By Jason Stephens, ROCO librarian
As ROCO’s orchestra librarian, I find and order all the music that ROCO plays in their full chamber orchestra concerts . . . And occasionally, I get some obscure requests that are a little harder to find. Last year, Alecia and Kristin Wolfe Jensen approached me about finding a bassoon concerto by French composer François Devienne for Kristin to perform during the 2013-2014 season. After originally ordering the solo part for a different concerto from Germany (apparently, Devienne wrote TWO bassoon concertos in C Major), I ran into a wall and couldn’t seem to find any reference to this piece being in publication.
In the orchestra library world, there are some giants and gurus that librarians turn to . . . And this piece definitely warranted extra help. I sent an email to the best of the best, Clinton Nieweg, retired Principal Librarian of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He found only one reference to this particular concerto in the world . . . At the University of Iowa’s Music Library. After speaking to the Head Librarian, I was emailed scans of the microfilm parts (which are scans of the originally published parts from the 1800’s.) Unfortunately, there was no score for a conductor to use, just the individual instrumental parts. It was then that the challenge began.
I entered all the music into a music notation software over the next several months, fixing trouble spots and errors along the way. I even flexed my inner nerd by finding a doctoral dissertation about Devienne that helped with some historical research along the way. With the invaluable help of both Kristin and conductor Alastair Willis, we have reconstructed this piece for ROCO to perform in April 2014. Along the way, I also took the orchestra parts and reduced them down to be covered by a pianist so Kristin could perform this piece in a few recitals around the country . . . why should orchestras have all the fun after all!
I am so thrilled that Kristin will perform and Alastair will conduct this music. It has been a labor of love for the last year for me and I know ROCO audiences will love it as well. Now with this challenge officially conquered, I can’t wait to see what ROCO has in store for next year!