The Faculty Artist Series Presents: George Sakakeeny, Bassoon

January 15, 2020

More Information:
For Media Inquiries: Katey Padden (Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator), (585) 274-1052,

The Faculty Artist Series presents George Sakakeeny, Professor of Bassoon, on Wednesday, January 29th at 7:30 p.m. in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music. Sakakeeny will be joined by pianist Chiao-Wen Cheng, oboist Erik Behr, clarinetist Michael Wayne, Flutist Bonita Boyd, and others in the performance of works by Mendelssohn, Telemann, Faure, Brahms, Mozart, and Poulenc.

George Sakakeeny (ESM BM ’78) has appeared as a soloist with orchestras throughout North and South America, Europe, and the Far East, including engagements in Vienna at the historic Musikverein, at Severance Hall with members of the Cleveland Orchestra, and a nationally televised concert in Japan under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. Three major works for bassoon and orchestra have been commissioned for him: Libby Larsen’s full moon in the city (2013), Peter Schickele’s Bassoon Concerto (1998), and Viennese composer Alexander Blechinger’s Faggottkonzert (1997).

Professor Sakakeeny served on the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory for 28 years. In addition, for seven years he was visiting professor for graduate studies at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela, and holds the honorary title of “Guest Professor of the Central Conservatory of Music.” Each summer he serves as principal bassoonist and faculty of the Eastern Music Festival, and as a faculty member at the Round Top Festival Institute.

Sakakeeny formerly held principal bassoon positions of the New Japan Philharmonic, Handel & Haydn Society of Boston, Opera Company of Boston, Boston Musica Viva, Promusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, and CityMusic Cleveland. He has also served as principal bassoonist of the Grand Teton Music Festival, New Hampshire Music Festival, and Peninsula Festival, and has performed extensively with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops orchestras.

Sakakeeny has given numerous solo recitals and taught master classes at leading institutions such as the Paris Conservatory, the Juilliard School, Tchaikovsky National Music Academy in Kiev, Rice University, and the Tokyo University of the Fine Arts. He has served in longer-term teaching residencies at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Seoul National University, the Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique et Danse in Lyon, France, and the New World Symphony. He is the author of the i-book Making Reeds Start to Finish with George Sakakeeny.

Taiwanese pianist Chiao-Wen Cheng has performed as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician throughout the United States and Asia. Her solo engagements include the Fort Worth Symphony, Greece Symphony, and Taiwan Shin-Min Orchestra. Cheng has won numerous piano competitions and awards, including First Prizes at the Schubert Club Competition (2012); the Piano Texas International Academy and Festival Concerto Competition (2010); the Excellence in Accompanying Award at the Eastman School of Music (2010); and the Clara Ascherfeld Award in Excellence in Accompanying at Peabody Institute (2009).

A vibrant and dedicated chamber musician, Cheng has become a sought after collaborative partner. She performs with the Argos Trio and has appeared numerous times on the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester concert series. A particularly rewarding facet of her career has involved chamber music concerts with musicians from all of the world, including Juliana Athayde (concertmaster, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra); Ian Bousfield (former principal trombone, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra); Astrid Schween (cellist, Juilliard Strong Quartet); and Ko-ichiro Yamamoto (principal trombone, Seattle Symphony Orchestra). Cheng has also enjoyed presenting solo piano recitals in major venues around the world.

Cheng began piano lessons with her aunt at the age of four. She completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music as a student of Frank Weinstock, where she received a Van Cliburn Scholarship. She completed her master’s degree at Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University as a student of Benjamin Pasternack, where she received a full scholarship. Cheng holds a doctoral degree from the Eastman School of Music, where she was a student and teaching assistant of Barry Snyder. At Eastman, Cheng was also the recipient of a graduate assistantship as a collaborative pianist and large ensemble pianist. Cheng is an Assistant Professor of Accompanying at the Eastman School of Music and a Piano Instructor at Eastman Community Music School.

Principal Oboe of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra since 2007, Erik Behr was previously Principal Oboe of the Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet. Behr has performed as guest principal with the San Francisco Symphony, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the Nashville Symphony, and as a guest with the Seattle and Houston symphonies. During the summer he performs with his wife, RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde, at the Sun Valley Summer Symphony as principal oboe and at the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra. Other festival appearances include the Edinburgh International, Casals, and Spoleto festivals.

