Samuel Blair has held the position of utility bassoon and contrabassoon of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra since 2012. A native of the Dallas, TX area, he began playing the bassoon at the age of 11. His collegiate journey began just down the road at Southern Methodist University where he studied with the former principal bassoonist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Wilfred Roberts. After graduating summa cum laude in bassoon performance, Blair continued his education at the Yale School of Music, studying with the renowned pedagogue and performer, Frank Morelli. After receiving his MM in bassoon performance in 2009, he joined the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, FL to continue his education under Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas, as well as many of the world’s leading conductors and soloists. During his second season, he was a winner of the concerto competition and performed the Mozart Concerto for Bassoon with the orchestra, a highlight of his career.
Before his time in the D.C. area, Blair attended many summer music festivals, including the National Repertory Orchestra, Sarasota Music Festival, Roud Top Music Festival, and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. He then began his seven-year tenure with the prestigious Verbier Festival in Switzerland with Music Director Charles Dutoit. In his final year, he toured Switzerland with the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Joshua Bell.
The bassoon has taken Blair to 13 countries on five different continents. Two of his favorite trips include his extended trial for Co-Principal Bassoon with the Malaysian Philharmonic from 2009-10 and his participation in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra in Sydney, Australia in 2011. He was one of four musicians selected from the latter orchestra to be partnered up with a local musician and tour the country, working with Tourism Australia and their “Making Tracks” campaign.
Blair currently lives in Alexandria, VA, and is a highly sought-after bassoonist in the area. He frequently subs with the National Symphony Orchestra and has performed with the Baltimore Symphony, Richmond Symphony, as well as many other local musical groups. When he’s not playing the bassoon, he likes to travel with his wife, play with his two dogs, and participate in long, complicated board games.