3 June 1999
Mark Enslin

Bassoon Recital Rocks Albanian Youth

Music review
Skopje, Macedonia

On a sunny Tuesday afternoon last week, residents of the Chigrana refugee camp were offered a rare musical treat: a free, free-form solo bassoon
recital by an amateur American clown know variously as "Marko", "Mark", "Moo", and "Shok". Part of a three-day festival sponsored jointly by
humanitarian flight attendants, homeopathic doctors, the UNHCR, and a West Virginia free silly hospital, the event showed that the 39,000 person tent city (comparable in population if not in area and foliation to Urbana, Illinois) harbors many dedicated fans of bassoon music.

The program consisted of brief snippets of C. M. von Weber¹s concerto for bassoon and orchestra, "Les Moutons de Panurge" by Frederic Rzewski, and "Sonatina for Bassoon Alone" by Herbert Brün, all embedded in improvised noodlings inspired by the local modal pop piped into the area and performed in the manner of a strolling minstrel. The melange was frequently punctuated by rapid descents to the lowest note of the instrument, whereupon a rubber glove tucked into the bell would inflate and greet the assembly. Further breaks in the texture were provided by audience participation in the form of squeezing the performers¹ rubber nose and spinning the propeller on his beanie, and even international institutional participation in the form of percussive aerial bombardment several kilometers north of the performance space.

A high point of the afternoon was when the entourage of Mr. Shok (Albanian for "friend"), which by that time was hanging off the soloist¹s arms and trying out a few notes on the bassoon themselves, met the entourage of Dottor Bombo, an italophone professional clown also participating in the 15-clown extravaganza, a round of hugs as of long lost relatives ensued. Another high point was when Mr. Shok consented to take a few spins on the bumper cars.

While close contact allowed for considerable give and take with the audience, towards the end of the afternoon the performer showed signs of
being overwhelmed by the physical nature of the audience¹s expressions of admiration and seemed relieved to arrive at the tour bus with body and
bassoon, at least, intact.

In subsequent days of the festival Shok reluctantly abandoned the bassoon in favor of performing his impressions of a cow.

Brief discussions with members of the audience during and after the performance mostly consisted of inquiries into names and countries of origin
(favorite answer: Antarctica), but also touched on opinions of various world leaders, dynamics of mass hypnosis, and how to break cycles of revenge. The topic of sanctions against Iraq rarely came up.

One audience member commented: "Maybe the children will dream of clowns instead of bombs."