The bassoon is the lowest member of the woodwind family and is essentially a long tube, folded in half, with lots of metal keys. If you were to “unfold” a bassoon, it would be almost 8 feet long! Even though the bassoon is much taller and bigger than the oboe, both instruments have a double reed. And, just like oboe players, bassoon players typically make their own reeds using cane, cork and thread.
Principal Bassoon, Norman B. Mears Chair
J. Christopher Marshall
Acting Associate Principal Bassoon
Bassoon / Contrabassoon
Xie joined the Minnesota Orchestra as principal bassoon at the beginning of the 2017-18 season after serving as principal bassoonist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra—an ensemble he first joined as second bassoonist in 2008. When he won the principal role in 2012, Xie became the first Chinese-born bassoonist to hold such a position in a major American symphony orchestra. He was previously a member of the Houston Grand Opera, principal bassoonist of the Mansfield Symphony in Ohio, and has appeared as guest principal bassoonist with orchestras such as Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Houston Symphony and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Texas native J. Christopher Marshall, a member of the Minnesota Orchestra since 1999, earned his master’s degree in bassoon performance at the New England Conservatory of Music. He holds two undergraduate degrees from Northwestern University: one in bassoon performance and the other in mechanical engineering. Before joining the Minnesota Orchestra, Marshall was a member of Florida’s New World Symphony.
Marshall has appeared as a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra in performances of Dietter’s Concerto for Two Bassoons in 2008, reprising the work in subsequent seasons. An active chamber musician, he also performs regularly on the Minnesota Orchestra’s Chamber Music series offerings. He has performed as a soloist with the Bloomington and Mankato symphonies. He has appeared with the Boston Symphony and Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the National Symphony, and has participated in numerous music festivals, including Tanglewood, Pacific and Spoleto. As a clinician, he has led master classes and sectionals for many universities as well as community and youth orchestras.
Chicago native Norbert Nielubowski joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 1987 as second bassoon and became the orchestra’s contrabassoonist in 1993. In November 2014 he and his bassoon section colleagues were featured in performances of Dietter’s Concerto for Two Bassoons, with Principal Bassoon John Miller, Jr., playing all three movements, and Nielubowski, Co-Principal Bassoon Mark Kelley and J. Christopher Marshall joining him for one movement each.
Nielubowski has extensive chamber music and solo experience, including numerous performances as part of Sommerfest and the Orchestra’s additional chamber music series. He is co-artistic director of the Musical Offering, a chamber ensemble consisting primarily of Minnesota Orchestra members. He also serves on the faculty of the University of Minnesota where he teaches bassoon and coaches wind chamber music.