The Estonian bassoonist, Martin Kuuskmann, graduated from Tallinn Music High School and received degrees at Manhattan School of Music and Yale University School of Music. His mentors include Stephen Maxym, Frank Morelli, Rufus Olivier, Vernon Read and Ilmar Aasmets.
Kuuskmann has appeared as soloist in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra series performing Luciano Berio’s Sequenza XII for bassoon solo, the Macao Orchestra, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Nordic Symphony Orchestra, Riga Sinfonietta, Absolute Ensemble, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of the Norrlandsoperan in Sweden, among many others, and in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln and Kennedy Center. Kuuskmann is a commanding force bent on redefining the bassoon as a top caliber solo instrument. His charismatic and entertaining performances throughout the world have earned him repute as one of the leading instrumentalists around. The New York Times praised Kuuskmann’s playing as “dynamic…amazing…gripping…”.
Martin Kuuskmann’s ambitions to explore contemporary music have led to the premieres of eight new bassoon concerti to date written exclusively for him by leading composers of our time such as Erkki-Sven Tüür, Eino Tamberg, Tõnu Kõrvits , Gregor Huebner, Christopher Theofanidis, Charles Coleman, Gene Pritsker and most recently David Chesky. Kuuskmann is currently working on new bassoon concerto with Swiss composer Daniel Schnyder (for 2010-2011 season) and a full concert length multi media project with a Brazilian composer, Miguel Kertsman. His collaboration with the jazz legend, John Patitucci, led to the creation of Caprice No. 1 for bassoon and strings by Patitucci which he has performed in several venues across the world. His work with composers Daniel Schnyder, Randall Woolf, Gene Pritsker, Matt Herskowitz, Robert Martin has produced an array of works from acoustic to amplified and electronically enhanced compositions. Kuuskmann’s rendition of Daniel Schnyder’s Bassoon Sonata (also for clarinet, oboe and soprano saxophone) was recently published by the Edition Kunzelmann.
A highly sought-after chamber musician, Martin Kuuskmann’s chamber music partners have included David Taylor, Kirill Gerstein, Robert Kulek, Kristjan Randalu, Gregor Huebner, Jan Bjoranger, Meta4 and Sirius String Quartets, Göran Söllscher, Maarika Järvi, Patrick Gallois, Paquito D’Rivera, among many other distinguished artists. Kuuskmann has been a guest at numerous international music festivals including Bremen, Hamburg, Kuhmo, Oulunsalo, Nargen, Menuhin Festival Gstaad, Umeå, Kristiansand, Banff and Hong Kong World Music Days. A founding member of the Grammy nominated Absolute Ensemble, Kuuskmann has been a featured soloist in Michael Daugherty’s virtuosic and madcap concerto, Dead Elvis, a work Kuuskmann has performed nearly 50 times around the world receiving wide critical acclaim.
Martin Kuuskmann has appeared as a solo principal bassoonist with the Seoul Philharmonic at the invitation of Myung-Whun Chung. He was the solo principal bassoonist of the Nordic Symphony Orchestra from 1998 to 2001. While living and freelancing in New York City he appeared regularly as principal bassoon with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Miss Saigon on Broadway, to name just a few. After moving to the Seattle area he continues to record on numerous motion picture soundtracks.
As a soloist, Martin Kuuskmann has recorded on Chesky Records, CCn’C and ERP recording labels. His world music album on Erdenklang Records, “The Path of Mantra”, combines solo bassoon with the music and chanting of the Tibetan monks. Kuuskmann’s solo performances have been broadcast on BBC, CBC, NPR (wnyc, wfmt, etc), Hong Kong Radio as well as on numerous European radio stations. In 2007 he received a Grammy Nomination for his recording of Chesky’s bassoon concerto. His recent solo album, “Nonstop”, with pianist Kristjan Randalu was released in March of 2010 on ERP label, and contains works by J.S. Bach, L. Berio, Pärt, Schnyder, Jobim, among others.
Martin Kuuskmann’s 2009-2010 season includes solo appearances in festivals and concert halls worldwide including Gaia Festival (Switzerland), Nargen Festival (Estonia), Victoria Summer Music Festival (Canada), radio broadcast recitals in Estonia, Switzerland and Chicago. His current season’s recital programs vary from J.S. Bach to Schumann and L. Berio, concertos by Christopher Theofanidis, Gene Pritsker, J.S. Bach Double Concerto BWV 1060. In the summer of 2010 Kuuskmann will be premiering the Elegies for solo bassoon and chamber choir by Tõnu Kõrvits (written especially for him) with the Bellingham Chamber Chorale in Washington.
As a highly in demand teacher, Martin Kuuskmann has and continues to give lectures and master-classes in major conservatories and universities in North-America and Europe. Kuuskmann is a member of a New York based new music ensemble Sequitur, and a former member of the New York Lyric Chamber Music Society, where he has premiered numerous solo chamber works and conducted educational projects. Kuuskmann is a faculty at the Manhattan School of Music Contemporary Performance Program. While not on his travels he enjoys teaching his private studio of students from his home in Washington state. Kuuskmann conducts master-classes and is the woodwind coach with the Baltic Youth Philharmonic at the Usedom Music Festival in Germany at the invitation of Kristjan Järvi.
Since 2008 Martin Kuuskmann has been playing on a Fox 601 Red Maple bassoon. His recent album “Nonstop” was recorded on a Heckel bassoon #4561. He plays and endorses Gumin reeds. He and his wife, Tiiu, are proud parents of three wonderful children.