Spotlight on...Adam MacKenzie

Posted on 15th Nov 2022 14:55:51 by Admin

Joining us for the November concert as our featured soloist is the wonderful Adam MacKenzie, Principal Bassoonist and Head of Instrumental Learning at Opera North. Here we’ll share a little about his personal musical journey, as we look forward to welcoming him to the stage at the City Hall to launch our 2022/23 season.


Adam recalls first discovering his love of classical music aged eleven when he unearthed one of his father’s Mahler CDs. Growing up in Tain, a small town in the Highlands, there were not many opportunities to attend classical music concerts. However, undaunted by this, and inspired to take up an instrument, Adam started with the clarinet (thanks to the free music lessons available in his local secondary schools) but, by his own admission, he was “awful.” His teachers clearly agreed but could see there was a real talent there and he was guided, gently but firmly, towards the bassoon and the rest is history. He made rapid progress, joining his school orchestra and subsequently the Highland Regional Youth Orchestra, where he thrived as a young musician.

After leaving school, Adam moved to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2004, before going on to the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala, Milan, in 2005, and then to study privately with Dag Jensen in Hanover. Although his musical home now lies in opera, during his early career as a freelance performer, Adam mostly worked with in an orchestral setting, with both symphony and chamber ensembles, which is where his love of chamber music took root.

He was a member of the New London Chamber Ensemble and is still an active member of Chamber Domaine, during which time he performed Rossini’s Giovanna d’Arco for an installation piece by Anish Kapoor – just one of many exciting performances in an innovative and diverse portfolio. Adam will release the premier recording of Capriccio for bassoon and strings by Brian Elias early next year, an exciting project with Chamber Domaine. Adam has been a guest player for a wide range of orchestras across his career, from the London Symphony Orchestra to the Heritage Orchestra (with whom he played, among other things, reimagined Ibiza classics!) That is, he observes, one of the benefits of being able to experiment artistically as a freelancer.

Asked about his forthcoming performance of Rossini’s Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra with Hull Philharmonic Orchestra, Adam said:

Ever since Sergio Azzolini recorded the Rossini I’ve been captivated by this piece. It’s mix of virtuosity and operatic drama is a rare quality. The second movement, in particular, is virtually an aria. The bassoon has such a vocal quality; it’s perfect writing for the instrument.

For more insights into Adam’s musical career and to hear about his passion for bringing music to communities who otherwise struggle for access to the arts, do listen to this fantastic podcast by Opera North.

But most importantly, come along to hear him play – live and in person! - on Saturday 26th November. You can book your tickets here.