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.
Elliott is a versatile performer who is active in classical, new music, improvised and rock/pop settings. She is a founding member of the genre-bending new music group, Clogs, with whom she has recorded five acclaimed albums and appeared throughout the United States, Europe and Australia, sharing the stage with such renowned musicians as Bang on a Can, Bell Orchestre, The Books, The National, Terry Riley, Sufjan Stevens and Shara Nova/My Brightest Diamond.
She is also a founding member of Dark in the Song, Rushes Ensemble, Tuple bassoon duo, and Heliand Consort, a Vermont based classical group. She is principal bassoonist of the Burlington Chamber Orchestra and a substitute bassoonist with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Elliott was previously principal bassoonist and bassoon soloist with the Collegium Musicum in Juelich, Germany.
A proponent of new music, Elliott has premiered works by Amy Beth Kirsten, Bryce Dessner, Paul Lansky, Ingram Marshall, Padma Newsome, Thomas L. Read, and Beth Wiemann, among others. Her debut CD, “Polka the Elk,” contains world premiere recordings of bassoon music by David Lang, Padma Newsome and Tawnie Olson. The album was selected as WQXR’s Q2 Album of the Week following its release and has been described as “an engaging, eclectic mix of contemporary music” by Cleveland Classical and “a charismatic exploitation of a chamber group’s nimbleness” by PopMatters.
Originally from Lyndon, Vermont, her earliest musical memories include hearing her father practice piano at night as she was falling asleep and later studying piano herself, before picking up the alto saxophone in middle school. “Saxophonists are a dime a dozen” was the refrain of her piano teacher who encouraged her to try the bassoon…and the rest is history. Her musical mentors have included Nancy Hartswick, John Padden, and bassoonists Janet Polk and Frank Morelli. She received bassoon performance degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and the Yale School of Music.
As a performer, teacher and collaborative musician, I enjoy working with bassoonists, composers and student musicians at all levels, and across different genres. My approach to teaching encompasses the following elements:
- To listen with open ears across genres
- To cultivate trust and openness between mentor and student in order to best promote learning
- To recognize strengths and areas to develop within each student’s playing
- To approach challenges with compassion and to respect individual learning styles
- To offer appropriate technical paths and guidance to a more musical outcome
- To encourage musicianship through collaboration and performance – with and for others