led by Dinuk Wijeratne
August 28, 2016, deCoste Centre, Pictou, Nova Scotia with Nova Scotia Youth ?Orchestra led by Dinuk Wijeratne
August 28, 2016, Halifax, St Matthews United Church, Nova Scotia with Nova Scotia ?Youth Orchestra led by Dinuk Wijeratne

3. SILVER ANGEL (2015) by Constantine Caravassilis for solo bassoon and string orchestra, commissioned by Ontario Arts Council and Thirteen Strings (Ottawa) June 12, 2015, St Andrews, led by Kevin Mallon
October 24, 2016, Heliconian Hall, Toronto, led by Constantine Caravassilis

4. APOLLO X (2013)by Paul Frehner, for solo bassoon, string orchestra and percussion, commissioned by Ontario Arts Council & Orchestra London
November 21, 2013, Hyatt Hotel Ballroom, fundraiser gala, first movement only, Orchestra London led by Alain Trudel
February 5, 2016, Centre for Social Innovation, world premiere, group of twenty-seven chamber orchestra led by Eric Paetkau;
October 11, 2017 with NMJ and Out of This World, Heliconian Hall, Toronto

5. SICILIAN PROVERBS (2013)by Michael Occhipinti for trumpet, bassoon & string orchestra ?with percussion and electric guitar, commissioned by Nadina Mackie Jackson
April 25, 2014 , Bloor Street United Church– group of twenty-seven chamber orchestra led by Eric Paetkau

6. THIRTEEN SECONDS by Michael Occhipinti – for trumpet, bassoon & string orchestra with percussion and electric guitar – gift of composer April 25, 2014, Bloor Street United ?Church – group of twenty-seven chamber orchestra led by Eric Paetkau

7. NIGHTFALL, Op. 27(2009) by Mathieu Lussier for trumpet, bassoon, harp and wind ensemble, commissioned  by the American Wind Symphony
?November 23, 2009, Maureen Forrester Recital Hall, WLU Wind Ensemble led by ?Michael Purves-Smith

8. FORT COLIGNY (2014)by Mathieu Lussier for trumpet, bassoon & orchestra
February 16, 2014, Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts– Orchestra Toronto led by Kevin Mallon

9. man will only grieve if he believes the sun stands still (from Bassoon Concerto No. 2)(2010) by Glenn Buhr (also exists in a version for corno da caccia & bassoon)
November 9, 2012, Grace Church on the Hil – group of  twenty-seven led by Eric Paetkau

10. CONCERTO by Adam Scime (2010)for amplified bassoon, electronics and chamber ensemble, January 24, 2011, Walter Hall, University of Toronto New Music Ensemble, led by Constantine Caravassilis

11. ODDBIRD CONCERTO(2011) by Mathieu Lussier for bassoon, string orchestra and percussion November 15, 2013, Trinity St-Paul, Toronto, group of twenty-seven chamber orchestra led by Eric Paetkau

12. CARNETS DE VOYAGES (2007)by Alain Trudel, double concerto for trumpet and bassoon with string orchestra and percussion, commissioned by CBC February 8, 2008, Glenn Gould Studio, CBC, Toronto Chamber Orchestra led by Alain Trudel

13. LE DERNIER CHANT D’OPHELIE(2008) by Mathieu Lussier for bassoon & string orchestra
February 2008, Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto Chamber Orchestra, led by Alain Trudel (repeatperformances May 21, 2016,Toronto, May 23, 2016, Drayton, June 4, 5 and 6, 2016 inEugene, Oregon and September 25, 2016, Toronto)

14. SPRING LULLABY(2007) by Mathieu Lussier for bassoon and string orchestra
2010, Ayr, Ontario, Grand River Baroque Festival Orchestra led by Eric Paetkau
(also exists in a version for corno da caccia & bassoon)

15. BASSANGO by Mathieu Lussier for bassoon & string orchestra
February 2, 2014, Brampton, Rose Orchestra led by David Warrak
Amati Saskatoon at Convocation Hall;
August 27, 2014 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in Marsh Auditorium of the University of Southern Mississippi
August 30, 2014 in Harris Hall at the University of Memphis (Bassoonapalooza); University of Toronto, September, 2016
August, 2009, Just Plain Folks music awards, Wildhorse Saloon, Nashville

16. BACCHANALE by Mathieu Lussier for trumpet and bassoon  with string orchestra
June 16, 2007, Ayr, Ontario, Grand River Baroque Festival
2007, Fredonia, New York, State University of New York at Fredonia 2007
2012 Saskatoon, Amati Strings

17. DOUBLE CONCERTO by Mathieu Lussier for trumpet and bassoon with string orchestra
June 16, 2007, 2010 Grand River Baroque Festival
2014, Okanagan Symphony Orchestra led by Rosemary Thomson
April 4, 2014, Kelowna Community Theatre, Kelowna, B.C.
April 5, 2014, Cleland Community Theatre, Penticton, B. C.
April 6, 2016, Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre, Vernon, B. C.

Nadina Mackie Jackson – Complete Discography 2017
solo recordings
SCARLATTI k545, k213,
k501, adapted for solo bassoon.
Independent (2015)

Lussier Oddbird, Le Dernier
Chant d’Ophélie; Occhipinti
Sicilian Proverbs, Thirteen Seconds;
Buhr man will only grieve
if he believes the sun stands
still. msr Classics 1480 (2012;
Juno nomination 2014)

480, 483, 484, 491, 495, 498, 499.
msr Classics 1451 (2011)

ROMANZA Hummel Concerto;
Weber Andante & Rondo;
Lachner Concertino
msr Classics 1232 (2008)

BACCHANALE Hindemith & Lussier
Double Concerti; Bassango &
Spring Lullaby.
msr Classics 1201 (2007)

AFTER HOURS Shostakovitch,
St Saëns, Rimsky-Korsakov,
Paganini, Boismortier,
Piazzolla. Independent (2010)

24 SOLOS (1740), Jean-Daniel
Braun Independent (2010)
Notes From Abroad Bitsch Concertino,
Schreck Sonata; Lussier,
Schurmer. Independent (2004)

EVER AFTER, Prokofiev Sonata
opus 94; Scarlatti Sonatas, Bach;
Lussier Caprices. Independent(2003)

Flute Fantasias. Oddbird
Studios (2000)

chamber music
THREE with Leslie Newman
and Guy Few, Piazolla, Kuhlau,
Couperin. Independent (2015)

CAMERA Music of David
Occhipinti. lmc Media (2012)

Business of Angels
Baroque PIP1110(2011)

Wind Sextets. atma Classique

MUSICA FRANCA: Michel Corrette
Complete Délices de la Solitude;
Le Phénix; Organ Concerto no.1 in
G Major. msr Classics 1171 (2005)

MUSICA FRANCA: Joseph Bodin de
Boismortier msr Classics 1170

CALIBAN DOES CHRSITMAS Caliban Does Christmas. atma
Classique (2005)
Feast. bis Northern Lights (2003)

BASSOONATICS cbc Records (1997)

baroque and classical
Haydn Symphonies 62, 107 &
108, Toronto Chamber Orchestra.
naxos 8572130 (2008)

Pichel Symphonies, Zakin 8, 11, 14
& 16, Toronto Chamber Orchestra.
naxos 8557761 (2005)

Handel Israel In Egypt, Aradia
Ensemble. naxos 8570966-6

Handel Water Music and Music
for the Royal Fireworks, Aradia
Ensemble. naxos (2006)

Handel Music for the Royal Fireworks
and Concerti a due chori,
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra
sony (1997; Juno Award 1998)

orchestre symphonique de
montréal with charles dutoit
thanks to OSM website

Bartók Concerto for Orchestra,
Music for Strings, Percussion
and Celesta. Decca 421-443-2
(recorded 1987; released 1988;
Juno Award 1989)

Berlioz Harold in Italy, Overture
‘Rob Roy’, Overture ‘The Corsair’,
Pinchas Zukerman. Decca 421-193-
2; re-edition #455361 (recorded
1987; released 1988)

