Back to All Events

Men Who Don’t Bite & Friends Benefit Concert

  • First Church in Oberlin (map)

The bassoon quartet Men Who Don’t Bite will present a benefit concert for Family Promise of Lorain County at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, April 10, 2016, at the Meeting House of First Church Oberlin, UCC, at the corner of Main and Lorain Streets. The concert is free and open to the public. Donations to support Family Promise will be gratefully accepted.

Men Who Don’t Bite, whose tongue-in-cheek name refers to the way a bassoonist plays through the instrument’s double reed, comprises Oberlin Conservatory professor George Sakakeeny, Cleveland Orchestra members Jonathan Sherwin and Barrick Stees, and University of Kansas professor Eric Stomberg. The ensemble combines serious music skills and a light-hearted sense of humor to delight audiences of all ages and interests.

Concert highlights will include Peter Schikele’s Blue Set #2 for four bassoons and Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5. The musicians will play their own arrangement for soprano and eight bassoons of Villa-Lobos’ sublime work, originally scored for soprano and cello choir. Joining them will be Olivia Boen, a third-year voice major at Oberlin Conservatory, and bassoon students from Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland Institute of Music. Individual quartet members will also play works for bassoon with Oberlin faculty pianist James Howsmon.          


George Sakakeeny is Professor of Bassoon at the Oberlin Conservatory and is a Visiting Professor for Graduate Studies in Bassoon at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela. He has given numerous solo recitals and taught master classes at leading institutions in the U.S. and abroad such as the Paris Conservatory, Tchaikovsky National Music Academy (Kiev), Rice University, Tokyo University of the Fine Arts and the Juilliard School. He has performed longer teaching residencies at the Shanghai Conservatory and the Central Conservatory of Music in China, Seoul National University and the Conservatoire National Supèrieur de Musique et Danse of Lyon, France. Sakakeeny also serves in an ongoing capacity as “Guest professor of bassoon” for the Latin-American Bassoon Academy of El Sistema in Venezuela. His contributions include teaching master classes and lessons to Youth Orchestra members, leading wind sectionals and providing training to El Sistema bassoon teachers. Sakakeeny has appeared as soloist with orchestras throughout the U.S., Europe and the Far East. Peter Schickele’s Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra 1998 and Alexander Blechinger’s Fagottkonzert 1997 were both written for him. In 1993 he gave the world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s Dead Elvis. He has been principal bassoon in a number of orchestras including the Singapore Symphony, New Japan Philharmonic, Opera Company of Boston, Handel and Haydn Society, Promusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus and CityMusic Cleveland. He has participated in numerous recordings, most notably the Villa-Lobos Duo for Oboe and Bassoon with oboist Alex Klein as part of the IDRS 25th Anniversary CD. Sakakeeny is also the author of Making Reeds Start to Finish, a resource book for bassoonists.

Jonathan Sherwin has been a member of The Cleveland Orchestra Bassoon Section since 1997. Previously, he had been a member of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, where he also served as the orchestra’s personnel manager. Mr. Sherwin studied with K. David Van Hoesen at the Eastman School of Music, and earned his Master’s Degree at Northwestern University, studying with Willard Elliot. Active as an educator, Mr. Sherwin has presented master classes at universities and summer music festivals throughout the United States. He serves on the faculties of Baldwin-Wallace University and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Barrick Stees is the Assistant Principal Bassoonist of The Cleveland Orchestra.  He teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Music.  Stees received a bachelor’s degree from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with K. David Van Hoesen.  He has recorded three solo compact discs: The Romantic Bassoon, Opera Transcriptions and Paraphrases, and Nostalgica. His website,, offers a wealth of information about his teaching, performances and reed-making.

Eric Stomberg maintains an active teaching and performing schedule with positions as Associate Professor of Bassoon at the University of Kansas, Instructor of Bassoon at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and Associate Director of Music at the Interlochen Arts Camp. Stomberg has been featured in numerous recordings with two additional releases in Spring 2013 (Jennifer Higdon’s chamber work, Dark Wood, and James Balentine’s double concerto, Dun Eideann Blogh). Stomberg is also active in professional societies, serving as secretary of the International Double Reed Society and Past-President of the Midwest Double Reed Society. Stomberg received the Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Kansas. His major teachers include William Winstead, Alan Hawkins and Gregg Randall.

James Howsmon, pianist, has collaborated in more than 1,000 recitals in North America, Europe, and Japan and has performed with principal players of every major American orchestra. In recent seasons, he has played in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. (at the Kennedy Center), Philadelphia, Dallas, Montreal, and Minneapolis. Highlights of recent seasons include performances of Stravinsky’s Les Noces with the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Pierre Boulez; an ongoing series of the complete Mozart sonatas for piano and violin with violinist Marilyn McDonald; and several performances of Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin with the prominent basso Robert Holl. He is a frequent performer on Oberlin College’s stages, having recently played the Poulenc Aubade with the Oberlin Wind Ensemble and Olivier Messiaen’s Couleurs de la Cité Celeste with the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble. Mr. Howsmon is Professor of Instrumental Accompanying at Oberlin, where he oversees the instrumental collaborative activities of the school’s 100 piano majors. He is also on the faculty of Credo, a summer chamber music program held at Oberlin College. From 1999 to 2006, Mr. Howsmon was on the piano faculty of the Brevard Music Center. He has given guest master classes in accompanying and chamber music at, among others, the Juilliard School, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Interlochen Arts Academy, Arizona State University, the University of Colorado, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Alabama.

Olivia Boen, soprano, is currently in her third year of undergraduate studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Daune Mahy. As an opera singer, she has performed such roles as Alcina in Oberlin Opera Theatre's production of Handel's Alcina, Norina in Oberlin-In-Italy’s production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. Equally at home performing contemporary music, Olivia has collaborated with composers Jesse Jones, Peter Kramer, and Shihui Yin. Recent performance highlights include concerts in Siena, Cortona, and Arezzo in Tuscany through the Oberlin-In-Italy program. Boen has participated in masterclasses by such renowned artists as Renée Fleming, Eric Owens, Nicole Cabell, and Enza Ferrari. Olivia has been selected for a prestigious position as one of Opera Theater of St. Louis’ Gerdine Young Artists and will begin her work with the company in April 2016. As a Chicago native, Boen had the distinct honor of performing the North American premiere of Jesse Jones' One Bright Morning with the Contemporary Music Ensemble on the Oberlin Conservatory tour to her hometown in January 2016.

Earlier Event: March 18
Pavilion Project
Later Event: July 9
Music For a Cause Benefit Concert