“…it wasn’t just funny, it was inspired.” – NPR
The Breaking Winds Bassoon Quartet is an artist-run creative project by bassoonists Brittany Harrington-Smith, Yuki Katayama, Kara LaMoure, and Lauren Yu Ziemba. Their repertoire disregards genre, with favorites from the worlds of classical, pop, jazz, soundtrack, and folk music adapted for the ensemble by its members. Known for their stage antics, the BWBQ use choreography, accessory instruments, props, and skits to add theatrical elements to their performances. The ensemble’s mission is threefold: to navigate the intersection of classical music, pop culture, and comedy, to expand the scope of bassoon performance, and to create meaningful bonds with audiences. Now in their 7th season, the Breaking Winds maintain a dynamic schedule of performances at community venues, festivals, and schools throughout the world.
The highlight of the Breaking Winds’ 2015-2016 season was a tour to China, Hong Kong, and Japan, where they shared the stage with a bassoon ensemble in Hong Kong, staged a concert in a Shanghai gallery space, and collaborated with Chinese beatboxers. Recent domestic tours have taken them to New York, Pennsylvania, and Missouri to concertize. In June 2016, they joined the artist roster of the Fox Products Corporation, the premier manufacturer of bassoons in the United States.
In 2013, the Breaking Winds premiered their commissioned concerto, Scott A. Switzer’s Breaking Out for quartet and wind ensemble, with the Yale Concert Band. They have since performed as soloists with the West Point Band, Eastman Wind Ensemble, and Northshore Concert Band. In August 2014, Breaking Out was a featured concerto at the International Double Reed Society Conference in New York City.
Advocates of creative music education, the Breaking Winds have presented master classes at Southern Methodist University, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Sichuan Conservatory. They have been guest artist-teachers with the Chenery Double Reed Ensemble and the University of Missouri Bassoon Ensemble, and they have served as clinicians at the music education conferences of Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Missouri, and Oregon.
The members of the quartet met as undergraduate students in the studio of John Hunt at the Eastman School of Music. They have since gone on to receive advanced degrees in bassoon performance from Yale University, Northwestern University, and Southern Methodist University. Each maintains an active freelance career in multiple fields, based in Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York City.
The Breaking Winds’ quirky affability lends them a global following on social media. To date their Youtube channel has garnered over a million views and has received buzz from NPR and MTV. Online support has led to some of the quartet’s most memorable gigs, including the filming of a reality show at Brooklyn “nerd bar” The Way Station and the Nathan’s Famous 2016 Hot Dog Eating Contest.
MEET THE MEMBERS
RAISED IN: D-Town Texas, land of BBQ, big hair, and bassoonists. (Kara’s from D-Town too!)
PROFESSIONAL: DJ and indoor cycling instructor at Flywheel Sports, rowing captain and instructor Crowbar Cardio, chair jumper and bassoon player.
ENJOYS: Running up Mt. Fuji, vertical wine tastings, cooking for the BWBQ and company, chatting with people, drinking coffee, and jamming out to EDM.
SECRET SKILLS: Moscow Mule maker, multitasker extraordinaire, straight talking Texan, homemade cheese creator, and Seinfeld specialist.
BUCKET LIST ITEMS: Learn Italian, perform in Bangkok (anyone have a connection?!), get pilot’s license, become a sommelier, beekeep.
I WAS: Born and raised in Southern California and began my musical training very early in life, kicking and screaming at my mom who enforced practicing piano everyday.
EXPERIENCED IN: WooCommerce, Adobe Suite, working remotely, solving people’s problems. Also, percussive hand clappers and dramatic cymbal rolls.
ENJOYS: Netflix, WordPress, design blogs, swimming, traveling, a home-cooked Japanese meal.
COLLECTOR OF: Succulents, convention swag, magnets from cities The BWBQ have performed in.
SOMEDAY I WANT THE QUARTET TO: tour in every continent (sure, we can do Antarctica!), win a Grammy, be in a movie or provide music for a movie, commission a concerto with orchestra by John Williams, play at the White House, and perform while being suspended above the stage.
PREVIOUS ADDRESSES: Dallas, Cambridge MA, Rochester NY, Chicago, Wellington NZ, Columbia MO
LOVER OF: words, popcorn, pop culture, eccentricity, orchestral music, international travel
HIDDEN TALENTS: spinning flags, crossword puzzles, speaking Chinese, taking artistic photographs at airport terminals, dancing like nobody’s watching
FAVORITE PODCASTS: Reply All, FiveThirtyEight Politics, Freakonomics Radio, Radiolab, Invisibilia, StartUp
ALTERNATE CAREER PLANS: journalist, elevator music composer, translator, CIA agent
Lauren Yu Ziemba
FROM: Buffalo, NY. Also known as: The Best Place on Earth, Home of the Chicken Wings, Canada
ENJOYS: teaching math, taking Brittany’s workout classes, arranging music, taxes (NOT), planning events
PASSPORT STAMPS: China, Japan, Hong Kong, Dominican Republic, Chile, Canada, Jamaica, Mexico, England, Peru, St. Lucia
FORMER: ice skater, softball player, band president
ADDICTED TO: cheese, meat, archaeology, and Game of Thrones
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
There’s no denying that we play a funny-sounding instrument. In 1798’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s main character “beats his breast” when he hears a bassoon. Frank Zappa famously celebrated the instrument’s “medieval aroma”. And among classical musicians, the most popular nickname for the bassoon is “the farting bedpost”.
Make no beans about it: our ensemble’s name is a nod to the flatulent reputation of our fine instrument. Nothing subtle here, folks. It is eccentric, silly, and decidedly middlebrow—just like the history of the bassoon!
We believe in fun.
We believe in education for all and creativity in all education.
We believe the artistic experience improves when we celebrate all kinds of music as important.
We believe that the friendships we’ve made across geographical, political, and cultural boundaries demonstrate the power of music as an instrument of peace.
We believe that women hold the key to the future. Girls don’t have to bear the burden of the world on their shoulders– they can cut loose from time to time, too!