Berlioz Roméo et Juliette,
opus 17, Symphonie funèbre
et triomphale, mso Choir. 2-Decca 417-302-2/
(excerpts) 425-001-2 (recorded
1985; released 1986)

Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique,
opus 14. Decca 414-203-2
(recorded 1984; released 1985.
Grand Prix du Président de la
République-France, 1986; Prix de
l’Académie du disque du Japon,

Berlioz Le Carnaval Romain.
Decca 028945248028 (recorded
1984, released 1997)

Bizet L’Arlésienne Suites 1 and
2 (arr Guiraud); Carmen Suites
1 and 2. Decca 417-839-2 (recorded
1986 & 1987; released 1988)

Chopin Piano Concertos 1 and
2. Jorge Bolet. Decca 425-859-2
(recorded 1989; released 1990)

Debussy Images, Nocturnes.
Decca 425-502-2 (recorded 1988;
released 1990; Juno Award 1990)

Debussy La Mer, Jeux, Le Martyr
de St-Sébastien, Prélude à l’aprèsmidi
d’un faune. Decca 430-240-2
(recorded 1989; released 1990;
Grand Prix de l’Académie du
disque du Japon, 1991)

Debussy Pelléas et Mélisande,
Didier Henry, Colette Alliot-Lugaz.
2-Decca 430-502-2 (recorded 1990;
released 1991; Prix Félix adisq,
1991; Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik,
1991; Juno Award
1992; Grammy nomination 1992)

Elgar Enigma Variations, Falstaff.
Decca 430-241-2 (recorded 1989;
released 1991; Prix Félix adisq,
1991; Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik,
1991; Juno Award
1992; Grammy nomination 1992)

Falla The Three Cornered Hat
(complete ballet), El Amor brujo.
Decca 71060/Decca 410-008-2/
Three Cornered Hat selections,
Ovation 417-748-2 (recorded 1981;
released 1983; Prix Georges-Auric
de l’Académie du disque français,
1984; High Fidelity International
Record Critics’ Award, 1984)

Fauré Requiem, Pavane, Pelléas
et Mélisande. Kiri Te Kanawa,
Sherrill Milnes, mso Choir. Decca
421-440-2 (recorded 1987; released

Fête à la Française: Bizet, Dukas,
Satie, et al. Decca 421-527-2
(recorded 1987; released 1989)

Franck Symphony – d’Indy Symphonie
sur un chant montagnard
français, Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
Decca 430-278-2 (recorded 1989;
released 1991)

Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue, Guy
Cowley; An American in Paris,
James Thomson; Cuban Overture;
A Symphonic Portait of Porgy and
Bess. Louis, Lortie. Decca 425-
111-2 (recorded 1988; released
1989; Prix Félix adisq, 1990)

Holst The Planets, Women of
the mso Choir. Decca 417-553-2
(recorded 1986; released 1987;
Juno Award 1987, Grand Prix du
Disque, Canada, 1988; Edison
Award, Amsterdam, 1988; Mumm
Champagne Classical Music
Award, 1988; Grammy Nomination,
1988; Grammy nomination
Vidéo, 1996)

Lalo Symphonie Espagnole;
Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto no.3,
Joshua Bell violin. Decca 425-501-2
(recorded 1988; released 1989)

Mendelssohn A Midsummer
Night’s Dream, opus 61; The
Hebrides; The Fair Melusine;
Ruy Blas. Decca 417-541-2
(recorded 1986; released 1987)

Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibitio;
Night on the Bare Mountain;
Khovanshchina; Rimsky-Korsakov
Russian Easter Festival Overture.
Decca 417-299-2 (recorded 1985;
released 1988; Grammy Nomination
Vidéo, 1996)

Noël Noël. Leontyne Price,
Tudor Singers of Montreal.
Decca 410-198-1 (recorded 1983;
released 1983; Grammy nomination,

Offenbach Gaîté parisienne;
Gounod Faust (ballet). Decca
411-708-2 (recorded; released

Prokofiev Roméo and Juliet
excerpts. Decca 430-279-2
(recorded 1989; released 1991)
Prokofiev Symphony no. 1
‘Classical’; Symphony no. 5.
Decca 421-813-2 (recorded
1988; released 1989)

Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky,
Lieutenant Kije, Jard Van Nes.
Decca 430506 (recorded 1990;
released 1992)

Ravel Boléro; Alborada del
gracioso; Rapsodie espagnole;
La Valse. lon 71059/Decca
410-010-2/4-Jubilee 421-458-2/
10-Decca 430-239-2/(Boléro, La
Valse) Decca 414-406-2 (recorded
1981; released 1982; Prix Félix
adisq, 1983; Disque d’Or, Canada,
1983; Disque de Platine, Canada,

Ravel Ma Mère l’Oye complete
ballet, Pavane pour une infante
défunte; Le Tombeau de Couperin;
Valses nobles et sentimentales.
Decca 410-254-2/4-Jubilee 421-
458-2/(Pavane) Decca 414-406-2
(recorded 1982; released 1983)

Ravel Orchestral Works.
4-Jubilee 421-458-2 (1988)
Ravel Piano Concertos; et al.
Pascal Rogé. Decca 410-230-2
(recorded 1982; released 1984;
Prix concerto français de
l’Académie du disque français,
1984; Prix Edisson, Amsterdam,

Respighi Pines of Rome, Feste
Romane, Fountians of Rome.
Decca 71091/Decca 410-145-2
(recorded, 1982; released 1983)
Rimsky-Korsakov Scherazade
suite; Capriccio espagnol.
Richard Roberts. Decca 410-253-2
(recorded 1983; released 1984)

Saint-Saëns Symphony no.3,
Peter Hurford. Decca 71090/Decca
410-201-2 (recorded 1982; released
1983; Prix de la musique française
de l’Académie du disque français,

Stravinsky The Firebird; Scherzo
fantastique; Feu d’artifice. Decca
414-409-2 (recorded 1984; released

Stravinsky Pétrouchka, Le Chant
du Rossignol, Quatre études, Art
Maiste. Decca 417-619-2 (recorded
1986; released 1987; Laser d’or
de l’Académie du disque français,
1988; Grand Prix du disque,
Canada, 1988)

Suppé Overtures. Decca 414-408-2
(recorded 1984; released 1986;
Prix Félix adisq, 1986)

Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture,
Capriccio italien, The Nutracker
Suite, Marche slave. Decca 71058/
Decca 417-300-2 (recorded 1985;
released 1986; Prix Félix adisq,


Ideas On Practicing

Ideas on practicing
Nadina Mackie Jackson
As a result of preparing two particularly challenging pieces this fall (Silver Angel by Constantine Caravassilis & Sonata Concertante by Nikos Skalkottas), I am in the process of compiling & publishing my first comprehensive book on technique.  And thinking a lot of what it means to practise. 
If you have a musical goal and a powerful feeling of how you want it to resound, you will find the path, or rather, the many branching paths.  Astonishingly, they will occasionally link at a point that is not visible from your present perspective.