In 2018 he performed the world premiere of Allen Shawn’s oboe concerto, commissioned for Behr and the RPO. In addition to numerous other concerto appearances with the RPO and Houston Ballet, Behr has recorded Honegger’sConcerto da Camera with the RTV Slovenia Orchestra. Together with his wife, he is Artistic Director of the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester and in 2017 he performed the world premiere of 2017 Guggenheim Fellow Adam Roberts’ oboe quartet, commissioned for Behr and SCMR. He has given chamber recitals nationally and internationally for venues including the Edinburgh International Festival, Mainly Mozart Festival, Kilkenny Festival, and Maribor Festival. His playing has been praised by critics as “bold and graceful” (Washington Post), “immaculate” (Sunday Tribune), singled out for “tremendous musicianship and sense of style” (Irish Examiner), and for “ease and eloquence” (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle).

Currently Adjunct Professor at Roberts Wesleyan College, he also been a guest oboe teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Rice University, and the National Orchestral Institute. Behr has served on the oboe faculty at the University of Houston and was a visiting lecturer at Cornell University. He received a B.M. (cum laude) at Arizona State University, M.M. from Temple University, and D.M.A. from Rice University. His principal teachers include Robert Atherholt, Richard Woodhams, and Martin Schuring.

Clarinetist Michael Wayne has been a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops clarinet section since 2008. Prior to joining the BSO, Mr. Wayne was Principal Clarinet of the Kansas City Symphony and a member of the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra. He is on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, Tanglewood Music Center, and has been a visiting professor at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Annual teaching engagements include the New World Symphony and Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI). Masterclass appearances include the University of Southern California, Manhattan School of Music, University of Michigan, University of Southern California, and the Royal Danish Academy of Music.

Mr. Wayne made his Carnegie Hall solo debut with the world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s clarinet concerto, Brooklyn Bridge, and subsequently recorded it for Equilibrium Records. Other recording projects include the multi-Grammy Award winning Shostakovich symphony cycle with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, recorded on Deutsche Grammophon. Mr. Wayne can be seen in numerous PBS Great Performances specials with the Boston Symphony and Pops, recorded at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood. Festival performances include Verbier, Music Academy of the West, National Orchestral Institute, Colorado Music Festival, and Hot Springs Music Festival. Mr. Wayne has been the recipient of the Paul Boylan Award (University of Michigan), Whitaker Advanced Study Grant (Music Academy of the West), Earl V. Moore Award (University of Michigan), and a Fine Arts Award (Interlochen). Mr. Wayne holds degrees from the Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Michigan, where his principal teachers were Richard Hawkins and Fred Ormand.

Flutist Bonita Boyd has been a Fulbright Grant recipient, and has been President of the National Flute Association, a 5000-member international organization of flutists from around the world.  She has been an artist-faculty member of the Eastman School of Music since her appointment in1976. Her recording, Flute Music of Les Six, was honored by Stereo Review in its Record of the Year Awards, and her Paganini Caprices CD was on the final ballot for a Grammy nomination. 

Bonita has made radio recordings with the Bavarian Rundfunk, Oslo, West Berlin, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Hague, Brussels, Australian Broadcasting, and Canadian Broadcasting networks.  Among her television specials have been two PBS Television Specials as soloist, Tokyo recital debut televised on Japanese Cable Television, Santa Domingo Symphony soloist debut on Latin American National Television, and a solo debut with the Polish Radio Orchestra on live Polish National Television. Ms. Boyd has recently been named a Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the National Flute Association, joining the ranks of such legendary flutists as James Galway and Julius Baker. Bonita has also been awarded the Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Eastman School of Music, and her students occupy major orchestral and teaching posts throughout the world. 

The Faculty Artist Series is generously supported by Patricia Ward-Baker.

Tickets for Eastman’s Faculty Artist Series are $10 for the general public and free to current Season Subscribers and UR ID holders. Tickets can be purchased at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, 433 Eastman Main Street, 9:30AM – 2:30PM., Monday-Friday; by phone (585) 274-3000; or online at


About Eastman School of Music:

The Eastman School of Music was founded in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman (1854-1932), founder of Eastman Kodak Company. It was the first professional school of the University of Rochester. Mr. Eastman’s dream was that his school would provide a broad education in the liberal arts as well as superb musical training. The current dean is Jamal J. Rossi, appointed in 2014.

More than 900 students are enrolled in the Collegiate Division of the Eastman School of Music—about 500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. They come from almost every state, and approximately 23 percent are from other countries. They are taught by a faculty comprised of more than 130 highly regarded performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Emmy Winners, Guggenheim Fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, published authors, recording artists, and acclaimed musicians who have performed in the world’s greatest concert halls. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 900 concerts to the Rochester community.