“…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 Poole, 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.
The Breaking Winds have toured internationally, performing at the International Double Reed Conventions in Tokyo, Japan and Granada, Spain. They have extensively toured in Asia – traveling 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. Additionally, they have concertized across the United States from coast to coast. In 2016, they joined the artist roster of the Fox Products Corporation, the premier manufacturer of bassoons in the United States, and in 2018 joined the artist roster for Légère Reeds, maker of synthetic reeds.
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 University of Arizona, 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 New York, Seattle, Houston, and Washington D.C..
The Breaking Winds’ quirky affability lends them a global following on social media. To date their Youtube channel has garnered nearly 3 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
LIVING IN: Seattle – land of Starbucks, 7-way stops (why?!), salmon ladders, and sea-planes.
PROFESSIONAL: Good vibes spreader, fitness & creative captain, semi-pro sommelier, DJ, and bassoonist.
ENJOYS: Biking & vertical wine tastings (or, as I like to call it, “crush & lush”), cooking/honing chef-ing skills, connecting through movement & good vibes, ALL types of music (from Bach to Brubeck to Blasterjaxx) and sun (call me a houseplant!).
SECRET SKILLS: Spotting Eagles, personal barista, bucket list buddy (got an item you need a friend for? I’m your gal!), aspiring inflexible yogi
BUCKET LIST ITEMS: Ride a hot air balloon, bike around the world, hit up the Galapagos Islands, be part winery owner.
Yuki Katayama Poole
LIVING IN: Queens – not as hip as Brooklyn but we’ve got Spider-Man!
PROFESSIONAL: eCommerce and WordPress maven, tech support specialist, remote work wizard (before it was a thing) and full-time ham on stage.
ENJOYS: embroidery, Rieslings, traveling, a home-cooked Japanese meal.
SECRET SKILLS: List making, DIY projects, Home Edit organizer
BUCKET LIST ITEMS: perform in every continent and become a cheesemonger.
LIVING IN: The center of the known swampverse, Houston, Texas!
PROFESSIONAL: Googler of useless facts, book club host, concert producer, deviser of ways to wear costumes while playing the bassoon.
ENJOYS: Eating cookies for breakfast, listening to podcasts, photo safaris around the neighborhood.
SECRET SKILLS: Crosswords and all things wordplay, drawing, delivering jokes in the driest manner possible.
BUCKET LIST ITEMS: Ride in a hot air balloon, play bassoon in Antarctica, use all those airline miles!
Lauren Yu Ziemba
LIVING IN: DC! Well almost – living just outside of DC in Maryland! That being said, still a huge fan of Buffalo and a wing fanatic – GO BILLS!!
PROFESSIONAL: Puzzle-loving software engineer, Blue Apron preparer and reed longievity-ist.
ENJOYS: Petting cats, traveling, treasure hunts, checking things off lists
SECRET SKILLS: Planning things, Sudoku, easy DIY projects (much more junior than Yuki)
BUCKET LIST ITEMS: Perform with Yuki in every continent and open a dumpling truck called Yu-Yu dumplings.
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!