The Big Picture is created from an ever-flowing fountain of details.  And sometimes it is a bursting firecracker fanning into the night sky that has to be lit over and over.
How many hours to practice is not the question.
Rather, I suggest a certain number of hours so that you can learn how many hours it takes to develop a continuing awareness of your practice, e.g. building on your work from day to day.  If you practice the same thing every day, it will not longer be the same thing.  It will be better, even if you are not (yet) the perfect embodiment of practice perfection. 
Practice is more than blowing into your bassoon though that is important, too.
It is much more than doing what your teacher says. Though that is important, too.
It is about the discovering the depth of detail required by your mind and body to perform music in the way that you crave.
Practice is done by the brain.  The brain is inextricably linked to the body; there is no hierarchy of superiority, only of function. The brain has the capacity to grow and develop based on challenge (at least according to the book I am reading at the moment, The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge (Viking Press)), analogous to the way that muscles grow and develop.  Challenge your brain every day, and train your body, and thus it is safe to say that you begin to think of practice as something that transcends a finite number of hours in the day.
Through developing routines and patterns, you develop the route to greater freedoms.  Like a map of a country that is constantly developing, detail is added to the basic structure as your perception becomes increasingly refined.  Repeated gesture eventually becomes part of your instinct and you move to the next challenge.
If you aim to practice four hours (or two or six) in a day, you can find those hours at different times and different places.  Then the luxury of having an equipped studio will be exactly that, a luxury. 
If you practice every day, then the odd phenomenon of relatedness kicks in of its own accord, and when you hear an illuminating thought from an non-bassoon source, it will alchemically shift in your spirit to become “something to try” the next time that your bassoon is in your hands.
If you practice every day, none of the other, non-practicing moments are wasted.  With the constant reference of your practice, you can relate other information to this skill.  Distressing rehearsals can be reframed as a means of concentrating on a specific aspect of your technique (e.g. madly practicing double and flutter-tonguing during an out-of-tune fortissimo brass chord in wind ensemble, don’t tell them and I won’t either); time spent on the bus can be an opportunity to imagine a cadenza in shape and spirit.  Imagination is a huge part of practicing.
Stability lies within yourself.  You are the reference for the reeds, the instrument, the sound, and the goals.  Find the centre in yourself to maintain pitch integrity.  The more you require of yourself, the stronger this feeling will become.
And I do think discovery lies in conscious exploration (some people call that research).  The simplest route is via polarities:  e.g. fast scales and slow scales; jubilant scales and dismal scales… you pick the adjectives.
Practice structure. Be systematic and thorough; the wild imagination must be grounded in a secure foundation.  In this way, you develop mental security and a strong embouchure (mind & body unite).
Practice emboldenment alongside refinement.  Through polarities you will find your style.  Your style will emerge anyway, but the conscious understanding of its existence will allow it to blossom as a real voice rather than a set of limitations.
Practice confidence which, simply put, means consciously attempting musical challenges that frighten you.  Add to that trust, faith and courage. Eventually you will develop grace in moving through obstacles.  There will always be obstacles.  And you will not be stopped by them.
I have to practice now.


GENDER & CLASSICAL MUSIC – some interesting questions from a university student

Once or twice every year, I get interviewed by high school or university students and I find that they ask very relevant questions.  I have decided to post the questions and my hasty answers as they cause me to reflect on areas that I have chosen to forget or ignore.

In the past, these are the kind of questions that we (women and musicians generally) would answer in neutral and veiled terms, and while I hope that I’ve honestly avoided that, it becomes second nature as we try to protect ourselves from being seen as troublesome.  It is time for classical musicians to be more candid, if only to make our stories more interesting.  And also to explain some of the weirdness and occasional inability of classical groups to thrive.  Even the effort to share our experiences candidly gives us experience in expressing our uniqueness.

And at my solo concerts, I always encourage audience members and students to ask me questions and these candid questions offer some examples of what might be really interesting to know about based on my long and varied career in classical music.

I have another interview to post, with more general questions about my life, from a high school student, which I will post in the coming days.

Meanwhile, here are some good questions that might give rise to others.

First, my preamble to the interviewer before I get to the questions:

Dear University Bassoon Student-whose-identity-I-wish-to-protect-though-it-might-not-be-strictly-necessary,

Your questions are very good, yet somehow I cannot give you the answers that you are looking for and that, in fact, I would like to give.  When we talk about straight numbers (comparing numbers of men and women) and circumstance, these are elements that were part of the air I breathed during the early days of my orchestral career… it never occurred to me to assess and compare them at the time. It never occurred to me to dig deep and find out exactly how my pay related to the pay of the men around me. It never occurred to me to carefully and appraisingly read the terms of my contract and to understand that sometimes conditions are worth more than dollars. So, my answers reflect my strong, personal attitude of equal opportunity, given to me partly by my outdoor upbringing with amazing parents, but I think the reality was, and still is, stacked against women.  It is part of a deep cultural problem that we are barely beginning to acknowledge.

Thank you very much for making me think again about these things,

March 22, 2016


What time frame were you at Curtis Institute of Music?

September 1978 to May 1981

What would you say the numbers of women and men were at Curtis, in the bassoon studio, in faculty, in the general student body? Generally more men than women, or about equal?

