BIOS

Meet The Artists

 

Get to know the performers and educators that proudly play on Fox Products instruments.

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William Short

William Short was appointed Principal Bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2012. He previously served in the same capacity with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and has also performed with the Houston and Detroit Symphonies and the Philadelphia Orchestra. William has performed as soloist with the Vermont and Delaware Symphonies, the New York Classical Players, and the Strings Festival Orchestra. He is a founding member of the Gotham Wind Quintet and is a regular performer with Camerata Pacifica and Dolce Suono chamber music series.

A dedicated teacher, William serves on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Temple University, and is a Valade Fellow at Interlochen Arts Camp. In addition, he is a Visiting Faculty member at The Tianjin Juilliard School and has held visiting guest positions at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has presented classes at colleges and conservatories around the world and at conferences of the International Double Reed Society, for which he served as a board member from 2017-2021.

William has performed and taught at the Lake Champlain, Lake Tahoe, Mostly Mozart, Stellenbosch (South Africa), Strings, and Twickenham Festivals. An occasional arranger, editor, and composer, his works have been published by the Theodore Presser Company and TrevCo-Varner Music.

Committed to forging connections between audiences and performers, William’s articles on the subject have been lauded not only by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, but also by noted arts consultant Drew McManus and prolific cultural commentator Norman Lebrecht.

William received his Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Daniel Matsukawa and Bernard Garfield, and his Master of Music at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he studied with Benjamin Kamins. He attended festivals including the Music Academy of the West, Pacific Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and the Verbier Festival. Additional major teachers have included Jeanine Attaway, Kristin Wolfe Jensen, and William Lewis. A Fox Artist, William plays on a Model 750, which he is proud to have helped develop.

Fun Facts: Billy is a proud cat dad of Wotan, (nicknamed “TonTon”), named for the king of the gods in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. If he could, Billy would have an IV of pizza directly into his arm. (Before you ask, his favorite pizza in New York is Prince Street Pizza. Order the pepperoni square!)

Instrument: Fox Model 750

For more information on William Short, visit www.shortbassoon.com

About the Artist's Instrument

Playing at the Met requires the flexibility to shift constantly between supporting and leading roles; I’m always looking for the opportunity to engage in a genuine musical conversation with the singers on stage. Being a strong presence in the orchestra necessitates the ability to play with both transparency and richness of sound.

Just as I need that flexibility, I also can’t do my job without an extremely even scale. As a principal bassoon, I spend most of my time in the tenor register, so I need it to be as stable as possible. After all, every ounce of energy that goes into manipulating the instrument takes away from endurance and musical range. And ideally, ease in the tenor register shouldn’t require a sharp low register!

On all of these counts and many more, the 750 has elevated my concept of what’s possible in a bassoon. Not only can I now make music more freely; at the end of a long show, it’s remarkable how human I feel. Put simply, in everything from the sound, to the flexibility, to the scale, to the keywork, the Model 750 makes it easier than ever to make music the way I want!

Fox Artist William Short

Principal Bassoon, The Metropolitan Opera

Features

  • Hand-selected and aged mountain maple body with bordeaux finish
  • Silver-plated keys, posts, bands, and boot cap
  • Long bell compact model
  • French bell ring (metal)
  • Lining in wing joint and small bore of the boot
  • Wood hand rest
  • Neck strap ring
  • Cork wrapped tenons
  • Balance hanger
  • Limited edition 75th Anniversary boot band engraving

    Keywork

    • Full German key system
    • Adjustable whisper key mechanism
    • Low profile whisper key lock
    • High E key
    • High D key
    • High A bridge to whisper key
    • Ring key for left hand third finger
    • Right hand E♭ trill with alternate C♯ position
    • Ergonomic right thumb keys
    • Right thumb A♭-B♭ trill
    • Rollers for left little finger E♭ and D♭
    • Rollers for left thumb whisper key and C♯
    • Rollers for left thumb low C and D
    • Rollers for right thumb B♭ and F♯
    • Ergonomic keys and rollers for right little finger F♯, F, and A♭
    • Adjustable A tone hole vent
    • Left little finger whisper key (French)
    • Right thumb whisper key

    Artist Keywork Q&A

    What do you like about your instrument?

    In a word? Everything! I think a universal truth about instrumentalists is that we’re looking for an instrument that makes it easier to sound the way we want to sound, because the easier the instrument makes things, the more consistently we can play and the more we can focus on what really matters, which is making music in the way we want to. Put simply, that’s what my 750 does—in everything from the sound, to the flexibility, to the voicing, to the keywork, it just makes it easier than I’ve ever experienced to sound how I want.

