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Biography

Between commutes around southern California to work in humble places like classrooms and fancy places like Disney Hall or movie studios, bassoonist-composer John Steinmetz has became fascinated with music’s ability to reach across lines of difference and even animosity. He toured the two Irelands with Camerata Pacifica’s Irish Catholics and Protestants. He played Britten's War Requiem with American, German, and Japanese choirs for the Oregon Bach Festival’s World War II commemoration. He performed in Israel, Palestine, and Gaza, playing his own One and Many with the Apple Hill Chamber Players and guest Arab and Jewish musicians. He premiered his own bassoon concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony, exploring connections between humans and the rest of nature.

Some of John's compositions combine people who don’t normally perform together. On My Way paired the Keene Chamber Orchestra with 200 elementary school singers. Together premiered in Jordan, with the Amman Symphony Orchestra and sixty beginning string players from a conservatory, an elite private school, and a refugee camp. Some compositions have parts for the audience, and some confront real-world issues: War Scrap for piano trio and percussion is on the latest CD from Pacific Serenades, and Fourteen Prayers for trombone is on a new Navona disk. Recent commissions have come from Chamber Music Palisades, from a national consortium of oboists and bassoonists, and from another consortium of individuals, ensembles, orchestras, schools, and presenters.

John's love of laughter instigates comic pieces like Polarization Blues and The Monster that Devoured Cleveland, as well as satires like “Generic Resumé.” Last May he wrote and conducted a comic cantata to help celebrate conductor Helmuth Rilling’s 80th birthday. Sometimes John mixes serious with funny: Possessed for cellist/narrator is a comedy that ends pensively. He wrote the text for Tacet Art, Dave Riddles' book of cartoons of studio musicians, and also contributes articles for Chamber Music and other publications.

Education’s capacity to release potential and reveal innate competence has drawn John into education projects with computer scientists, education researchers, a record company, orchestras, arts organizations, schools, summer camps, and even a dentists’ organization. As part of Camerata Pacifica’s partnership with Cortines High School, John coaches groups from the student-organized Chamber Music Society. He teaches bassoon at UCLA and serves on the boards of Monday Evening Concerts and of Renaissance Arts Academy, a public charter school offering intensive arts training regardless of background or experience.

John has played bassoon with Camerata Pacifica since its first concert. He lives with his multitalented wife Kazi Pitelka in Altadena; they have two children. For more information, please visit www.johnsteinmetz.org

This biography was most recently edited by...
cameratapacifica - 20 Aug 2013
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