Meet the Musicians

Luke Bakken

Bassoon & Contrabassoon

Luke Bakken

biography

Luke Bakken currently serves as second bassoon and contrabassoon with the Spokane Symphony. He holds a Bachelor's degree in music from the Eastman School of Music and a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the University of Rochester.

His teachers include Per Hannevold, Principal Bassoon of the Bergen Philharmonic, Nancy Goeres, Principal Bassoon of the Pittsburgh Symphony and Steven Paulson, Principal Bassoon of the San Francisco Symphony. He began his studies in Spokane with Gary Plowman and Dr. Wendal Jones.

Luke performed with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and at the 1998 New York String Orchestra Seminar, both in Carnegie Hall. He held the contrabassoon fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival from 1996 until 1999. In July 2010, he performed as contrabassoon soloist with the WDR Rundfunkorchester in Cologne, Germany. He has been a regular performer in the Northwest Bach Festival, Royal Fireworks Concert and Mostly Mozart summer concerts. He has performed on several Hollywood movie soundtracks including The Grudge and Drag Me To Hell.

Luke joined Pivotal Software in June of 2017 as a member of the core engineering team for RabbitMQ, which is the most popular open-source messaging software around. When he's not working his day job or performing, he enjoys trail running, rock climbing, mountaineering and backpacking. He is married to violinist Margaret Bowers who joins him on adventures along with their dog, Nelson.

About Luke Bakken:

When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? 

I grew up listening to a wide variety of music thanks to my mother, ranging from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Police and many other rock groups to classics like Tchaikovsky, Grieg and Mendelssohn. Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony was one of my favorites growing up. I remember attending Spokane Symphony concerts as a junior-high school student and knew then I wanted to play in an orchestra as part of my career. I began playing clarinet in 5th grade, added saxophone in jazz band when in junior high, and switched to bassoon in 8th grade when my parents offered to pay for lessons on any instrument I chose (as long as I practiced, of course). I have been fortunate to have had a huge amount of support from my immediate and extended family in my endeavor to become a professional bassoonist and they continue to be my number 1 fans. 

What is the make and approximate year of your instruments? 

The Eastman School of Music purchased Heckel bassoon #6894 in 1929 straight from the factory in Germany. I liberated the bassoon from the hands of the woodwind tech students in 1998 and had it restored to modern standards by legendary repairman Jim Laslie. I purchased my contrabassoon in 2006 from Guntram Wolf Holzblasinstrumente in Kronach, Germany. "Hagrid" is not a regular contrabassoon — it is Guntram's total redesign he calls a "contraforte" and in my opinion (and the opinion of the SSO bass section!) superior in every way when compared to a normal contrabassoon. 

What would you say are your career highlights? 

Accompanying Ewa Podles onstage at Carnegie Hall. Performing as soloist with the WDR Radio Orchestra in 2010. Mahler's Sixth Symphony with Fabio Mechetti conducting — you could have heard a pin drop at the end of the first movement. Opening night at the Fox. Most recently, performing "St John Passion" with the Gonzaga Choir.

 What would you be if you were not a musician? 

I would be a software engineer — which is what I do as my day job.

<May 2019>
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