Martin Kuuskmann

April 05, 2011 

Estonian born bassoon virtuoso, Martin Kuuskmann is a commanding force bent on redefining the bassoon as a top caliber solo instrument. His charismatic and entertaining performances throughout the world have earned him repute as one of the leading instrumentalists around. The New York Times praised Kuuskmann’s playing as “dynamic…amazing…gripping…” and in 2007 he received a Grammy Nomination for his recording of David Chesky’s bassoon concerto.

Martin Kuuskmann’s 10/11 season includes concerts with Neeme Järvi and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra performing the Bassoon Concerto by Eino Tamberg, solo recitals in festivals and concert halls worldwide including Gaia Festival (Switzerland), Victoria Summer Music Festival (Canada), radio broadcast recitals in Estonia and Chicago. Kuuskmann’s well known versatility is displayed in his solo shows which vary from traditional recitals with piano accompaniment to “No-Limits” complete solo shows with added electronics and amplification. Kuuskmann’s current season concert repertoire spans from J.S. Bach to Schumann, Berio, Pärt, Jobim to contemporary composers influenced by rock and electronica. 2010 season premieres include Elegies for solo bassoon and chamber choir by Tõnu Kõrvits with the Bellingham Chamber Chorale in Washington, J.S. Bach Double Concerto BWV 1060 for oboe and violin, arranged for bassoon and viola, with the Grazioso Chamber Orchestra at the Gaia Chamber Music Festival.

Kuuskmann has appeared as soloist in the New York Philharmonic series performing Luciano Berio’s Sequenza XII for bassoon solo, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, the Macao Orchestra, Nordic Symphony Orchestra, Grazioso Chamber Orchestra of the Hungarian National Philharmonic, Riga Sinfonietta, Absolute Ensemble, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of the Norrlandsoperan in Sweden, among many others, and in venues like Carnegie Hall, Lincoln and Kennedy Centers.

Kuuskmann’s ambitions to explore contemporary music have led to the premieres of eight new bassoon concerti to date written exclusively for him by leading composers of our time such as Erkki-Sven Tüür, Eino Tamberg, Tõnu Kõrvits , Gregor Huebner, Christopher Theofanidis, Charles Coleman, Gene Pritsker and most recently David Chesky. Kuuskmann is currently working on new bassoon concerto with Swiss composer Daniel Schnyder (for 2010/2011 season), a solo work for bassoon and chamber orchestras by an Argentinian composer, Jorge Bosso, and a concert-length multimedia project with a Brazilian composer, Miguel Kertsman.

His collaboration with the jazz icon, John Patitucci, led to the creation of Caprice No. 1 for bassoon and strings by Patitucci which he has performed in several venues across the world. His work with composers Daniel Schnyder, Randall Woolf, Gene Pritsker, Matt Herskowitz, Robert Martin has produced an array of works from acoustic to amplified and electronically enhanced compositions. Kuuskmann’s rendition of Daniel Schnyder’s Bassoon Sonata (also for clarinet, oboe and soprano saxophone) was recently published by the Edition Kunzelmann.

A highly sought-after chamber musician, Kuuskmann’s chamber music partners have included Miguel Kertsman, Gavriel Lipkind, Kirill Gerstein, Robert Kulek, Kristjan Randalu, Maarika Järvi, Goran Söllscher, Patrick Gallois, Paquito D’Rivera, Jan Bjoranger, Meta4 and Sirius String Quartets, among many other distinguished artists. Kuuskmann has been a guest at numerous international music festivals including Bremen, Hamburg, Kuhmo, Oulunsalo, Nargen, Menuhin Festival Gstaad, Umeå, Kristiansand, Banff and Hong Kong World Music Days.

Kuuskmann’s solo recordings have been released on Chesky Records, Enja, CCn’C, Erdenklang and ERP record labels. Martin Kuuskmann’s new, multi-style solo album, “Nonstop”, with pianist Kristjan Randalu was released in March 2010 on ERP label, and includes works by J.S. Bach, Berio, Pärt, Schnyder, Kõrvits, Jobim. His world music album on Erdenklang Records, The Path of Mantra, combines solo bassoon with the music and chanting of the Tibetan monks. Kuuskmann’s solo performances have been broadcast on BBC, CBC, NPR (WNYC, WFMT, etc), Hong Kong Radio as well as on numerous European radio stations.

Kuuskmann is a founding member and solo bassoonist of the New York based, Grammy nominated Absolute Ensemble, whom he has been a frequent soloist in Michael Daugherty’s virtuosic and madcap concerto, Dead Elvis, a work Kuuskmann has performed nearly 50 times around the world receiving wide critical acclaim. Kuuskmann has appeared as a guest solo principal bassoonist with the Seoul Philharmonic at the invitation of Myung-Whun Chung. He was the solo principal bassoonist of the Nordic Symphony Orchestra from 1998-2001. While living and freelancing in New York City he appeared regularly as principal bassoon with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the St. Luke’s, “Miss Saigon” on Broadway, to name just a few.

Born in Tallinn, Estonia, Martin Kuuskmann graduated from Tallinn Music High School and received degrees at Manhattan School of Music and Yale University School of Music. His mentors include Stephen Maxym, Frank Morelli, Rufus Olivier, Vernon Read and Ilmar Aasmets. As a highly in demand teacher, Kuuskmann is a frequent guest with lectures and master classes in major conservatories and universities around the world. Kuuskmann conducts master classes and is the woodwind coach with the Baltic Youth Philharmonic at the Usedom Music Festival in Germany at the invitation of Kristjan Järvi. He is a former member of the New York Lyric Chamber Music Society, where he premiered numerous solo chamber works and conducted educational projects. Kuuskmann is a faculty at the Manhattan School of Music Contemporary Performance Program in New York City and is the director of the Fusion Program at the Blaine Jazz Festival for Teens in Washington State. Martin Kuuskmann makes his home in the Seattle area with his wife and their three children.

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