You never know what's going to capture someone's imagination.
In the late 1990s, a man from Las Vegas named Mark Trinko developed a strange obsession with the contrabassoon. He wasn't a bassoonist or even a musician; he was a member of the Las Vegas Lions Club, but a huge fan of the contrabassoon. He decided that what Las Vegas, no, what America needed was an International Contrabassoon Festival.
The world of the contrabassoon player is quite small, with maybe 100 professional players in the country and an odd assortment of amateurs. The first festival was held in 1996, and attracted about a dozen players; percentage-wise, not too bad.
The following year, Mr. Trinko decided the festival should involve a competition, with the competitors performing a piece commissioned especially for this festival. That work was "In a Deep Funk", by Daniel Dorff. There were only a handful of competitors (the piece being rather difficult for amateurs), and I couldn't tell you who won. Anyway, the piece is quickly becoming a fixture in the solo contrabassoon repertoire (yeah, ok - how many works for solo contrabassoon are there anyway?)
There is not much need to go into a deep description of the work; it's a set of movements based on popular dances of the 60s and 70s. The titles of the movements speak for themselves: Hustle Misterioso, Twist Variations, and Funk Scherzo (a fourth movement, Bear Hug, will be performed some other time). It's a toe-tapper, cheerful, and due to the nature of the contrabassoon, a little gruesome.
This work was
commissioned by the Las Vegas Sundowners Lions Club for the 1998 International
Contrabassoon Festival, although it was premiered by Roger Soren of the Louisville
Symphony in 1997 at the International Double Reed Society Convention, held
at Northwestern University.