Instruments: Flute and Piccolo
With the RPO since: 1984
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Non-RPO activities and hobbies: cooking, gardening, origami, being with my family (including our two dachshunds)
What music school did you attend, and who were your most inspirational teachers? Northwestern University (Bachelor of Music); Eastman School of Music (Master of Music). My first inspirational teacher was Glennis Metz Stout, my teacher in middle and high school. She also encouraged me to go to New England Music Camp, and to a master class with Marcel Moyse in Brattleboro, VT, who taught the importance of a singing melody – “you can’t just play with a beautiful sound; you have to say something!” My high school band director in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Myles Mazur, was bursting with energy and I think he guided at least a generation of music lovers. At Northwestern, my teacher Walfrid Kujala taught us the importance of being an intricate part of a whole, as an orchestral player; and in Chicago, I learned so many things from Donald Peck about the fine points of orchestral playing. From Bonnie Boyd, I learned the importance of putting yourself into your playing. In the RPO, my most inspirational teachers have been my colleagues, who inspire me every day.
And if you had to pick just one, what’s your favorite piece? The second movement of Ravel’s piano concerto in G Major.
People would be surprised to know that I went to the same elementary school as Barack Obama (Punahou School, in Hawaii)
What do you most enjoy about living in the Rochester area? The camaraderie of the musical community (staff, volunteers, audience and performers), and the proximity to lakes and other natural beauty.
What are your favorite restaurants in Rochester, and why? My perennial favorite: Pittsford Aladdin’s for its fresh, consistent food and great service and location.
The RPO is essential to the Rochester community because… it contributes to the vast array of cultural offerings in town. When we go to GEVA, I feel like I'm on a mini-vacation, and I hope that people feel that way when they go to the RPO.
What sports team(s) do you root for? Whatever team our son is on!
What is your most memorable musical experience? As a graduate student at Eastman, making a recording of Berlioz and Mahler songs with Jan DeGaetani and a faculty/student chamber ensemble. It was the last project she did before she passed away, and I was in awe of her musicianship and her beauty as a person.
Joanna Bassett plays 2nd flute and piccolo in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and began her orchestral career as a member of the Hong Kong Philharmonic. She has performed with the Canandaigua LakeMusic Festival, Skaneateles Festival, Tanglewood Festival Orchestra, Chamber Music Rochester and the First Muse series at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester.
She was the founding president of the Rochester Flute Association and began a second term as president in 2011; she is also is a member of the Rochester Philharmonic League board. Joanna enjoys teaching in her home flute studio and was the initial Program Coordinator of Hochstein at Canandaigua, a resource for music and dance education in the Finger Lakes area. She is also active in the National Flute Association where she has been Coordinator of the Orchestral Audition and Masterclass Competition, Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee and a member of the board of directors. Ms. Bassett has degrees from Northwestern University as a student of Walfrid Kujala and the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Bonita Boyd and Leone Buyse.
Joanna is married to RPO Principal Trombonist Mark Kellogg, and they live in Pittsford with their son Rob and dachshunds Eddie and Antler.
Photo: Kate L Photography