Now Hear This: An Interview with Laura Bennett Cameron

Dr. Laura Bennett Cameron – performer, teacher, authority on French composer Roger Boutry. Read on to learn more about the musician and her special connection with the pieces on Saturday’s program, WOOD MUSIC.

Photo of Dr. Laura Bennett Cameron with bassoon

What piece on the program are you most excited about? What should we listen for? Oh! That’s a tough one. For me, I think I’m the most excited to play the Poulenc. It’s a standard chamber work for the bassoon, but this will be my first time to play it! I think the Glinka will also be interesting; it’s usually performed with violin or clarinet, so we’re breaking the mold a little using the oboe — but listening to the piece, it’s a natural and beautiful fit. I’m Paris right now, and just put the finishing touches on Rencontres with the sound engineer, and so I’ve got a renewed excitement for that piece, too. This concert will be the work’s Dallas premiere!

You recorded a CD of Roger Boutry’s music WITH Roger Boutry also performing. How did that come about? What was that experience like? Absolutely sublime. Boutry was a big name in French music for most of the 20th century, and we recorded in France. It was like a dream come true to work with a musician of his caliber, with his finesse and technical skill. It could have been terrifying to record a composer’s works with the composer, but he was kind, flexible, and appreciative. The week we recorded that CD will always be one of the high points in my life: making beautiful music, working with a living composer, and enjoying the food and culture of Paris with Parisians.

Is chamber music for bassoon a big part of the repertoire?  It really is. I love playing chamber music for the same reasons many musicians do: the intimacy, sharing creative control over the artistic direction, and the blend of timbres. But being bassoonist who plays chamber music is especially great: the bassoon can play very high, very low, and everywhere in between. So that means we’re equally at home as the supportive bass line, a flexible inner voice, or as the soloist or melody. Chamber music really allows bassoonists to showcase what a unique instrument we play.

How old were you when you started playing bassoon? Why did you choose it? Did you learn other instruments? I actually started on the saxophone! My band director said, “Laura, we have too many saxes. We need more bassoons.” I said, “OK.” I remembered my mom, listening to WRR, saying, “Oh, do you hear that beautiful bassoon?” several times, so I thought it might make her happy. I started in eighth grade. Within just a few months, the bassoon became a part of my body. I was much better at the bassoon than I ever was at the saxophone; I simply fell in love with the instrument. When my sister, a college music major, came home for Christmas that year, I asked her how a person could make a living playing bassoon. She said, “Do you want to play or teach?” I said, “Both!” So she told me to get a doctorate and practice a lot. As a matter of fact, I met Emily Levin playing chamber music during my doctorate!


What type of music did you listen growing up?
As I mentioned earlier, my mother had great taste in classical music, so I got to hear a lot of WRR. For an amateur singer, my mother had a surprising amount of baroque period instrument recordings, so I heard a lot of Bach and Mozart growing up. I didn’t realize until much later how fortunate I was to have those excellent recordings in my ear from a young age.

What do you listen to now? I’m ashamed to admit that I listen to a lot of pop. Like, Top 40, usually-not-that-creative pop. :-\  Heaven help the person who hears me in my car or the shower!

Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play? Such thought-provoking questions! To listen, perhaps Beethoven or Stravinsky. They’re very different but engage the listener with equally complex music. I think to play, it’s probably Mozart. His music requires technique, but even more finesse. It’s playful and sophisticated, and at times fraught with more emotion than most classical music. Mozart and really comes alive with the right interpretation, and I love creating that interpretation with others.

What advice would you give 14-year-old Laura? Listen to more –and better–bassoon recordings! There’s more repertoire out there than you think. Hang on every word your bassoon teacher says. And you should practice with a metronome more.

What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college?  (1) Find someone who does what you want to do when you graduate. Ask them how they got there. (2)  Know what you want to sound like, and truly listen to yourself when you practice. You’ll never make worthwhile changes to your playing because someone tells you to: you will only improve when you’re not satisfied with the distance between yourself and your goal.

What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical), and your least favorite sound (musical or non-musical)?  My favorite sound is either my husband’s voice (sappy, I know), or the sound of my dog running to greet me at the door.


When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear? Hmm…I want to hear Brahms tell me he’s written a sonata for bassoon and piano, and I’m just in time to hear the heavenly premiere.


