Stephen Paulson joined the San Francisco Symphony as Principal Bassoon in 1977. Also a conductor, he has served as Music Director of Symphony Parnassus since 1998. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he studied bassoon with K. David Van Hoesen and Mordechai Rechtman, and composition with Samuel Adler. He performed with the Rochester Philharmonic for four seasons, including as principal bassoonist from 1968 to 1970, and from 1970 to 1977 he served as co-principal bassoonist of the Pittsburgh Symphony. He has appeared as soloist in his own Bassoon Concerto with the Rochester Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Mr. Paulson has appeared numerous times as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony and has given master classes at colleges worldwide, including the Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, and the Shanghai Conservatory. He has performed and taught at the Aspen Music Festival, New World Symphony, Grand Teton Music Festival, and the Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific. In April 2009, he assisted Michael Tilson Thomas as woodwind coach and performer in the YouTube Orchestra Summit at Carnegie Hall. In 1995, he performed with the World Orchestra for Peace in Geneva, Switzerland, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. Mr. Paulson is longtime Professor of Bassoon at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has also served as a mentor and workshop leader for the SFS Community of Music Makers Program.
Profiled in our Meet the SFS Musicians series, Paulson shares his love for music, his family, and San Francisco.
SFS member since: 1983
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Music schools you attended: Indiana University, the Juilliard School
Began playing music: At age 4
Musical inspirations: My two great teachers Leonard Sharrow and Stephen Maxym
If I were not a professional musician, I might be an: Actor or maître d’hotel
Favorite composers: Bach, Stravinsky, Ravel, Mozart
Favorite works featuring my instrument: Rimsky-Korsakov, Sheherezade; Ravel, Alborada del gracioso; all the late Mozart piano concertos
When I’m not working, I enjoy: Gardening, cooking and baking
Recent reading: Mademoiselle: Conversations with Nadia Boulanger, by Bruno Monsaingeon; The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
On my CD player/iPod: Monteverdi, Vespers; Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
Favorite things to do in the Bay Area: Bay Area Discovery Museum, Exploratorium, Dahlia Garden in Golden Gate Park
Plus: I’m continuing to commission new chamber music featuring the bassoon. I feel my greatest joys and greatest challenges come from being a single adoptive dad to my son Pablo. My “baby” is a kindergartner now!
Steven Dibner has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.
SFS member since: 1990
Hometown: Weyburn, Saskatchewan, CA
Music school you attended: Curtis Institute of Music
Began playing music: At age 6
Musical inspirations: Other kids and later mentors
If I were not a professional musician, I might be: In theatre one way or another
Favorite composers: Stravinsky, Bach, Adès, Barber
Favorite works featuring my instrument: Stravinsky, Rite of Spring; Barber, Knoxville, Summer 1915
When I’m not working, I enjoy: Family time, travel with family, golf, reading
Recent reading: Pnin, by Vladimir Nabokov; Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
On my CD player/iPod: Hip-hop, soul, rap, jazz
Favorite things to do in the Bay Area: Walk in Golden Gate Park (it’s across the street from my house!); Walk on the beach (it’s six blocks away); all things outdoors and enjoying our great city.
Rob Weir has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program. He is currently a member of the Coaching Team for the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Steve Braunstein has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.