Bassoon courses and projects

Five-day Bassoon Course

in the beautiful English Lake District

Wednesday 24th - Sunday 28th April 2024
at Higham Hall, Bassenthwaite, Cumbria
(Course begins with supper on 24th April at 6.30pm, ends at 2pm after lunch on 28th April)

Tutored by Laurence Perkins and Roger Birnstingl
with pianist John Gough 

Birnstingl collage JPG
Higham Hall, near Bassenthwaite lake
Higham Hall, near Bassenthwaite lake

A big welcome to Roger Birnstingl on the Wind Serenades 5-day bassoon course at Higham Hall!

Looking forward to five days (4 nights) of 'bassoonery' and musical inspiration - and all for just £560, inclusive of excellent accommodation, superb Cumbrian food and spectacular views of the Lakeland hills.

If you love bassoon playing and you want to explore ways of making it easier and more enjoyable, this is the course for you!

Expert advice on

❋ Posture
❋ Breathing
❋ Embouchure
❋ Good tone and tuning
❋ Sound projection
❋ Reed adjustment
❋ Fingerings
❋ Technical fluency
❋ Practice technique
❋ Musical interpretation

There will also be optional reed-making sessions - and, of course, great opportunities to play in bassoon ensembles! You can enjoy an informal Tutors Concert, as well as time for relaxation and socialising.

You can also take part in an optional Performance Class with concert pianist John Gough - a chance to play one of your favourite works, along with helpful feedback and expert guidance on musical style and interpretation.
(Players may request to take part in the Performance Class if they wish, and will be allocated a slot in the class. Time is limited, music of maximum 6-8 minutes duration is recommended. Other players not taking part may listen, or can play untutored ensemble music, as they prefer.)

What happened to Amy Thompson?
Amy - who was with us in past courses - is now playing with South Bank Sinfonia in London. Huge congratulations to her for this tremendous achievement! 

Travel is easy...
Travel to Higham Hall by car via M6 / A66, or by train to Penrith main line station with optional minibus transfer directly to Higham (book transfer directly with the Higham Hall office).


Book now!

This course is hugely popular, places are limited, and applications are on a first-come first-served basis.
(Only players aged 18 or over may apply for this residential course).

Click HERE to go directly to the on-line application form.

Please note: although every effort will be made to run the course as scheduled, all details may be subject to change without notice.

Bassenthwaite lake, just a short distance from Higham Hall
Bassenthwaite lake, just a short distance from Higham Hall
Emerson Edition cover

Carl Maria von Weber

Concerto in F major
for bassoon and orchestra
Op. 75

New Urtext edition by Laurence Perkins, published by Emerson Edition


Version for bassoon and piano
Urtext solo part, and new piano accompaniment based on Weber's orchestration.

Version for bassoon and orchestra
Urtext edition based on the composer's 1822 manuscript, with full score (including detailed editorial notes) and orchestral parts for sale or hire.

Click HERE to order this music directly from Emerson Edition - versions with piano or orchestra, printed edition or digital download.

A brand new and much-needed piano realisation of Weber's orchestral accompaniment

The accompaniment to this Concerto was clearly conceived by Weber orchestrally, with plenty of wonderful detail, satisfying harmonies and chord groupings, and some highly imaginative part-writing. All this cannot be reproduced in playable form in a piano part, and earlier attempts at piano reductions often included passages which were un-pianistic and clumsy for the pianist, and not all that satisfying from an audience’s perspective.

This new piano reduction has gone right back to the original orchestration, reproducing the essential details in Weber’s excellent orchestral writing and reproducing as far as possible the depth and detail of the orchestration, whilst remaining pianistic in style and playable by a pianist with reasonable technical skills. 

This new bassoon-and-piano edition includes the same Urtext solo part as the full orchestral version.


A new Urtext orchestral edition with orchestral parts for sale or hire

Weber wrote his Concerto for bassoon and orchestra Op.75 in November 1811 for George Friedrich Brandt. Weber returned to the work in 1822, making several revisions before passing it on to his publisher Schlesinger in Berlin who issued parts (but no score) the following year. The first printed orchestral score was published in 1952. This new Urtext edition returns to Weber’s original markings in his 1822 manuscript (with occasional references to the earlier 1811 version). Markings which are editorial are clearly indicated in the score and parts, and there are detailed editorial notes in the full score.


