Click here for the archive of profiles that takes you behind the scenes with some of the featured performers who bring their special talents to Emmanuel Music.
When Jensen Ling was 11 and just starting middle school in Boca Raton, Florida, he signed up for band to avoid having to take phys ed. At the school’s meet-an-instrument night, he decided he didn’t really like the tuba or clarinet or saxophone, despite grownups’ urgings. There was a bassoon in a corner, and he kind of liked the way it sounded: Jensen Ling chose the bassoon. The instrument was not completely unfamiliar. Most mornings, local NPR classical lite accompanied rides to school in the car: Sousa marches, war-horses, and Peter and the Wolf, played, in retrospect, with puzzling frequency.
Towards the end of middle school, Jensen auditioned for admission to the Dreyfoos School of the Arts, a Palm Beach County magnet high school in West Palm Beach. He got in, and once school began, music faculty let him know that he was expected to take private lessons in addition to whatever music he studied and performed at school. This took him by surprise: he thought he was the best already. But dutifully (and fortunately) he commenced lessons with Palm Beach Opera bassoonist Michael Ellert, who remains a valued teacher, mentor, and friend.
Ellert steered him toward Boston and the New England Conservatory, where Jensen completed his BM, then returned to Florida for a year, freelancing with various groups. The following year he enrolled in Boston University’s Master of Music in Performance program, studying with BSO bassoonists Gregg Henegar and Richard Ranti.
Connecting with Tanglewood Institute through BU, for several summers Jensen managed the Young Artists Orchestra and served as a member of the chamber music faculty. Students in the Young Artists Orchestra range from rising high-school freshmen to college sophomores. As chamber faculty, Ling concentrated on helping his group develop its voice and on teaching the members how to communicate to accomplish this.
In Boston, Jensen can be found primarily in the orchestral setting. Due to the many opportunities, he can, happily, play an opera one day, a cantata the next, and a ballet in the evening. He performs in and around Boston with groups such as the Orchestra of Emmanuel Music, Cantata Singers, the Boston Ballet Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Odyssey Opera, Back Bay Chorale, New Bedford Symphony, Albany Symphony, Symphony New Hampshire, Boston Philharmonic, and Sound Icon; and has appeared at the Rockport Chamber Festival. Jensen also maintains an active private teaching studio in Boston.
This past summer, Artistic Director Ryan Turner named Jensen a Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Fellow. The Lorraine Hunt Lieberson award recognizes young musicians of exceptional promise and offers them opportunities to perform in prominent roles. He particularly values Emmanuel’s nurturing, supportive environment, high-level music-making, and informed, articulate, and often brilliant colleagues. The surprisingly open and ongoing conversation about all things musical makes Emmanuel Music seem, to Ling, almost like more school: school at its best.