Feature Photos

Bassoonist Jacob Wellman has big dreams

By From page A1 | January 17, 2012

Oak Ridge senior Jacob Wellman hopes to professionally play bassoon. "I have no problem doing it for the rest of my life," the 17-year-old said. Village Life photo by Pat Dollins

“Sweet … but also somber,” 17-year-old bassoonist Jacob Wellman described his instrument as such after a moment of thought.

The Oak Ridge High School senior has found his passion with the instrument. He dreams of Julliard and a performance career — goals easily attainable by this talented musician.

Jacob was recently selected to perform with other students on the All-State Orchestra next month and with the Honor Orchestra of America in March — repeat honors for the young man who also recently made it to the semi-final round of the 2012 Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition. Jacob is also currently preparing for auditions with Julliard, Northwestern, USC and the The Colburn School Conservatory of Music.

“Everything makes sense when I’m playing for other people,” Jacob said.

“It’s something I just can’t see myself without,” he explained. “It’s my passion and I have no problem doing it for the rest of my life.”

Forget nerves. When Jacob prepares to take the stage he said he takes a few deep breaths to calm himself, not because he’s nervous but because he’s anxious to get out there and start playing the music.

Six years ago Jacob picked up a bassoon, saying he got interested in the instrument because he liked the look and sound. He studies with Karen Gale of Sacramento and practices an hour or two, three to four times a week. Jacob said he admires German bassoonist Klaus Thunemann and jazz bassoonist Paul Hanson from Berkeley, adding that jazz bassoon has really caught his interest but classical “is always fun.”

In addition to bassoon, Jacob also plays trombone, guitar, piano and ukulele.

Whatever Jacob plays, self-confessed musically challenged dad Bob Wellman said he and mom Kim Wellman are amazed.

“He has more talent than one can imagine,” Bob proudly said. “To hear that come out of your kid is just inspiring.”

In summer 2010 Jacob toured Europe with the acclaimed Sacramento Youth Symphony. Locally, he plays bassoon in a jazz combo he and a few friends created and plays the trombone in the Oak Ridge Jazz Ensemble, which will perform at the Folsom Jazz Festival on Jan. 28.

Jacob said Oak Ridge’s music program “expanded my horizons a lot. Without that program I would have never discovered my love for jazz.”

With high school almost behind him, Jacob said he’s “getting there” as far as college audition preparation goes. While he’d be happy at any of the schools he’s selected there’s a clear front-runner. “If I got into Julliard I would go hands down.”

Noel Stack


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