Hallam Family Concerts: Season Announcement

New name, new leadership for new season

Free classical music concert series packs an artistic punch with exciting programming

DALLAS (August 28, 2019) – Fine Arts Chamber Players (FACP) unveils the 2019–2020 season of its free Hallam Family Concert Series at the Dallas Museum of Art: seven virtuosic programs featuring Dallas’s top professional musicians. Emily Levin, Principal Harp of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, serves as Artistic Director of the series. Ms. Levin was appointed in March 2019 after Rogene Russell, FACP’s Co-Founder and Artistic Director, had announced her retirement and an executive search was held.

“In my first season as Artistic Director of the series, I wanted to craft programs that highlight the incredible talent here in Dallas, and feature music that connects to the art, culture, and writing of its time,” Ms. Levin explains. “At each concert, the audience will be able to hear great music performed by great musicians and will also be invited to explore the broader world surrounding each piece.”

The season is varied in instrumentation and musical character. The Hallam Family Concert season, outlined below, features known and obscure works for the harp, oboe, bassoon, trumpet paired with guitar, and groupings of string musicians. FACP is honored to have several preeminent members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and other local ensembles featured throughout the series. 

Hallam Family Concerts, 2019-2020 Season

  • Saturday afternoons: October 5, November 2, January 25, February 29, March 28, April 25, May 9
  • All concerts begin at 3 p.m., doors to the auditorium open at 2:30 p.m.
  • Horchow Auditorium in the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 N. Harwood St., Dallas 75201)
  • FREE. No tickets required. General admission to the DMA is also free. Families with children welcome.

October 5, 2019: FRENCH IMPRESSIONS 

Hallam Concerts Artistic Director Emily Levin is joined by flutist Ebonee Thomas and violist Sarah Kienle in a program of stunningly colorful trios that pay homage to the French Impressionist era of Monet, Debussy, Renoir, and Ravel. The afternoon also includes music by Toru Takemitsu. Of note, the DMA recently re-opened its European art galleries with a reinstallation of treasurers, including masterworks of French Impressionism gifted to the museum by Margaret and Eugene McDermott. FACP’s program will reference the DMA’s collection.

November 2, 2019: WOOD MUSIC

In this concert featuring “wood” instruments, Poulenc’s trio, a quintessential piece for oboe, bassoon, and piano, is paired with two other works for these instruments  by Francaix and living French composer Roger Boutry.

January 25, 2020: TALES OF THE MACABRE

The great American writer Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809. Come celebrate his 210th birthday with an afternoon of his most chilling short stories, dramatically told through music for harp and string quartet alongside Schubert’s eerie masterpiece “Death and the Maiden.” Emily Levin will perform with PLUS Quartet, a string ensemble whose members come from the DSO.

February 29, 2020: ENGLISH SENTIMENT

Experience the lush harmony and beautiful colors of three extraordinary British composers in a musical journey across the pond that showcases the Dallas Symphony’s Principal Oboist, Erin Hannigan, and members of the DSO strings.

March 28, 2020: MUSICA 

Trumpet wunderkind Elmer Churampi is featured in an incredible afternoon of virtuosic and vibrant trumpet and guitar music from his native Peru. Mr. Churampi appears courtesy of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, where he is a member of the trumpet section.

April 25, 2020: A TRAGIC GENIUS

Tchaikovsky’s epic masterpiece for violin, cello, and piano takes center stage this month, in a touching tribute to the teachers of Jolyon Pegis, DSO Associate Principal Cello; and DSO violinist Shu Lee, who performed this same work when they were college students.

May 9, 2020: STARS OF TOMORROW, the Charles Barr Memorial

The Charles Barr Memorial Concert showcases the best and brightest of Dallas young musicians. Don’t miss the next generation of musical virtuosi.


