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Campbell, Jefferson



Recently appointed as Dean of the College of the Arts and Media at Central Michigan University, Dr. Jefferson Campbell has built a reputation as an international bassoon performer and pedagogue of high demand who has performed on stages throughout the United States and the world. With a focus on music that appeals to all audiences, Campbell has commissioned and premiered over 20 new works for the bassoon in recent years, and has been featured on four compact disc recordings including the Grammy-nominated Nostalgia, and online videos with tens of thousands of views. Among his several compact disc recordings, Nostalgia (Innova), which features Dr. Campbell as soloist and chamber musician, was a Grammy Award semifinalist in 2009.

He has performed with the Bowling Green Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Owensboro Symphony, Greensboro Symphony, Sioux City Symphony, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Richland-Kennewick Symphony, the Chengdu Philharmonic, Minnesota Ballet Orchestra, and currently a tenured member of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Campbell has presented master classes at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in Chengdu, China, the Conservatoire Regionnale Rayonnement Boulogne-Billancourt in Paris, France, the Conservatoire Regionnale Rayonnement Lyon in France, the Conservatorio de Tatui in Brazil,  the Glazunov Conservatory in Petrozavodsk, Russia, the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and in North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. He has performed as a recital soloist in Florida, California, Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, Nebraska, Minnesota and also Germany, France, Brazil, Russia and China.

As a member of the International Double Reed Society, Dr. Campbell has been published in the Double Reed, and has performed and presented at the IDRS Annual Conferences in 2003 (Greensboro), 2006 (Muncie), 2007 (Ithaca), and 2015 (Tokyo, Japan). His New York City debut recital at Symphony Space in January of 2012 was titled “21st Century Bassoon: music that’s fun to play” and featured music composed since 2003. Collaborations with composers Jess Hendricks, Justin Rubin, Steven Moellering, and marimbaist/composer Gene Koshinski have resulted in a series of popular new pieces featuring the bassoon in a variety of settings including bassoon alone, with piano, with electronic playback and with various combinations of percussion. The popular funk percussion/bassoon duet “Get It!” by Koshinski was the result of a commission from Campbell in 2007 and has been performed and recorded by hundreds of performers worldwide.

Dr. Campbell has appeared several times on NPR/PBS radio and television in Nebraska, Michigan, and North Carolina. Dr. Campbell was a featured soloist with the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra in performances of Vivaldi’s Concerto in E Minor and Michael Daugherty’s Dead Elvis in 2016, and appeared as soloist on Jean Françaix’s Divertissement for Bassoon and Strings with the Nebraska Chamber Players in 2018.

Dr. Campbell served as an adjudicator for the 2012 and 2017 Bassoon Chamber Music Composition Competition, the Silver Sounds International Chamber Music Competition in Russia, the Minnesota Music Educator’s Association All-State judge for bassoon, and as soloist at the College Music Society Rocky Mountain conference at the University of Denver. His instructional text Training Wheels for the Bassoon was revised in 2020 for its 15th Anniversary, and he released Pocket Grooves, a compact disc recording of newly-commissioned music for the bassoon on the MSR label in 2019. Dr. Campbell completed a performance and teaching tour of Texas and Oklahoma where he presented recitals of music from this recording project.

In 2022, Dr. Campbell, his wife, soprano Jennifer Campbell, and pianist Alexander Sandor, premiered a newly- commissioned work from composer Jenni Brandon and author/poet Linda LaGarde Grover entitled Sea Smoke, based on the weather phenomenon over Lake Superior, and the Ojibwe stories connected with it. This performance also featured a new commission from composer Gabrielle Liriano for unaccompanied bassoon entitled Cheers!

More about Jefferson Campbell


From the album Pocket Grooves:

"Thanks to Campbell’s technical mastery and his innate musicality and artistry, this disc can be recommended to an audience far beyond the world of bassoonists. With a very natural recorded sound and excellent balances, along with informative, well-written notes by Campbell, my expectations were delightfully exceeded." Henry Fogel, Fanfare [November/December 2019]
"Campbell and pianist Alexander Sandor seem quite at home in jazz styles. Campbell also seems at home in the very high register... Terrific album." Kilpatrick, American Record Guide [November/December 2019]
"Campbell has made his mark by commissioning new works for bassoon to increase its solo repertoire and support its place in music. The result on this CD is highly listenable and worthy of many repeat visits to enjoy its content." Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [November 2019]

From previous albums:

“Campbell is an excellent musician, and just as Rubin has provided him with a broad range of musical styles, Campbell plays these works with ample sensitivity to their differences. He can bumble with the best of bassoonists, but works such as Un temps calme reveal that he also has a troubadour's soul.”-Fanfare magazine

“Campbell’s rich and resonant sound on this and the other works is quite appropriate, especially on Nostalgia” -American Record Guide

“The bassoonist Jefferson Campbell is the heart of the project: in the performance itself, as well as in the inspiration behind some of the pieces. His playing is indeed inspired and inspiring, technically brilliant and expressive. “- MusicWeb International

“This is certainly abetted by Campbell’s sensitive, seamlessly accurate playing. He strikes just the right tone on the title work, allowing its gentle melodies to be poignant but never overwrought. He performs with considerably incisive flair on the wide-ranging and intriguing solo piece Recitative Styrienne and with percussionist Gene Koshinski on a series of elegantly neoclassical Bagatelles for Bassoon and Marimba. “ -Sequenza21


Tragic Animals, Alias Records 1997:  Soloist, chamber musician

Nostalgia, Innova 2008:  Soloist, chamber musician *Grammy Award Semi-Finalist, Chamber Music Composition

Constellations , MSR 2010:  Soloist, chamber musician

A Waltz Through the Vapor, Innova 2012:  Soloist, chamber musician

Ashfall, NCP 2012:  Soloist, chamber musician

Pocket Grooves, MCR Classics 2019; soloist

He holds the Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree from Western Kentucky University, the Master of Music degree in Bassoon Performance and Chamber Music from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Bassoon Performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His primary teachers were Cynthia Estill, C. Larry Long, Mark Popkin, Gary Echols and Dr. Albie Micklich. His dissertation topic was a performance and theoretical analysis of the Duo Sonata for Two Bassoons by Sofia Gubaidulina including a microtonal fingering chart and performance practice for extended techniques. It was the first academic paper on that composer’s work for bassoon. Dr. Campbell has previously held the positions of Professor of Bassoon, Associate Dean of the School of Fine Arts, and Associate Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
His academic research interests lie in the areas of bassoon pedagogy and technology and music for film, where he developed and instructed a course on this topic during his appointment at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Additionally, Dr. Campbell is an authority on the music of the original Star Wars saga, and frequently presents a lecture-presentation called “John Williams: The Other Star Wars Storyteller” in academic and public settings throughout the country. He is an advocate of film music and raising audience awareness of its importance as an element of storytelling and for its own artistic merit.