Bassoon Merit Award Recipients









Andrea Baker - Sherman Walt Bassoon Merit Award - 2017 ZembaHolding past positions in international professional orchestras with a wealth of chamber music experience, Andrea Baker is currently completing her master's degree at the New England Conservatory under the tutelage of BSO principal bassoonist Richard Svoboda. Previously, she held the position of assistant principal/second bassoon with the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra in Bosnia and Herzegovina. An avid chamber musician, her reed trio, Blue Bamboo, was awarded the high distinction on an NEC Honors Ensemble. She holds a B.M. from Penn State University, and her previous teachers include Daryl Durran and Shirley Curtiss. Andrea plans to begin her doctoral studies this fall at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.

Natalie Zemba - Sherman Walt Bassoon Merit Award - 2015 ZembaNatalie Zemba is completing her graduate studies with the Boston Symphony Orchestra bassoonist Richard Ranti at Boston University. Originally from Lexington, Natalie began playing bassoon at age 10 and studied with Louise Goni. After this she moved to upstate New York where she received her BM studying with John Hunt at the Eastman School of Music, followed by her MM with Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra bassoonist Nancy Goeres at Carnegie Mellon University. She has received scholarships to perform with to several summer music festivals including the Aspen Music Festival, the National Orchestral Institute, and the Hot Springs Music Festival. Outside of her university ensembles Natalie has collaborated with Attack Theater (a dance company based in Pittsburgh) in a fully-staged version of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat, and is an active freelance musician including performances with the Cape Symphony and the Atlantic Symphony, and is looking forward to more freelancing in the Boston area. When not playing the bassoon, Natalie enjoys running, biking, painting, and teaching.

Josh Baker - Sherman Walt Bassoon Merit Award - 2014 Josh Baker, of Boise, Idaho Bakeris currently pursuing a Bachelors degree at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts where he is a student of Richard Svoboda. Josh won New England Conservatory’s Concerto Competition in 2012, playing Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat Major. He has performed with notable ensembles such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra, New World Symphony Orchestra, Radius Ensemble, Discovery Ensemble, Boston Accompanietta, and the Bach Society Orchestra. In past years, Josh participated in many music festivals including the Tanglewood Music Center, Music Academy of the West, and the Sarasota Music Festival. In Fall 2014, Josh will being enrolled in the Master of Music program at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University under Benjamin Kamins.

Sean Maree - Sherman Walt Bassoon Merit Award - 2012 Born in Springfield, MareeVirginia, bassoonist Sean Maree began his musical training at the age of 12. Since then, Sean has performed in a wide array of musical settings. In the fall of 2007, Sean began his collegiate studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, studying with Boston Symphony principal bassoonist Richard Svoboda. Sean has performed with the Boston Philharmonic and the New England Conservatory Philharmonci. As a member of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, he performed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and Teatro de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Sean was a member of the Andra Winds, a New England Conservatory Honors Ensemble, from 2008-2011. The Andra Winds performed in Jordan Hall, Brown Hall and at the Isabelle Steward Gardner Museum, as well as numerous outreach peformances in the Boston area. Sean is pursuing his Master’s Degree at the New England Conservatory, where he studies with Boston Symphony bassoonist Richard Ranti.

Andrew Thompson - Sherman Walt Bassoon Merit Award - 2011 Andrew Thompson is currently a student at New England Conservatory of Music where heAndrew studies with Richard Ranti. Before moving to Boston he studied at DePaul University with David McGill and Bill Buchman. He has performed several times with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra including an appearance as soloist, subscription series concerts, and at the Ravinia Festival. Other solo appearances have been with the DePaul Symphony Orchestra and DePaul Baroque Ensemble. From 2008-2010 Drew was a regular member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and their MusiCorps Woodwind Quintet that gave frequent community outreach concerts. His summer will be spent in Breckenridge, CO performing with the National Repertory Orchestra.
When not playing music and worrying about reeds Drew enjoys swing dancing and tasting fine wines and scotch.

David Richmond and Michelle Keem - Sherman Walt Bassoon Merit Award Co-Recipients - 2010
David Richmond - Committed to a spirit of innovation in the arts, Boston-based Richmondbassoonist David Richmond is interested in exploring the relationships between performers and audiences in the shared experience of music. David has performed with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, with the Symphony of Southeast Texas, and as principal with the Ernest Bloch Festival Orchestra. Born in Portland, Oregon, David graduated from Harvard College with a degree in music, magna cum laude, and studied with Ron Haroutunian. Recipient of a John Knowles Paine Traveling Fellowship from the Harvard Music Department, David studied bassoon with George Sakakeeny in New Hampshire and Oberlin, Ohio, and received a master's in bassoon performance from the Rice University Shepherd School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Kamins.