It seemed equal to me, but of course it wasn’t.  In the teaching faculty, there was a female piano teacher for the hotshots and of course the brilliant harp teacher…. and another female smart piano teacher one for the super lame beginner piano students (i.e. me…we all had to take piano if we didn’t come with skills) and she suffered trying to teach kids who wanted to be elsewhere!  Otherwise, all teachers and conductors were men (seemed normal at the time, but of course, we know now that it indicates that few women had a shot in the generation before ours)… in the bassoon studio, there were 3 women and 4 men over the four year period (only one year where the two women were in class at the same time —all of the students got orchestral jobs in orchestras of varying sizes).  The student body at large seemed to have many female string players and woodwind players, no brass except horn; of the administrative staff, the scheduling coordinator and head librarian were women; directors were always men as far as I know.

What was your experience like as a woman at Curtis? Positive, negative? Any specific moments come to mind?

Positive, though I confess that I had a headache for 4 years.  It was a huge jump, going from the forests of BC to the heart of Philadelphia.  My bassoon teachers were the souls of equality even though they were from another time in history… Bernard Garfield did encourage me to go with one of his sons to a baseball game but it was pleasant and only slightly awkward and I never saw him again after that (I don’t care for spectator sports and had little to say to the nerdy boy who went on to become a doctor!).  Sol Schoenbach became a lifelong friend and was a great source of wisdom and egalitarian exchanges.  I invited him to teach with me one summer at Domain Forget and it was wonderful.  One of the most lasting pieces of advice that Sol gave me was to not get caught up in the drama of relationships, instead, to devote myself to my work, and let the other stuff follow.  I still think this was superb advice to give an ambitious young woman and I wish I had completely followed it.  He also completely believed in me, which was powerfully motivating.  I still carry one of his letters in my bassoon case.

Did you experience any negative feedback as a musician and performer because you were a woman?

I felt that I was treated like an equal at Curtis, meaning that we all had our butts whipped all the time, particularly and memorably by the oboe teacher/director John deLancie; the general standard was very high and we all pushed for the best with sometimes elevated levels of tension, but I never marginalized for being a girl.

In the professional world, I am not sure what to say… when I was young, I had to spend a lot of time fielding amorous advances that seem like a great waste of time now when I look back, particularly when I would become so attached a boy that I would decline to take auditions for fear of leaving the town where the boyfriend was located… imagine so stupid!  As I got older, my outspokenness and propensity for solo work made me less popular… these things are also virtues and give me a body of work that is valuable and lasting.  It does seem that women still have to choose career or family and that is the subject for a longer discussion, particularly one that would include a discussion of children and division of household labour in connection with a performing career.

When you were applying for your first orchestral position, how many jobs did you apply to (approximately)? Did you feel at all intimidated to apply for jobs in more male dominated orchestras?

I absolutely didn’t feel any intimidation about male-dominated orchestras… it simply didn’t enter my mind.  I had the usual young-person insecurities about my potential as a player but that didn’t stop me from auditioning… I have always been ambitious and brave despite any fears or anxieties, and completely confident that I could grow into any job.

When I was in my last year of school, I auditioned for co-principal in Mexico (got it but didn’t go); principal somewhere-in-Ohio (went to second round); principal in Jerusalem (went to second round); second in Philadelphia (went to second round); second in Montreal (got it).  I was definitely uncomfortable during the audition for Mexico as the conductor walked around me while I was playing.  Those were the old days!  Overall in my career, I have taken only about 20 orchestral auditions and have advanced in 11 and won 3 (principal of Canadian Opera Company 1990, second in Montreal Symphony 1981 and associate principal in Mexico State Orchestra 1981) and I am the appointed principal of group of 27.

Did you hear back from all of these orchestras you applied to? If not, how many, approximately? If you didn’t hear back from all, did you feel like this was simply because you were a woman?

I went to the auditions, either placed, won or didn’t and left.  It was only later in my career that I sometimes had a hard time to get an audition, which meant that sometimes an application for an audition went unanswered.  There was a period when Canadian musicians had a harder time getting auditions in the States, or when second players (which I was in Montreal) were not invited to audition for principal positions (ridiculous).
Once I advanced in Atlanta, and was told that the personnel manager would call, and he never did… that was in the late ‘80’s so who knows; I cared at the time but I don’t now.