     

    Why or how did you choose the instrument that you play?

    When I choose an instrument, I’m looking first and foremost at the things that can’t be reliably changed: Do I like the sound? Is the sound flexible? Do I like the resistance, and is it even? Do I want the pitch to be voiced in ways that may contradict each other—for example, do I want the middle register flatter and the tenor register sharper (which is a goal that’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve)? If I don’t like the quality or flexibility of sound, or the resistance, or the pitch is a mess, it’s a deal breaker for me.

    When I sat down with the first five 750s to choose my “forever” bassoon, I was struck by the consistency with which they satisfied the aforementioned criteria. It wasn’t a question of weeding out bad instruments; rather, it was a matter of separating the great instruments from the very good instruments.

    As musicians, everything we choose, from instruments to bocals to reeds to musical choices, is a reflection of our musical values. The previously-mentioned criteria are reflective of my values because they allow me to make music with the most ease and flexibility. Put simply, the instrument I ultimately chose was the one that made my life easiest, and that choice has been reaffirmed every time I’ve played it since!

     

    Based on your job and playing style, what qualities do you need your instrument to have?

    First and foremost, I need a stable (meaning not overly flat) tenor register. As a principal bassoon, that’s where I spend the majority of my time, and every ounce of unnecessary energy that goes into controlling the instrument in that register takes away from my endurance and my musical flexibility.

    Even though my job is playing opera, and that requires a certain degree of flexibility (and, at times, subservience) to singers’ needs, the Met is still a 3,800-seat hall (!), and as such requires substantial presence and depth of sound if I want to be a strong presence in the orchestra (which I do!). Similarly, opera has such dramatic range that substantial flexibility of sound is an absolute necessity.

    All of the above is possible on a lot of instruments, but some require more work to achieve them than others. Above all, I’m looking for ease; if I’m the sixth hour of a Wagner opera, any excess energy I’ve been expending really starts to hurt. It’s remarkable how human I now feel at the end of long shows playing on my 750!

    Does the look of your instrument matter a lot to you? If so, what aesthetic things are important to you?

    Honestly, it’s far from the most important thing to me, although I do love the dark burgundy color of the 750s.

    I will say, though, that it’s still a feeling of magic to board a plane with the smaller case that the divided long joint allows, and whenever the MET Orchestra goes on tour, the organizers always breathe a sigh of relief when they see that there’s no ivory (nor anything that looks remotely like ivory) on my bell ring!

     

    What are some keywork options that you cannot live without? Why?

    There are a lot of keywork options that I feel strongly about, but in terms of what I can’t live without? Keys that are easy to find with the fingers, comfortable to transition from one to the next, and have a solid but not overly-heavy action. In this area, I’ve been amazed by the flexibility of the folks at Fox; their willingness to remake key castings on the 750, sometimes in multiple iterations, to find what really feels best under the fingers has been absolutely incredible.

    As much as I’d like to imagine that such small details as key shape and action don’t matter (or at least are things that we can get used to over time), my experience has consistently been that these little things really matter when it comes to playing as consistently and cleanly as possible!

     

    Which keywork option on your bassoon has helped your playing the most?

    It might seem silly, but I love having multiple whisper keys. The “French” (left hand pinky) whisper key is incredibly useful for leaps between the low register and the middle register. I’ve found that the fraction of a second that the bocal vent doesn’t have to open, as it does when shifting the left thumb, has a significant impact on my consistency when executing those leaps.

    Far less common, I think, is the right thumb whisper key, right above the Bb key—it’s fantastic for going back and forth between flick notes and the middle register (or any other transition that involves the left thumb moving off the whisper key and up to one of the other octave keys). Rather than having to swing the left thumb back and forth, we can often just use the right thumb whisper key, either held down or in alternation with the octave keys.

    And both keys are great for not having to use the left thumb whisper key on C# in the staff—a complication that adds significantly to the awkwardness of traveling over that note. (After all, C# is the reason so many of us use the whisper lock in Marriage of Figaro!)

     

    Is there a keywork option that you feel strongly about or often “soap box” about? Why?

    I’m so glad you asked! I am an avid believer in the wonders of the right hand E flat trill key. In my experience, a lot of people aren’t familiar with all the different uses it has:

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