Andy Watts began his music career playing medieval and renaissance instruments and clarinet at primary school in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, then took up the modern bassoon at the age of sixteen. He studied history and music at Cambridge University, bassoon at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and baroque bassoon at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. Starting his professional career as a costumed minstrel in a Mayfair restaurant, recorder teacher for the ILEA and musical director of a touring theatre company (The Medieval Players) he went on to play with a number of renaissance music ensembles and with most of London’s period instrument orchestras. He has also played for Nikolaus Harnoncourt with Concentus Musicus in Vienna.
At around the same time as he joined the OAE, Andy formed ‘The Carnival Band’ playing an idiosyncratic blend of folk, world and early music. He is a keen music educator working with children and adults of all ages, and is teaches at the Royal Academy of Music and Birmingham Conservatoire.
Here’s a bit about Andy’s bassoon:
How many instruments do you own?
About 50 of which 10 are bassoons.
Which one do you play most?
My classical bassoon.
How old is it?
About 30 years old.
Who was it made by?
Peter de Koningh.
What are the main differences between your ‘period’ instrument and a modern version?
The period instruments are generally lighter in sound and more flexible.
When did you start learning?
I started the recorder when I was 6, the modern bassoon when I was 16 and the baroque bassoon in my twenties.
What inspired you to take up a period instrument?
My primary school teacher, inspired by David Munrow, had us playing renaissance instruments so I grew up with early music.
How would you describe the relationship between you and your instrument?
We’re both grumpy old men with a soft centre.
Who are your musical heroes?
Today Haydn, but I’m fickle!
Sum up your instrument in one word.