ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: "CONTRABASSOONIST WITH A CAUSE"
What could be more intriguing than the idea of a
normal-sized female musician making a solo career on a huge instrument weighing 15 pounds
and containing over 18 feet of tubing? Contrabassoon crusader Susan Nigro, a native of the
south side of Chicago, has done exactly this - made a name for herself as one of the
world's very few soloists on this instrument. Not content merely
with orchestral freelance work, the "Contrabassoonist with a Cause" has made it
her mission to bring this little-known but important instrument the long overdue attention
and respect it deserves.
Ms. Nigro's quest for contrabassoon solo literature has led her to commission and perform many new compositions, and she has premiered more than 4 dozen solo works for this instrument. Some of these new pieces have been published, and others are in the publication process. Susan is also a recording artist, and has 8 CDs currently on the market: "The Big Bassoon" (1995), "Little Tunes for the Big Bassoon" (1997), "The Two Contras" - in collaboration with retired CSO contra player Burl Lane (1999), "The Bass Nightingale" - (2001), "New Tunes for the Big Bassoon", (2003), "Italian Tunes for the Big Bassoon" - (2005), "Original Tunes for the Big Bassoon" (2008), and "Joplin Tunes for the Big Bassoon"(2014) - for which she received a Bronze Medial in instrumental solo performance from Global Music Awards in March of 2016. Clips from these discs may be heard on the recordings page of www.bigbassoon.com and excerpts from these CDs have been aired on WFMT/WDCB/WNUR/WNIB - in Chicago, WNTI - in New Jersey, and 2MBS-FM - In Australia.
Susan was the winner of a Pro Musicis International Career Development Grant, and a
finalist in the Chicago Park District Talent Search. She received an honorable mention
prize in the Rome Festival Concerto Competition, a competitive
national audition. Her orchestral experience has included regular subbing with the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra, previous work with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Fort Wayne
Philharmonic, and extensive freelancing in the Chicago area. She
earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University, and an additional
graduate degree from Roosevelt University. Her teachers were Burl Lane, Ferdinand Del
Negro, Willard Elliot, Leonard Sharrow, Sherman Walt, and Wilbur Simpson. She
was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center for three summers, where she was awarded the Henry B. Cabot Prize,
and honed her ensemble skills in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
In May 2007, the Order Sons of Italy in America, State of Illinois, bestowed
upon Susan their Leonardo da Vinci Award of Excellence in the field of
Performing Arts, and in November 2017, she received an Alumni Award from the
Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.