Peter Kolkay, bassoon

Called a “star ascendant” by San Francisco Classical Voice and “stunningly virtuosic” by The New York Times, Peter Kolkay has blazed a trail as the first solo bassoonist to earn First Prize at the Concert Artists Guild International Competition (2002) and the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant (2004), as well as the Carlos Surinach Prize (2006) from BMI in recognition of “outstanding service to American music.” Also the first bassoonist to be selected for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two (2006-09), his vibrant career encompasses solo and collaborative performances, premiering new works, engaging with the standard repertoire and frequent recording projects.

Highlights of the 2012-13 season include his recital debut at Wolf Trap on its Discovery Series as well as a recital at the Falany Performing Arts Center of Reinhardt University near Atlanta. With orchestra he is featured concerto soloist with the Dupage Symphony Orchestra (IL) in John Williams’ Five Sacred Trees.

Recent featured recitals include New York concerts at Merkin Concert Hall and BargeMusic (Brooklyn); the Asociación Nacional de Conciertos of Panama; and Lawrence University, Mr. Kolkay’s alma mater, featuring the premiere of Judah Adashi’s The Dark Hours (co-commissioned by CAG and the BMI Foundation). Recent concerto engagements include the South Carolina Philharmonic, Waukesha Symphony and Greater Grand Forks Symphony; as well as debut performances at the Spoleto USA Festivals (the latter including chamber music and Vivaldi’s A minor bassoon concerto).

Now a full-fledged Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Mr. Kolkay performs numerous times seasonally at Alice Tully Hall and on tour, and he also enjoys regular engagements at the Bravo! Vail Valley, Music from Angel Fire, Music Mountain and Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festivals. Other festival appearances include the Savannah Music Festival, La Musica Festival of Sarasota, as well as the Cooperstown and Newport Chamber Music Festivals and Market Square Concerts Summer Music. In addition, he is a member of both the IRIS Orchestra and the South Carolina Philharmonic.

Mr. Kolkay’s solo debut CD, entitled BassoonMusic and released in August 2011 (CAG Records), spotlights works by 21st century American composers, most of which were written specifically for him. In addition, his noteworthy recordings of Elliott Carter’s unaccompanied works Au Quai and Retracing were released by Bridge Records as part of a series of critically acclaimed CDs of the prolific composer’s chamber music. His performances have been broadcast on Performance Today and on New York’s WQXR-FM.

A passionate advocate for new music, Mr. Kolkay has premiered works by Elliott Carter, Charles Wuorinen, Katherine Hoover, Russell Platt and John Fitz Rogers. His world premiere performance with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra of Full Faith and Credit (a concerto for two bassoons and strings) by American composer Harold Meltzer (2004-05 Rome Prize) led San Francisco Classical Voice to comment: “It wasn’t merely technical control, but expressive depth that impressed.” This work was commissioned by CAG and supported by a joint partnership between the Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music, the Westchester Philharmonic and the SFCO. The New York premiere with the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin was presented by the Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music, followed by performances with the Westchester Philharmonic, and he has since performed the piece with members of the Utah Symphony in a special performance for the annual conference of the International Double Reed Society.

Peter Kolkay is Associate Professor of Bassoon at the Blair School of Music at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University. Prior faculty positions include Assistant Professor of Bassoon at University of South Carolina and Visiting Assistant Professor of Bassoon at West Virginia University. He holds a doctorate from Yale University as a student of Frank Morelli and a master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with John Hunt and Jean Barr. A native of Naperville, Illinois, Mr. Kolkay holds a Bachelor’s degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI.