School of Music Welcomes Fei Xie, Principal Bassoonist of the Minnesota Orchestra

Xie to Lead Bassoon Studio With Fellow Minnesota Orchestra Bassoonist Norbert Nielubowski Following the Retirement of John Miller Jr.
Minnesota Orchestra Bassoonist Fei Xie

The School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of Minnesota Orchestra Principal Bassoonist Fei Xie to the artistic faculty. “We are delighted that Mr. Xie is joining the School of Music community, said Gwendolyn Freed, Interim Director of the School of Music. "He is a truly remarkable artist."

Xie will join fellow Minnesota Orchestra bassoonist and long-time School of Music instructor, Norbert Nielubowski, to lead the bassoon studio at the University of Minnesota. Xie’s appointment follows the retirement of previous instructor and renowned musician, John Miller Jr. 

Xie joined the Minnesota Orchestra as Principal Bassoon at the beginning of the 2017-18 season after serving as principal bassoonist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble he first joined as second bassoonist in 2008. When he won the principal role in 2012, Xie became the first Chinese-born bassoonist to hold such a position in a major American symphony orchestra. He was previously a member of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, principal bassoonist of the Mansfield Symphony in Ohio, and has appeared as guest principal bassoonist with orchestras such as the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, Houston Symphony and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

Xie has appeared as a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Festival Mozaic Orchestra, and SiChuan Conservatory Symphony Orchestra in China. He has received high praise from critics from the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Star Tribune. His performance of the Mozart Bassoon Concerto with the Minnesota Orchestra and Music Director Osmo Vänskä was streamed live online and broadcast on Twin Cities stations. Xie has performed at many summer festivals including Festival Mozaic, Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Tanglewood Music Center, National Repertory Orchestra, and Music Academy of the West. In 2010, he was a finalist and prize-winner at the International Double Reed Society’s Gillet-Fox competition, where he was the only American bassoonist chosen for the final round.

An avid educator, Xie has taught masterclasses at conservatories and festivals throughout the U.S., China, and Brazil. He has recently served on the faculty at the University of Maryland and was the bassoon coach for the inaugural season of the NYO-China (National Youth Orchestra of China). He also served as a faculty member at Campos do Jordão International Music Festival in Brazil for two seasons. While in Brazil, Xie performed Kalevi Aho’s Quintet for Bassoon and Strings with the award-winning Quarteto Radamés Gnattali.

Recently, Xie recorded the Quintet for Bassoon and Strings by composer Michael Fine for Fine for Five, a CD recording project of newly-composed chamber music for winds and string quartets. He can also be heard on recent Minnesota Orchestra recordings of Mahler Symphonies.

A native of China, Xie comes from a musical family. His parents and uncle are renowned Peking Opera musicians. He started piano lessons at age three and began bassoon studies when he was 13. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory and a master’s degree from Rice University. His primary teachers and influences are George Sakakeeny and Benjamin Kamins, who was associate principal bassoon of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1972 to 1981.

The School of Music thanks John Miller Jr. for his many years of service to the University. His leadership of the bassoon studio helped to develop the careers of many successful alumni. “We want to thank John for his extraordinary dedication to the School,” said Interim Director Freed.  “We wish him all the very best in his retirement. 

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