“One of the best bassoonists of her generation”
- Pascal Gallois, conductor and bassoonist, France
"Very beautiful playing and stunning sound"
- Georg Gratzer, multi-woodwind instrumentalist, Austria
Jo Anne Sukumaran is an independent musician and educator based in Singapore. Happily going outside the traditional concert hall, she brings an unconventional and refreshing approach to classical music making. Curious and adventurous, her playful approach to the bassoon belies a sharp technical ability that has built her reputation for bringing to life a diverse range of styles. Her debut music album “The Night Garden” recently released in 2019 paid homage to her classical training and Asian roots. With an ear for unusual sounds and collaborators, she often dreams up eclectic and original programmes filled with colours, textures, flavours and senses to serve up a fusion of classical, contemporary and cross-cultural works, delighting audiences. She runs a successful series of artist interviews on a podcast, called “Legends of Reed”, to demystify double reed instruments and highlight top double reed musicians.
Her sights were originally set on the cello as a young teen, until an audition for the Singapore Youth Orchestra changed her life. The conductor directed her to the bassoon instead. Jo Anne describes her relationship with the bassoon: “it took me by surprise; I did not choose my instrument; the instrument chose me. It became my voice.” She studied bassoon at the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland with Gabor Meszaros. She continued developing her playing style and technical prowess through masterclasses that would prove decisive. In 2017, following Bram van Sambeek’s endorsement and guidance, she embarked on a solo and chamber path, which culminated in realising her ambition of recording a solo album. The Night Garden is her first presentation as a solo artiste, taking shape as a musical journey through a metaphorical garden that creates a safe space for the soul and mind.
She has recently performed as a soloist and chamber musician at major Singapore concert venues like the Esplanade Recital Studio and at the Victoria Concert Hall. With an ear for unusual partners for her bassoon, recent collaborations have included eclectic duos and mixed ensembles with the harp, percussion, piano, and the classical and electric guitars. Her personal philosophy towards programming she feels are akin to a chef dreaming up a combination of colours, flavours and senses: "Programming a concert is like creating a menu for a memorable meal. I love exploring a theme from different angles and pairing composers and instruments to end up with the ideal experience in terms of colours, textures and moods." She commissioned Canadian composer Gabo Champagne to write a special multi-disciplinary piece Ten Days at a Traffic Lightand was premiered on 20 Oct 2019 at her album launch concert. Curious about her Indian heritage, Jo Anne has explored Indian classical music, studying Indian rhythm (Konnakol) and incorporates improvisation into her performances and recordings.
She has previously coached many secondary and pre-college band students for Singapore Youth Festival Band competitions, auditions and concerts. In addition to her Adjunct lecturing at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, she is also currently an Adjunct Lecturer at University at Buffalo Singapore.
Jo Anne has always felt passionately about using her music to promote the social causes she cares about. In 2012, she supported the project, Impossible Orchestra (Melbourne), which raised awareness for unpaid carers in Australia. Invited by conductor Brett Kelly, she performed pro-bono alongside Australian musicians and was filmed in a documentary directed by Aaron Wilson. She also supported the Save the Bassoon campaign finale concert (Amsterdam 2016). She was invited to perform alongside Dutch musicians on a Dutch TV show NPO, “Holland Festival 2016”, of an excerpt of "Grand Subphonia” composed by Merlijn Twaalfhoven.
Dr. Gerber-ten Bosch Foundation
The National Arts Council of Singapore
The Arts Fund, Singapore
Michelle & Richard Chen, in association with The Chenter Foundation & Licha Stelaus Productions
The Banff Centre – Lucy & Stephen Maxym Endowment
Updated 20 Sept 2020