A love letter, a dreamscape, the lace of a spider’s silk. The cavern of our imaginations and our dreams has space for everything, and music is the key to unlocking the other side of our consciousness as we bridge the gaps of understanding between us—and within ourselves. Bassoonist Rachael Elliot considers the distance between the way things are and the way we wish they could be, suggesting that the creativity and openness that allow artistry to thrive can inspire our progress towards a better, more just future.
A versatile performer who is active in classical, new music, improvised, and rock/pop settings, Rachael Elliott is best know as a founding member of the genre-bending new music group Clogs.
Since forming in 1999, Clogs has recorded five acclaimed albums 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.”
Rachael Elliott’s solo appearances with orchestra include Weber’s Concerto in F Major with the Collegium Musicum Jülich (Germany), Mozart’s Concerto in Bb Major with the Duke Symphony, the US premiere of Jukka-Pekka Lehto’s Rhapsody for Bassoon and Wind Ensemble with the Duke Wind Symphony, and 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.
Her solo album, Polka the Elk, (Music Starts From Silence) features 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 and Colony.
A sought-after interpreter and proponent of music of our time, she has commissioned and premiered 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, Ingram Marshall and others. Her recent premieres of music by Newsome and Dessner for Clogs and chorus took place at Merkin’s Ecstatic Music Festival and the Barbican Centre’s Steve Reich celebration.
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 and earned performance degrees from Manhattan School of Music (B.Mus.) and Yale School of Music (M.Mus.) as a student with Frank Morelli.
Link to the Bassoon Project
Dreams and Illusions Program