Michael Sweeney

Principal Bassoon

Michael Sweeney

Michael Sweeney has served as Principal Bassoon of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 1989. Over the years, critics have frequently praised his orchestral solos, characterizing them as “soulful” and “imaginative” (The Globe and Mail), and “superb” and “gorgeous” (National Post).

As a soloist, Mr. Sweeney is keenly interested in baroque, classical, and postmodern works. In 2003, he commissioned and premièred three works for bassoon and ensemble—including two from Canadian composers Marjan Mozetich and Rodney Sharman—and subsequently recorded them along with Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto with The Seiler Strings. The CD, entitled mozart and well beyond, was praised by Gramophone magazine for its “vitality” and sensitivity, and in particular for Michael’s “excellent interpretation” of Mozart’s Concerto through which he “glides…with stunning suppleness.”

As a chamber musician, Michael Sweeney has collaborated with pianists Emanuel Ax, Ingrid Fliter, Angela Hewitt, James Parker, and Patricia Parr, and with the Amici Chamber Ensemble, Via Salzburg, and the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. He was a founding member of Caliban (a quartet of bassoonists) and can be heard on their highly acclaimed début CD, Bassoonatics!

In addition to performing, Mr. Sweeney is also interested in music history, especially research on Mozart’s music and life. He is currently at work on a commentary which will accompany his critical/performing edition of Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto. He has given lectures/demonstrations of Mozart’s concerto in Canada and the US in academic and festival settings.

Prior to joining the TSO, Mr. Sweeney attended state universities in California and New York, the Yale School of Music, and the University of Southern California, studying bassoon with Kay Brightman, Arthur Weisberg, and Norman Herzberg. He also studied musicianship with Joan Panetti at Yale. Between the completion of his formal education and joining the TSO, he was Principal Bassoon of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra for two seasons.

Michael Sweeney is married to Peter Eliot Weiss, who is a playwright.

Current as of April 2018


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