rachael elliott, bassoonist

Hailed as "one of the sharpest executors of new-music currently on the scene" (WQXR) and an "intrepid bassoonist" (Time Out New York), Rachael Elliott explores compelling new directions as a bassoon soloist and chamber artist.

A versatile performer who is active in classical, new music, improvised and rock/pop settings, Ms. Elliott is best known as a founding member of the genre-bending new music group, Clogs. During the past decade, she has recorded five acclaimed albums with Clogs and appeared throughout the United States, Europe and Australia, sharing the stage with such renowned musicians and ensembles as Laurie Anderson, Bang on a Can, Bell Orchestre, The Books, The National, Max Richter, Terry Riley, Sufjan Stevens and Shara Worden. Clogs' most recent album, The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton, was cited by NPR Music as "one of the most evocative and appealing records of the year, in any genre."

Ms. Elliott's debut solo album, Polka the Elk, was released in September 2011 by Music Starts From Silence. The CD contains world premiere recordings of music by Padma Newsome, Tawnie Olson and David Lang, including two commissioned pieces written for her. Critics have praised her "beautiful focused tone in all ranges of the bassoon" (Cleveland Classical) and described Mr. Newsome's music as "heartbreaking and trancelike" (WQXR) and "a charismatic exploitation of a chamber group's nimbleness" (PopMatters). Ms. Elliott may also be heard on recordings by Clogs, The National, My Brightest Diamond, and Thomas L. Read, and in films including Turn the River, Colony, and Vidal Sassoon: The Movie.

Current season highlights include Polka the Elk concerts in Vermont, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and at Lincoln Center in New York City; a tour of Australia featuring music from Polka the Elk; a residency in Mexico with Dark in the Song; and the premiere of a new chamber opera by Padma Newsome, with Clogs.

Ms. Elliott's recent solo appearances with orchestra include the world premiere of Don Jamison's Through the Clouds for clarinet, bassoon and string orchestra, with the Burlington Chamber Orchestra. Her performance "proved quite inspired, full of easy virtuosity and flair," according to the Times Argus of Vermont. Additional solo appearances include Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra with the University of Vermont Symphony Orchestra and Francisco Mignone's Concertino for Bassoon and Orchestra with the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra.

A sought-after interpreter and proponent of music of our time, she has helped to commission and premiere numerous works by Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner, as well as music by Thomas L. Read, Beth Wiemann, Alex Kotch, Amy Beth Kirsten, Paul Lansky, and Ingram Marshall, and many others. Her recent premieres of music by Mr. Newsome and Mr. Dessner for Clogs and chorus took place at Merkin's Ecstatic Music Festival and the Barbican Centre's Steve Reich celebration.

Ms. Elliott has received funding from the American Composers Forum, Chamber Music America, Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Durham Arts Council, Vermont Arts Council and many generous individual donors in support of her commissioning, performance and outreach activities.

Rachael Elliott grew up in Lyndon, Vermont, where her early musical mentors included Nancy Hartswick and John Padden. She began her bassoon studies in high school with Janet Polk. She earned performance degrees from Manhattan School of Music (B.Mus.) and Yale School of Music (M.Mus.) as a student of Frank Morelli.


What is that thing? It's not a saxophone...is it an oboe?

[Photo by Sarephina Photography]