Kristen Sonneborn, Principal Bassoon
John and Joanne Fisher Chair
Kristen Sonneborn was the assistant principal bassoon with both the San Antonio and Florida symphony orchestras prior to joining the Naples Philharmonic. She holds a Bachelor of Music in performance from Saint Olaf College, where her teacher was Charles Ullery of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. She earned her Master of Music in performance from the University of Southern California, where she studied with renowned bassoonist and teacher Norman Herzberg. While in Los Angeles, Kristen was an active freelance musician in area orchestras and studios, playing for various composers, including Lalo Schifrin, Henry Mancini and John Williams.
In 1990 and 1991, Kristen was a fellowship recipient to the Tanglewood Music Center, where she performed under Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein. As a soloist, she has performed concerti by Hummel, Hindemith, Lars-Erik Larsson, Mozart, Vanhal and Vivaldi. In 1986, Kristen performed Weber’s Andante and Hungarian Rondo live on Austrian National Radio from Salzburg.
Kristen is also a talented arranger and soloist. After receiving the generous Dougherty Artistic Project Grant from the Naples Philharmonic, Kristen was able to self-publish the first New Performance Edition of the bassoon concerto by Luigi Gatti, arranged for bassoon and piano. She performed this composition with the Naples Philharmonic in February of 2020 as the featured soloist.
Kristen is currently on the faculty of the Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University. This July marks her 28th season as a member of the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra in Jackson, Wyoming. She has also performed with the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego and the Hot Springs Music Festival in Arkansas, and she is featured with Detroit Symphony Orchestra Principal Bassoon Robert Williams on his album featuring the music of Julius Weissenborn. Kristen served on the executive board of the International Double Reed Society from 2010 to 2014. She has been a member of the Naples Philharmonic since 1995.
I am from Northfield, Minnesota. I received my Bachelor of Music in performance from St. Olaf College and my Master of Music in performance from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. After freelancing around the Los Angeles area for a couple of years, I won a job with the Florida Symphony Orchestra in Orlando, and then I played with the San Antonio Symphony for three years before winning my job here in 1995.
What has been your most memorable moment with the orchestra?
I have many memorable moments. One infamous moment was when our former pops conductor wanted pyrotechnics for the Y2K New Year’s concert and set the gold banners decorating the stage on fire during rehearsal.
What inspired you to become a musician?
I started playing piano by ear when I was 3. I have always loved music, and my parents were very supportive. I have several musicians in my family. Most of all, my teachers inspired me and guided me in the right direction.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
I love my colleagues, especially in the woodwind section.
What’s challenging about playing your instrument?
Without a doubt, the reeds.
What are your favorite compositions?
Mahler Symphony No. 3 and anything by Stravinsky.
What have you been listening to recently?
Recordings made by my former teachers.
Are there other musicians in your immediate family?
What do you like to do outside of work?
I volunteer at my son’s school, at my church and for various local charities. I enjoy reading with my book club and watching movies. I also like to travel.