Weber Bassoon Concerto
recorded by Laurence Perkins for the Hyperion record label, with Manchester Camerata conducted by Douglas Boyd.

LISTEN to three excerpts - click below:

Weber Bassoon Concerto - 200th anniversary

Wednesday 3rd August 2022 in the Kennedy Hall, Cecil Sharp House, London

More than 30 bassoonists gathered in London to celebrate this great masterpiece for bassoon, which was completed (in its final version) by Weber on 3rd August 1822. They gave a live performance with soloist Amy Thompson in a new version (currently unpublished) for bassoon ensemble by Laurence Perkins, who conducted the performance.

Enjoy the entire performance here - click below!


led by Laurence Perkins


2019: HANDEL 'Musick for the Royal Fireworks'
270th anniversary performance at the Royal Academy of Music, London, conducted by Laurence Perkins on 27th April 2019
(BDRS/RAM joint promotion)
Hear the complete performance on the BDRS website - click HERE


2018 - Year of the Bassoon
On-line audio recordings and videos including

Laurence Perkins: Bassoon Anthem  A multitrack recording of a piece specially composed by Laurence Perkins for the 2018 project - listen free to the full track on Spotify, click HERE

Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story  Four songs recorded by Laurence with pianist Yoshiko Endo playing the piano that once belonged to Leonard Bernstein, and may possibly have been used in the composition of this music.Click HERE for a free YouTube sampler of these recordings, or download MP3 files from iTunes or Amazon - click the appropriate link.

Michel Corrette: Two Arias  Recorded on location in woodland in the south of France, with owls, cicadas, bird song and a distant chapel bell. Click HERE for a free sampler of these recordings, or download MP3 files from Amazon - click the appropriate link.

Volodymyr Runchak: Lamento and Moto Perpetuo  Two contemporary pieces which explore the bassoon in highly expressive ways. Listen free to the full performances on YouTube - click HERE

Catriona McDermid  Video of a young professional bassoonist (a former student of Laurence Perkins) making her way in the challenging environment of professional playing in London. See this on YouTube - click HERE


The Vibrant '60s
A double-reed ensemble performance (oboes and bassoons) in St. James's Park, London - 3rd June 2017

(a British Double Reed Society event)


RNCM 'Young Bassoons'
Free Sunday morning sessions led by Laurence Perkins, for school-age bassoonists of any playing level. For details, click HERE


International Bassoon Day
Sunday 11th October 2015

and Autumn 2015 UK bassoon project

This was a marathon two-month education project, beginning with International Bassoon Day on Sunday 11th October 2015, followed by a total of 35 events around the UK - 27 'Bear-faced Bassoonery' presentations, plus 8 performances of the concert programme 'Bassoon Voyager' (click here for details).

Massed bassoons outside the Royal Albert Hall, London, on International Bassoon Day, 11th October 2015 (photo by John Durham)
Massed bassoons outside the Royal Albert Hall, London, on International Bassoon Day, 11th October 2015 (photo by John Durham)

The above photo (by John Durham) was taken on the steps of the Royal Albert Hall, on International Bassoon Day - 38 bassoonists gathered to play Mozart on a beautifully sunny lunchtime. Watch excerpts of the London event on YouTube - click HERE to see this delightful memento of a special occasion!
Martin Jones has also put his own film of the RAH event on YouTube - click HERE to see it.

Bassoon quartets live on BBC Radio 3

A feature about International Bassoon Day was the first item on BBC Radio 3's popular drive-time In Tune programme two days previously  on Friday 9th October 2015, and featured four bassoonists from different walks of life. Listen to a performance from that live radio broadcast - the performers are Laurence Perkins, Rachel Whibley, Matthew Kitteringham and Alex Kane.

Mozart: Adagio, KV580a (arranged for bassoon quartet by Laurence Perkins) - duration 4’35"