Overview – Fine Arts Chamber Players

  • Hallam Family Concerts: monthly, FREE chamber music concert series on Saturday afternoons, October – May (excluding December); performed in the Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art; 3 p.m.; newly appointed Artistic Director of the series is Emily Levin (pronounced luh-VEEN)
  • Basically Beethoven Festival: FREE chamber music concerts on Sunday afternoons in July at Moody Performance Hall; 2:30 p.m.; the Festival celebrates its 40th season in the summer of 2020; the Basically Beethoven Festival Director is Dr. Alex McDonald
  • Music Education Programs: FREE education programs including Musical Residencies at two Dallas ISD high schools and at an east Dallas charter school; FACP Teaching Artists lead individual and small group lessons in voice, piano, and violin to students with financial need; instruction provided at no cost to students and schools

FACP was founded in 1981 with the FREE Basically Beethoven Festival, which quickly became Dallas’ premier summer chamber music festival. In 1984, FACP began the Bancroft Family Concert series performing in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art. Starting with the 2019-2020 season, that series has been renamed the Hallam Family Concert series under its new sponsorship. FACP also maintains educational programs via musical residencies in select Dallas schools, masterclasses, and a troupe who creates original educational material for school performances. To date, FACP has served more than 250,000 children with education programs and performed quality classical music for over half a million North Texas citizens – all completely free of charge.


Hallam Family Concerts debut in October 2019

Flagship concert series renamed for new sponsors Fanchon & Howard Hallam

Fine Arts Chamber Players (FACP) announces a new partnership with Dallas philanthropists and business leaders Fanchon and Howard Hallam. Beginning in October 2019, FACP’s free chamber music concert series at the Dallas Museum of Art will be renamed the Hallam Family Concerts, in honor of their multi-year commitment.

“Fanchon and I are proud to support Fine Arts Chamber Players and the free programming they offer our community,” Mr. Hallam explained. “We were happy to sponsor this concert series.”

 

“The Hallams have championed FACP’s mission and our work for years,” said FACP Executive Director Emily Guthrie. “Many organizations in town have benefitted from their generosity and we are honored to have this new partnership.” 

 

“This sponsorship allows FACP to continue our free concert series that is truly a unique offering,” Ms. Guthrie remarked. “FACP remains the only arts group in Dallas that features professional musicians, compensates them for their time and talent, while never charging admission. I am beyond pleased to announce that the concerts will remain free for all, staged monthly at the DMA on Saturday afternoons from October through May.”

 

For 35 years, the concerts at the DMA were named the Bancroft Family Concerts. “FACP has been privileged to have the support of the Bancroft family for the concert series and for FACP education programs. Their sponsorship truly helped build this series that is one of the pillars of our community offerings. We are so grateful for it,” Ms. Guthrie said.

 

“We were inspired by the leadership the Bancroft family showed,” Mr. Hallam added, “and we’re honored to continue that for FACP.”

 

Earlier this year Rogene Russell, FACP’s Co-founder and Artistic Director, announced her retirement and the appointment of Emily Levin as Artistic Airector of this concert series. Ms. Levin is Principal Harp of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

 

“The support of Fanchon and Howard and the new leadership team of Emily Levin and Emily Guthrie mark a new era for FACP. It’s very exciting to see the path ahead,” Ms. Russell said. “The organization is in good hands: FACP will continue to create remarkable musical experiences for our audience.”

 

Ms. Levin added, “The enthusiasm shared between audience and musicians speaks to the success of this series in engaging the community. With the support from the Hallams, I am eager to continue the legacy of these concerts.”


Overview – Fine Arts Chamber Players

  • Hallam Family Concerts: monthly, FREE chamber music concert series on Saturday afternoons, October – May (excluding December); performed in the Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art; 3 p.m.; newly appointed Artistic Director Emily Levin (pronounced luh-VEEN)

 

  • Basically Beethoven Festival: FACP’s inaugural program; FREE chamber music concerts on Sunday afternoons in July at Moody Performance Hall; 2:30 p.m.; Dr. Alex McDonald is the Basically Beethoven Festival Director

 

  • FREE education programs including Musical Residencies at three Dallas ISD high schools and at an east Dallas charter school; FACP Teaching Artists lead individual and small group lessons in voice, piano, and violin to students with financial need; instruction and instruments provided at no cost to students and schools

 


 

FACP was founded in 1981 with the FREE Basically Beethoven Festival, which quickly became Dallas’ premier summer chamber music festival. In 1984, FACP began the Bancroft Family Concert series performing in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art. Starting with the 2019-2020 season, that series will be named the Hallam Family Concerts. FACP also maintains educational programs via musical residencies in select Dallas schools, masterclasses, and a troupe who creates original educational material for school performances. To date, FACP has served more than 250,000 children with education programs and performed quality classical music for over half a million North Texas citizens – all completely free of charge.