Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 29, 2013

VSO concert features Mozart works

VALDOSTA — While Valdosta Symphony Orchestra audiences may be surprised this weekend to hear a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart concerto for bassoon, Dr. Shannon Lowe knows the music well.

The VSO’s principal bassoonist has been familiar with it since her middle school years and she may be the only bassoonist to perform the work at more than 30,000 feet in the air.

“Only known bassoonist to have performed the exposition of the Mozart Concerto for captain, crew, and passengers at over 30,000 feet on a Southwest Airlines flight,” Lowe says. “I was on my way back from a doctoral studies audition at SUNY Stony Brook and had the Mozart ready to go for performance — it was one of my audition pieces! The flight attendants saw me carrying an oddly shaped instrument case on my back and got me talking about being a bassoonist. They had never heard a bassoon before, so they insisted that I play for everybody to expose them to the instrument.”

This weekend, she will be on a more familiar stage as Lowe is the featured soloist for the VSO’s “An Evening with Amadeus,” which features all Mozart music: Bassoon Concerto in B-flat Major, Overture to “Lucio Silla,” and Symphony No. 38 in D Major better known as the “Prague” Symphony.

As for the Mozart bassoon concerto, it may be a surprise to audiences, but not to musicians.

“Most musicians know that this is a big bassoon audition piece, since we bassoonists are always practicing it, so they are not surprised,” says Lowe.

“The nice thing about the Mozart, though, is it is already part of my repertoire,” Lowe says. “It’s an old dear friend, as I have known it since my middle school years.”

Lowe says the audience should expect a delightful bit of youthful Mozart.

“It’s very accessible to audiences and features the bassoon in a very flattering light,” she says. “There are instances in the concerto where Mozart paints the bassoon as a comical, jolly character, but those moments are balanced with other sections in the music that feature the bassoon singing long, lyrical phrases; much like an opera singer. Our concerto is not as sublime and well developed as the clarinet concerto, written at the end of Mozart’s life, but it is still lovely, nonetheless.”

Even with her familiarity with the concerto, it still offers challenges.

“This piece is a continuous work in progress for bassoonists,” Lowe says. “We are always working to get the opening phrase of the first movement ‘just right’ so that we can sell it to audition committees or prospective college teachers. I have worked a countless amount of times with my bassoon mentors on getting the length of the opening two notes exactly right. I have also put in many, many hours in the practice room working to get the opening phrase just right.”

This commitment has become her career. She is an assistant professor of bassoon at Valdosta State University, where she has taught for five years. In addition to principal bassoonist for the Valdosta Symphony, she performs in the same capacity for the Albany Symphony Orchestra.   

Her resume includes receiving her doctor of musical arts degree in bassoon performance at SUNY Stony Brook. “While at Stony Brook, she was in the bassoon studio of the renowned performer and pedagogue Dr. Frank Morelli.  She received both the bachelor’s in music education with a performance certificate and master’s of music in bassoon performance from the University of Florida, under Dr. Arnold Irchai, former principal bassoonist of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.”

Regionally, Lowe has performed with orchestras such as the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, Macon Symphony, and Central Florida Symphony. “For six seasons, she was principal bassoonist of the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra,” according to her VSO biography. “Dr. Lowe has also served as adjunct bassoon professor for the University of Florida. She has been a featured guest artist at the University of South Carolina, Florida State University, and the University of Florida.”

It wasn’t always about the bassoon for Lowe. Like the majority of Mozart’s concertos, Lowe originally focused on the piano.

“When I was 5, I begged my parents to play the piano. With piano in my background, when it came time to choose an elective class in middle school, it was inevitable that I would choose band,” she says.

She wanted a unique instrument. She did not want to play flute, trumpet, clarinet or saxophone. She wanted English horn, but her school did not have an English horn. She had a choice between the bassoon and the oboe. She chose the bassoon.

“I didn’t even know what a bassoon was, but I thought it sounded cool and chose that as my instrument,” Lowe says. “The band director said, ‘here’s the case, here’s a reed, here’s a book; I don’t know anything about teaching the bassoon, so you are on your own.’ Very encouraging words.”

She took the bassoon home. Working with her parents, she learned how to play it.

“I was able to teach myself the first several months of playing and fell in love with the instrument,” she says. “Luckily, at the end of my sixth-grade year, a bassoon teacher relocated with her family from South Florida to my small town and started offering lessons. My parents are incredibly supportive and realized the importance of private instruction, so they signed me up for lessons right away. From that point, it was obvious that the bassoon was meant for me.”

And this week, with a little help from Mozart, Shannon Lowe’s bassoon is meant for all of Valdosta.


Text Only
Local News
  • 140422-Dan_Keplinger003.jpg The Art of Determination

    Artist Dan Keplinger invests passion into his frenetic pieces. His line work teems with energy. An unexpected trait in the often technically precise medium of printmaking.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • 140422-RibbonCutting.jpg Learning center named in Horne’s honor

    Noting his lengthy legacy in educating the region's young people, Valdosta City Schools officially renamed the Pinevale Learning Center Tuesday in honor of the late Maceo A. Horne Jr.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rose: Dismiss ‘Quitman 11’ case

    Following the second mistrial in the case of a Brooks County woman accused of voter fraud, a local civil rights leader has called for the issue to be dismissed, but prosecutors plan to seek prosecution for a third time.

    April 23, 2014

  • Lawsuit challenging Ga. gay marriage ban filed

    A gay rights group filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday challenging Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

    April 23, 2014

  • Commission denies City’s annexation request

    Lowndes County received an annexation request from the City of Hahira for five parcels of land that spanned approximately 66 acres, for the purpose of future development, and because the applicant sought city water and sewer.

    April 23, 2014

  • Confederate Memorial Day observed this weekend

    The United Daughters of the Confederacy, Valdosta Chapter 471, will observe Confederate Memorial Day, 10 a.m. Saturday, April 26, at Sunset Hill Cemetery.

    April 23, 2014

  • connell book review.jpg Literary Guild hears Fannie Flagg’s latest

    “Reading for fun is great, but learning while reading is super,” Sandra Connell told the Literary Guild at the April meeting.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Performance index tops Lowndes school board meeting

    Lowndes County Board of Education celebrated the results of the College and Career Readiness Performance Index scores during its regular session Monday night.

    April 23, 2014

  • N1401P14008C.TIF Sheriff hosts Prescription Take-Back Day

    The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office will collect unused medications this Saturday as a part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140421 - flooding Shiloh Rd B#1.jpg Road re-opens following flooding

    Lowndes County officials re-opened one road Monday while keeping an eye on the area’s waterways for potential flooding.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Top News

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
     View Results