In one of my resources, I read that Judith Leclair was able to audition for the New York Philharmonic because she had been recommended by her male teacher, David Van Hoesen, at Eastman. Did you ever have any type of similar experiences?

You should ask Judy directly.  That was common practice in the last century for both men and women until about the time of Judy’s audition and I remember my old teacher, Sol Schoenbach, being very proud to have also been part of the team of supporters who managed to get her an audition.   In the generations before mine, that was how most people got auditions.  While I never had a similar experience (that I know of!), I must point out that it still exists today; the recent Toronto Symphony associate principal auditions were by invitation only… the fabulous young woman and great bassoonist who won the job must have been recommended by her teachers since she is 23 and this is her first job; you should ask her!

Were blind auditions common when you were auditioning for orchestras?

Yes.  The exceptions were the finals in Philadelphia, Mexico, Jerusalem (first rounds were always screened).

What was the male/female ratio like when you joined Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal?

I dunno, maybe one third women, or  more.  They would have that statistic in the archives.  There were lots of women because all levels of the auditions were screened.

Did you ever feel uncomfortable working in the orchestra because you were a woman?

Nope. Not at all.  Not even when I was wearing full, custom-tailored tails. But I may have been held back from advancing because of it.  This is all stuff that is hidden in plain view… as a hardworking young woman, it didn’t occur to me then, but it would now.  There are patronizing assumptions made about women when they want to advance in the profession (will they stay, will they have kids etc).  Just before I left Montreal, I auditioned repeatedly for the principal position, and amusingly was granted the “acting principal” (or was it associate principal?) chair right at the time I got injured and took disability leave.

I read those early concert halls didn’t have separate dressing rooms for men and women since most orchestras were made of men. Did you ever face an awkward situation because of this?

The women’s dressing room in the Montreal Symphony of my decade was smaller and quite crowded… we laughed about it and many of us came dressed to the hall, choosing to change at home because of lack of space… that was probably fixed in the years since I left! And usually, when touring, if we had any awkward situations with a lack of space, the men would always defer to the women, but I cannot think of an example at the moment.

The male-to-female ratio in orchestras have improved over time. Do you feel like there is still room to grow?

It’s not about numbers but it is very much about opportunity.  Women need opportunities… I was not invited to audition for the recent Toronto Symphony associate principal, and while I LOVE the woman that they hired and completely support her, I would have appreciated the opportunity to audition… this is how we grow!

If a man had a position in an orchestra that a woman later took over (or vice versa), do you think there would be any change in pay or any sort of wage gap? Was there a time when this was normal?

No idea!  This information is rarely shared.  I certainly was the lowest paid member of the bassoon section when I was in the Montreal Symphony AND I was the only wind player who did not have an associate (i.e. fourth player) to spell me off on occasion.  The management had the power to impose conditions on me that I could have fought if I had realized soon enough (always read your contracts!)

Again, I had my head down, was practicing and making reeds and not really thinking about how to get a fair deal since I felt that I had the strength of 10 and could handle anything!

Do you think Canada/US is ahead of Europe in the equality of women and men musicians? What was it like during your time in Montreal? Or earlier?

Don’t really know since I never think about orchestras these days, except as collaborators!  I think that North America is definitely ahead of orchestras like Vienna and other bands that didn’t hire women until recently. There are many good books these days on the subject… one that comes to mind is Women Performing Music by Beth Abelson Macleod … she has some of the player statistics you are looking for!

I’ve answered your questions in a way that will make you think that I believe men and women are treated equally in the symphonic world; but in fact, I don’t think they were when I was young. I have blocked that out of my mind these days, and have moved onto the bigger question of how to keep our music alive and available to audiences. I will keep thinking about your questions and I encourage you to send more questions if you think of other things to ask about!


Photo of NMJ as a young orchestral bassoonist (1986, Montreal)
This was my second pro photo shoot and what a docile gentle creature I appear to be!  dressed in the clothes of a stylist (shudder).
This is a placeholder until I can dig out the photo of Nigel Kennedy, pointing at me with my full set of custom-tailored tails.