Top 5: Gina Cuffari, bassoonist for Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Gina Cuffari, bassoonist for Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (Oct. 15 / Loeb Playhouse), selected the top five albums she’s currently listening to—”probably not the answers you’d expect from a classical bassoonist…”
- Solo – Vijay Iyer – I am a jazz-lover, so it is thrilling to be collaborating with Vijay this season with Orpheus. I have been doing “research” for the past few weeks by immersing myself in his music. This solo piano album includes inventive interpretations of tunes by Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, even Michael Jackson (“Human Nature” – one of my favorites!), as well as Vijay’s own compositions. This album showcases why he is known as one of the most compelling musicians and composers on the scene today – can’t wait to work with him!
- Splitting Adams – Alarm Will Sound and Meet the Composer – Alarm Will Sound is a contemporary music group/band made up of fantastic musicians and lovely humans beings – I am lucky enough to call all of them my friends! That alone makes it fun to listen to, but this presentation of John Adams’ two Chamber Symphonies is very unique – it’s structured as two separate podcasts (one for each chamber symphony). It’s an extremely creative way to structure an album, and a fantastic way to engage the listener. Even though I’ve had this on repeat for a few days, I can’t help but get drawn in each time I listen…. (If you’re a fan of podcasts, I highly recommend this album)
- Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers – There really isn’t a style or genre of music that I don’t enjoy (well, maybe I draw the line at death metal…). This album fuses two of my favorites – Broadway and R&B – into a unique reimagining of Richard Rodgers greatest hits. Standards like “My Funny Valentine”, “My Romance”, and “I Have Dreamed” are sung by current Broadway stars (and some R&B artists) with a soulful twist. This is one that I crank up in my car, and belt along with!
- Quadrophenia – The Who – My husband and I were recently involved with a production of “Classic Quadrophenia” at the Metropolitan Opera House. It was pretty amazing – Pete Townshend’s entire rock opera was arranged for an 80-piece orchestra and large chorus. Pete played guitar while Alfie Boe and Billy Idol sang. Before these performances, I had only heard the song “Love, Reign O’er Me”. Now I can’t get enough of the entire double album – it’s a true rock masterpiece.
- Moana Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – My 7 year old daughter and I took a road trip recently, and this Disney soundtrack was a MUST. Just like her mom, she loves singing in the car at the top of her lungs. This is her current favorite (tied for close second are Hamilton and Bernstein’s On the Town). I love that we share the same passion for music and singing. Now, if I can only convince her to love bassoon reed making…..
About Gina Cuffari
Bassoonist Gina Cuffari is a versatile musician who performs with many orchestras and chamber ensembles in the New York City area. Praised for her “sound that is by turns sensuous, lyric, and fast moving” (Palm Beach Daily News), she is thrilled to become the newest member of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. As a frequent performer with the group, she has had multiple appearances in Carnegie Hall, and participated in many tours throughout the US, Europe and Japan. Gina is also a member of the Lincoln Center-based Riverside Symphony, and is a regular performer with the Westchester Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, and Iris Orchestra in Germantown, TN. In addition, she has made several appearances with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, American Ballet Theater, Stamford Symphony and New Haven Symphony. Broadway productions include Fiddler on the Roof and Sunset Boulevard.
As a chamber musician, Gina is a member of the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, Sylvan Winds, and Quintet of the Americas. She has performed in NYC restaurants as part of the Tertulia ensemble, and has performed live music with silent films at Lincoln Center as part of the BQE Ensemble. She is a recent addition to the artist roster of the west coast-based Camerata Pacifica, a renown ensemble which performs throughout California. As a founding member of the Scarborough Trio – a flute, bassoon, and piano ensemble – she has performed extensively throughout the US, and has garnered top prizes at the Fischoff, Yellow Springs, and Artists International Competitions, resulting in her professional debut at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall.
Gina is also a champion of new music, and has performed with the Argento New Music Project, ACME, and has recorded the Schoenberg Wind Quintet and Stockhausen Zeitmasse for Albany Records with the Phoenix Ensemble. As a frequent collaborator with Alarm Will Sound, Gina has toured and performed with the group as bassoonist, contrabassoonist, pianist, and vocalist, and can be heard on their recent Splitting Adams album (music of John Adams). Gina has premiered new works written for her two quintets, Sylvan Winds and Quintet of the Americas, and has commissioned and premiered solo works combining her two passions – bassoon and voice – at SubCulture NYC and Stony Brook University.
Gina is a passionate educator, and is on faculty at both New York University and Western Connecticut State University. She teaches lessons, coaches chamber music, and teaches classes including Reed Making, Bassoon Pedagogy, and Music History and Appreciation. She spends her summers teaching at NYU’s Summer Woodwind Institute.
Gina is an active member of the International Double Reed Society and has presented lectures and recitals at several conferences. As a co-host for the 2014 International Double Reed Society conference at NYU, Gina helped organize the largest IDRS event in its 43 year history – producing almost 200 concerts, lectures, masterclasses, workshops and special events in five days.
Gina is a graduate of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Manhattan School of Music, and recently completed her Doctorate of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University. She is grateful for her incredible teachers throughout the years – Kathy Reynolds, William Winstead and Frank Morelli.