Emblems Quintet

We are dedicated to the enrichment of our individual and collective communities through a shared commitment to social advocacy through music performance and education.

Brandon Rumsey

I have been intrigued by the bassoon since sixth grade band, even though I had chosen the saxophone because of it's reputation as an instrument that cool cats play. This intrigue never left, and after a few doubling gigs, bassoon won out in the end thanks to the help of my influential teachers Steve Vacchi, Kristin Wolfe Jensen, and Jeffrey Lyman. However, it was through playing in a saxophone quartet throughout my undergraduate studies at that I fell in love with playing chamber music.

Because I am a composer-performer, much of the music I have performed was written by living composers and many were world premieres. There is such a range of different styles of music being created today, and am equally excited by challenging music infused with alternative playing techniques as I am playing something luscious and more conventional. I am a huge fan of Sofia Gubaidulina's bassoon music as well as anything by Vivaldi—who is not alive in the flesh, but whose music is alive in its vibrancy!

My identity as a composer, teacher, and LGBTQ studies scholar is deeply entangled with my role as a performer. As a composer, I strive to infuse my music with visceral elements that excite me as a performer. As a performer, I use my training as a composer to understand a musical work as a piece of art by deciphering the intentions of another composer, identifying a piece's emotional possibilities, and analyzing my job as part of a whole. And as a teacher, I first seek to identify what students' long- and short-range priorities are, empowering them to be artistic agents of their own goals. Then, I draw on my experiences as a student, professional musician, and lifetime-learner in order to develop strategies that aim to illuminate fun and thrilling aspects of being an artist that can be applied to whatever musical endeavor they wish to accomplish.

Brandon is a Graduate Student Instructor in Music Theory at the University of Michigan where he is pursuing a doctoral degree in Composition and a Graduate Certificate in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies. He holds a master’s degree in composition from The University of Texas at Austin a bachelor’s degree in composition from University of Oregon.

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Photography by Chris O'Brien