James Brewer plays second Bassoon with the OKCPHIL. He has a Bachelors in Music from UCO and a Masters in Music from Temple University in Philadelphia. He retired from teaching in Putnam City Schools in 2015 serving the last 17 years as Orchestra Director at Mayfield Middle School.
Originally hired by the Oklahoma Symphony while still a junior in college in 1969 at what is now UCO, he reminisced “The Orchestra was playing so many concerts for public school children back then that public school teachers who were in the orchestra had to take up to 20 sick days to play them. Recognizing the demand, the Ford Foundation gave us a grant that allowed the musicians to double those concerts for students, but musicians who were teachers had to make a choice between teaching and playing as a full time orchestra member. Since I was right out of college, I had never taught and chose the full-time orchestra job.” He continued, “When the transition to the OKCPHIL happened in the late 80’s, many of those musicians who weren’t from Oklahoma left the city, but since I was from Oklahoma I wanted to stay. I went back to school and I learned to play violin and cello so I could teach not only band but also teach strings. Who would have thought a bassoon player would be teaching strings? Music is an evolutionary process.”
Do you play a sport? In my spare time I enjoy playing tennis.
What do you like most about living in Oklahoma City? The cosmopolitan atmosphere without larger city traffic.