MINNEAPOLIS (May 31, 2017) — Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra announced today that Fei Xie (pronounced Fay Shee-eh) has won the position of Principal Bassoon with the Orchestra following an extensive audition process. Xie has served as the Principal Bassoon of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2012. Filling the position previously held for 45 years by John Miller, Jr., he begins his Minnesota Orchestra role at the start of the 2017-18 season.
“I am extremely excited to move to the Twin Cities and to join the Minnesota Orchestra as the new principal bassoonist,” Xie said. “When I played with the Orchestra for my audition, I was so impressed by the dedicated playing of the musicians and the strong leadership of Music Director Osmo Vänskä. I was also overwhelmed with support and a warm welcome from the musicians.”
Xie is currently the 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 guest principal bassoonist with the Houston Symphony and Baltimore Chamber Orchestra.
Xie made his concerto debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in performances of Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, receiving high praise from critics of The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun. He has performed at many summer festivals including Festival Mozaic, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Tanglewood Music Center, National Repertory Orchestra and Music Academy of the West. In 2010, he was a finalist and prize-winner at the International Double Reed Society’s Gillet-Fox competition, where he was the only American bassoonist chosen for the final round.
An avid educator, Xie has taught masterclasses at conservatories and festivals throughout the U.S., China and Brazil. He is currently on the faculty at the University of Maryland and will be the bassoon coach for the inaugural season of the NYO-China (National Youth Orchestra of China) this summer. He also served as a faculty member at Campos do Jordão International Music Festival in Brazil for two seasons. While in Brazil, Xie performed Kalevi Aho’s Quintet for Bassoon and Strings with the award-winning Quarteto Radamés Gnattali and was described by Aho himself as having “the perfect sound.”
A native of China, Xie comes from a musical family. His parents and uncle are renowned Peking Opera musicians. He started piano lessons at age three and began bassoon studies when he was 13. He now holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory and a master’s degree from Rice University. His primary teachers and influences are George Sakakeeny and Benjamin Kamins, who was associate principal bassoon of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1972 to 1981.
“Fei is not only a great player, but will also be a terrific colleague,” said acting principal bassoon Mark Kelley. “We are all — especially the bassoon section — looking forward to having him join the Minnesota Orchestra.”