Susan L. Nigro, contrabassoonist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

My high school band director provided the initial inspiration guiding me into a musical career. My many teachers have been the most important influences on my musical career.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

The two greatest challenges have been: balancing the scheduling of a necessary day job with my musical activities, and persuading people to take the contrabassoon, my instrument of choice, seriously in the solo role which I have featured it.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

My best performance was of the Albinoni Adagio in G Minor which I played several years ago in Madison WI at an annual conference of the International Double Reed Society. My best recording was of the Schuller Contrabassoon Concerto which I recorded a short while back in Newton MA with the composer supervising the sessions.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

Because he is my favourite composer, I think I perform best on the works of Scott Joplin.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

I gain inspiration by listening to other musicians perform and trying to incorporate the best aspects of their playing into my own musical style.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I tailor each performance to the audience that will be attending it, which means that no two performances are ever exactly the same.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

My favourite concert venue is Preston Bradly Hall in the Chicago Cultural Centre, primarily because of the acoustics but also because of the general ambiance.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?

Music needs to appeal to people and be accessible to them, so performers need to get to know the mindset of their audiences and make the music align with their understanding.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

My most memorable concert experience was a program of Italian music I played some years back at the Chicago Italian Cultural Centre which the listeners were very enthusiastic about.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Success in music is being truly understood and respected by your musical colleagues.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Aspiring musicians need to understand that a musical career requires dedication, time, perseverance, and a lot of hard work before the rewarding aspects of it are manifested.

Susan Nigro was labeled “A Veritable Paganini of the Contrabassoon” by Raymond Tuttle, a recordings reviewer for Fanfare Magazine, following the release of one of her earliest CDs. Peter Burwasser, another reviewer for Fanfare, added “Nigro’s verve and virtuosity bring an irresistible charm to the music.” And American Record Guide’s reviewer Ritter summed up with “Susan Nigro’s musicality simply glows.”

Susan is one of the world’s very few contrabassoonists to have made a career of playing recitals, doing solo appearances, and making recordings. She has performed in places such as Salzburg, Montevideo, Rome, and throughout the United States, and also frequently presents master classes. Her quest for solo literature has inspired her to commission and premier more than 4 dozen pieces for the contra – with more compositions still in the works.

Read more