Meet the Musician: Allen Savedoff
All the Way Down to Bb
“What’s a bassoon?” a teenaged Allen Savedoff asked his 7th grade band teacher when it was suggested he supplement his clarinet studies with a second instrument. It is not that uncommon for many laymen to not know exactly what a bassoon is, let alone a contrabassoon, both of which Allen plays in the California Philharmonic. Being able to “double” is a valuable asset for woodwind players in the music business. Many musical theater and studio scores will have a “reed book,” where it is expected for one player to be able to switch between multiple woodwind instruments.
Allen Savedoff grew up in Rochester, New York. Though his father was a Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester and his mother a Classics Scholar during her college years, Allen’s parents were musically literate, understanding the importance of a musical education. So when he was just a toddler, Allen went to a repertory class for children at the Eastman School. He took piano lessons, and in the 4th grade started playing clarinet, picking up the bassoon in Junior High and the saxophone in high school. He went on to receive his Bachelor’s Degree of Music in Woodwind Performance from the University of Hartford with the emphasis on clarinet, and his Master’s from the University of Michigan, with the emphasis on bassoon (after observing more opportunities for that instrument). After teaching at Augusta College in Georgia and St. Cloud State University in Minnesota for a couple years, he ventured out to Los Angeles to freelance, where being a reed “doubler” procured him work not only in the pit for musicals, but for television cartoons as well. Doubling may not be the most appropriate term; Mr. Savedoff can find himself switching between multiple instruments in one recording session or live musical, from the various saxophones to clarinet, bassoon, and flute. He also has worked on multiple major-motion picture soundtracks, mainly playing bassoon and contrabassoon. Credits include such movies as I, Robot, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 &3, Spiderman 2 & 3, Star Trek Nemesis, Batman Forever, Forrest Gump,and Jurassic Park: The Lost World among many others.
Allen Savedoff is a member of the Pacific Symphony, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and California Philharmonic and has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, LA Philharmonic New Music Group, LA Opera, LA Chamber Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, New West Symphony, Glendale Symphony, LA Master Chorale, Opera Pacific, La Jolla Music Society, and Southwest Chamber Music. Between the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony and chamber ensembles, Mr. Savedoff has toured the world, performing in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, Mexico, and Vietnam. At present, he also holds teaching positions at Occidental College, Glendale Community College, and Pasadena City College.
In his life outside of music, Allen is interested in electric cars, having purchased a Nissan Leaf in 2011. He hangs out with electrical engineers, enjoying “tinkering” on small electrical projects. He even invented an electrical device to extend the range of the contrabassoon. He’s also a fan of native plants, and gardens as a hobby in the yard of the home he shares with his wife, Carol, a retired Special Education teacher for LAUSD.
Being a multifaceted musician, Allen Savedoff has produced three multifaceted solo CDs. SavoirFaire, on Capstone Records, is a “potpourri of new and classical music on bassoon and contrabassoon.” ContraDiction, also on Capstone, is a one-of-a-kind listening experience because it features popular jazz standards performed on contrabassoon. His third CD, Standing On Chairs, on Big Round Records, is an instrumental pop, rock and blues album, “peppered with atmospheric introductions.”
Mr. Savedoff is another musician who has played with Cal Phil and Maestro Vener since the early days back at the Arboretum and though his position is “2nd bassoon,” he has played the contrabassoon, saxophones, and bass clarinet with the orchestra. He even was featured on tenor sax in “As Time Goes By” in one of the concerts. “Victor has his own style and the audience seems to be on the same channel.” It is apparent that Mr. Savedoff, too, has his own brilliant and unique style, which he brings to the brilliant and unique channel of the California Philharmonic.