SannaWihinenThis is the third interview in our series Weaving the Web of Finnish Orchestral Bassoonists.Today our guest is Sanna Wihinen, principal bassoonist of Jyväskylä Sinfonia since 2010.

Did you play an instrument before you started playing bassoon?
I played violin.

Who introduced you to music?
My mother was a cantor during my childhood. She also worked as a piano teacher, teaching very often in our home. Also, my two older siblings played violin. I remember we listened to a lot of music at home, my mother was very fond of Baroque music and my father liked pop tunes.

When did you start to play the bassoon, and where did you get the idea from?
I began playing bassoon at the age of 14. In the beginning I wanted to study singing but my voice was changing at that moment. The bassoon was recommended to me as an “in-between” instrument: “ Play this bassoon for a few years. After that it will be easy to switch to singing.” After a few years I didn’t want to change from it anymore.

Who was your first teacher?
Visa Jämsä

When did you start to think about becoming a professional bassoonist?
I never thought it would be possible to become a professional, I had begun bassoon playing so late and it felt terribly difficult! I just wanted to learn how to play better. I think that playing bassoon as a profession started to seem possible only after I began getting money from my first gigs.

When you started to play, who was your favourite bassoonist?
I don’t know/remember

What is currently your favourite recording of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto?
I’ve never listened to recordings of the Mozart concert with the thought that I could compare them. All of them are different and I like different things in different recordings.

If someone had to describe your sound in one or two words, what would they be?
Focused and bouncy.( I asked from my colleague Gil Shaked-Agababa)

If you were limited to only one piece to play for the rest of your life what would you choose?
Saint-Saens Sonata

Who taught you how to make reeds?
Visa Jämsä, Erkki Suomalainen, Jussi Särkkä, fellow students, and various other random encounters.

What reed shape do you use?
I just have gone back to using Rieger 1a ( slightly modified) after a few experiments.

What is your favourite reed-thread colour?
I don’t like black, white or colors that are too bright. Otherwise there is no difference which colour thread I use. At the moment I am making reeds with blue.

What do you listen (if anything) while you are making reeds?
Often I listen to music from the upcoming concert program. Recently I have been watching James Gordon Carpool karaoke episodes on YouTube.

What is your favourite reed-making tool?
An adorable “doll” nail file, which I bought once when I was very young. I still use it and it always puts me in a good mood.

If you had to describe the world's best bassoon reed, what would it be like?
Well, first it should last forever, of course! It should be easy to play both soft and loud, and it would be in tune in every register.

If you could change anything about the world of classical music, what would it be?
The first thing that come to mind is that I wish there would be cheaper ticket prices and maybe even free concerts. That no one would have to stay home because they lacked the money to come.

What is the best advice you have gotten and where from?
I think it was the year 2000 and the place was the Snellman Hall in Kokkola. I was young and out of tune. Some older gentleman from the French horn section came to me after the orchestra rehearsal to tell me that I could sing in my head at the same time I was playing. That unknown gentleman French horn player’s advice made everything after that so much easier. At this moment I would like to take this chance to say “thank you” 20 years later!

If you weren't playing bassoon, what do you think you might be doing instead?
I would probably be a teacher who sings in a choir as a hobby. Or maybe a viola player!

What is the hardest part of your job in the orchestra?
The most difficult moments I have experienced are those as a member of an audition jury.

Can you describe something an orchestra colleague should never say to a bassoonist?
I might be a bit disturbed if someone commented just before the concert “ Are you really going to play on that reed?” ;)

What is your favourite orchestral excerpt?
Shostakovitch 9

What is your favourite memory from a concert that you played in?
Every time when I get to play in a section that works towards a common goal in a friendly manner.

What is the nicest thing another bassoonist has ever done to you?
There are so many instances. My belongings and myself have been transported all over Finland, I have gotten advice and been supported so many times. Bassoonists are a nice bunch! But I’ll bring forward now a moment I had when I was studying and I had troubles using my airstream. Mikko-Pekka Svala gave me some private lessons in exchange for some moose meat. That had the biggest impact on what kind of player I am today.

Every bassoonist seems to have a passionate hobby, what is yours?
At this point in my life I kind really can’t dedicate myself to hobbies ( we have 2 children that are pre-school aged) but I really like running, yoga and reading. Also I sing a lot, but only when no one else can hear me.

oulu jyvaskyla