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L. Christopher Palmer, Bassoonist

Chris’s career was very much focussed on the bassoon before writing started to take over.   Nonetheless he continues to play 2nd bassoon in Symphony Nova Scotia, a position he has held since 1985.  He has often played principal bassoon with SNS, and has occasionally performed as a soloist with them.  He also plays contrabassoon.

As a youth in London he studied with Robin Thompson and Stefan de Haan, and with Kerrison Camden at the Royal College of Music.  He also received instruction with William Waterhouse and Martin Gatt. He played in competitions in London, Prague, Munich and Canada, and has played solo recitals as far away as Nairobi, Kenya and Sydney, Australia.  After moving to Canada he studied with Sid Rosenberg and Christopher Millard at the Banff Centre, and with Gerald Corey at the University of Ottawa.  He is grateful to have absorbed all that is best in the European and North American schools of bassoon playing.

Before moving to Halifax he played engagements with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in the U.K., and with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Canadian National Ballet orchestras.

He teaches bassoon at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, and he often coaches winds with the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra and at school workshops.

Never satisfied with the limited number of solo works for bassoon in the repertoire, he has been making some contributions of his own.  Fantasia Brillante on Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” is a virtuoso operatic fantasy in 19th century style – something he believes should have been written 140 years ago. It is published by Trevco Music in the U.S.. His interest in Balkan folk-music prompted some transcriptions and arrangements, most notably “Maramures Suite” (Romanian) and “Dance from Varna” (Bulgarian).  His settings of Ein Feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress is Our God), Dives and Lazarus, and Wexford Carol were written for use in worship services, although they are very suitable for concert performance too. 


His most recent project is an arrangement for bassoon and piano of Arnold Bax's Threnody and Scherzo, originally for bassoon, string sextet and harp.  He hopes to make this important but neglected bassoon piece accessible for study and  recitals, which will hopefully lead to more performances of the original work.  It is being prepared for publication by June Emerson Edition in the U.K..  


Photo by Jean Palmer 2019

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