Michelle Keem -
Bassoonist Michelle Elyse Keem has performed with orchestras in the United States, Canada, and Italy, including the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, NewKeem England Conservatory’s Philharmonia, and the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific. She has also appeared as soloist with the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, and was awarded an honorable mention in the 2007 Boston Woodwind Society Sherman Walt Merit Bassoon Competition. Ms. Keem has participated in the Oberlin in Italy program in Tuscany, and has also attended the New York State Summer School for the Arts and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. She is currently a Senior at New England Conservatory where she studies with Richard Svoboda.

Laura Bennett Cameron - Sherman Walt Bassoon Merit Award - 2009 Laura LauraBennett Cameron brings passion and enthusiasm to all that she plays. She began studying bassoon at the age of 14 and has since studied with Randy Doo, Paul Onspaugh, Rick Duhaime, Dr. Tina Carpenter, and Richard Svoboda. Ms. Bennett Cameron's orchestral experience includes playing several seasons with the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra and guest performances with the Amarillo Opera and the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra. She graduated Summa cum Laude with a Bachelor of Music in bassoon performance from West Texas A&M, where she studied with Dr. Carpenter and earned several performance scholarships. In addition to playing principal in all major ensembles there, she was a founding member of the West Texas Wind Quintet. One of the highlights of Ms. Bennett Cameron's solo career was her performance of Weber's Concerto for Bassoon in F Major, which she performed as the first-place winner of WTAMU Symphony Orchestra's Concerto Competition.Ms. Bennett Cameron recently earned her Master of Music degree, graduating summa cum laude from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she studied with Richard Svoboda. She will continue her studies in the fall of 2009 at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, pursuing a Doctor of Music degree.

Sebastian Chaves - Sherman Walt Bassoon Merit Award - 2008 A native of Costa Rica, Sebastian Chaves is Principal Bassoon of the Orchestra of Indian Hill, Acting ChavesPrincipal of the New Bedford Symphony and bassoon faculty at Youth and Muse Boston Summer Music Camp. He holds a BM and BME from Louisiana State University and a MM from New England Conservatory, where he is currently pursuing a Gaduate Diploma. Sebastian has received fellowships from such music festivals as the Verbier Festival Orchestra (Switzerland), Aspen Music Festival (CO), Stuttgart Ensemble (Germany), among others. He freelances throughout New England with the Boston Philharmonic, Boston Opera, Boston Ballet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and the Portland Symphony. His principal teachers include Richard Ranti, Richard Svoboda, William Ludwig, John Hunt, Peter Schoenbach, and Per Hannevold. Sebastian is also a certified microelectronics technician and has been an anthropology major at the University of Costa Rica.

Micahla Cohen - Sherman Walt Bassoon Merit Award - 2007 Originally from MicalaMinneapolis, MN Micahla now attends the New England Conservatory of Music, studying with Mr. Richard Svoboda. She participates in NEC's Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Chamber Music Department and Opera Department. She has also played with NEC's Philharmonic Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra, as well as for composers in the Boston area. Micahla is the recipient of multiple scholarships including the Village Scholars Scholarship, Groth Music Scholarship and NEC's Most-Improved-Musician Scholarship. She has participated in the Sarasota Music Festival in Florida as well as the Manchester Music Festival in Vermont. Micahla is passionate about music, enjoys performing and aspires to play professionally.

Sarah Cryan Gardner - Sherman Walt Bassoon Merit Award - 2006 Originally from the Philadelphia area, Sarah did her undergraduate work in bassoon with Matthew SarahRuggiero at Boston University's College of Fine Arts and earned her Bachelor of Music degree in May of 2006, graduating summa cum laude. An active orchestral performer, Sarah has also appeared as soloist in Mozart's Concerto for Bassoon, K. 191. Through a rigorous selection process, Sarah was chosen to participate in the Kent Blossom Music Festival at Kent State University in the summer of 2006, where she studied and performed chamber music with members of the Cleveland Orchestra. Boston University welcomed Sarah back in the fall of 2006 so that she could start working on her Master's degree while studying with the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Richard Ranti. In May 2008, Sarah appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops, playing Mozart's Concerto for Bassoon, K. 191.

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