karitasiljanderThis is the twelfth interview in our series Weaving the Web of Finnish Orchestral Bassoonists. The series introduces some of the orchestral bassoonists from all over Finland. Each guest will get the same set of questions. Guest # 12 is Karita Siljander, Kymi Sinfonietta’s principal bassoonist since 2000.

Did you play an instrument before you started playing bassoon?

I played piano.

Who introduced you to music?

At home we listened to a lot of music, and my older siblings played instruments.

When did you start to play the bassoon, and where did you get the idea from?

I began when I was 16 years old - my piano teacher told me about a demonstration of different instruments, and that’s where they recommended the bassoon for the tall girl 😀 .

Who was your first teacher?

Jukka Rouvali

When did you start to think about becoming a professional bassoonist?

A few years after high school I got the courage to apply to the Sibelius Academy, and little by little it happened.

When you started to play, who was your favourite bassoonist?

Klaus Thunemann’s records were listened to a lot.

What is currently your favourite recording of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto?

Dag Jensen

If someone had to describe your sound in one or two words, what would they be? (you can cheat and ask someone for help with this one!)

Difficult question, someone once described it as soft.

If you were limited to only one piece to play for the rest of your life, (solo piece for bassoon, or bassoon and piano) what would you choose?

It would certainly be Saint-Saens.

Who taught you how to make reeds?

Jukka Rouvali, Pekka Katajamäki and many fellow reed-scrapers in master classes and at the Academy.

What reed shape do you use?

Now I’m using Rieger 1a

What is your favourite reed-thread colour?

I use a lot of colours, maybe turquoise is my favourite.

What do you listen to (if anything) while you are making reeds?

Whatever, whenever, it depends on what I feel like.

What is your greatest extravagance spent on making reeds?

It would probably trying out some Légère reeds.

What is your favourite reed-making tool?

The knife

If you had to describe the world’s best bassoon reed, what would it be like?

Easy to play, well in tune, a beautiful sound, and of course it would last forever.

If you could change anything about the world of classical music, what wouldbe?

An unfortunately large amount of people think of classical music as elitist, I would like to change that point of view.

What is the best advice you have gotten, and where from?

Good advice comes form here and there, I can’t rank anything higher than anything else.

If you weren’t playing bassoon, what do you think you might be doing instead?

During school I intended to go into medicine or biology.

What is the hardest part of your job in the orchestra?

Keeping my mind calm on those days when nothing seems to come easily.

Can you describe something an orchestra colleague should never say to a bassoonist?

I can’t think of anything

What is your favourite orchestral excerpt?

The Beethoven violin concerto has an exquisite conversation between the bassoon and the violin.

What is your favourite memory from a concert that you played in?

A lot of great memories of concerts in which everyone played with a good spirit and were supporting each other.

What is the nicest thing another bassoonist has ever done for you?

Bassoonists are usually really helpful and supportive to each other. Years ago Matti Syrjälä went with me to help me buy a car, we shopped around for hours and he even helped bargain the price down for me!

Every bassoonist seems to have a passionate hobby, what is yours?

Hiking in nature and bird watching during my time free-time.

Thanks Karita!

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