Picture of Lisa Cornelius

Principle Bassoon

Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra

My family moved to Wisconsin about 6 years ago because of my husband’s job. This was very exciting because Wisconsin was the place we always went to for family vacations. I tell people that I am now living in vacation land.

About 4 years ago I started playing Principal Bassoon with the MFSO. I was told about this playing opportunity by a trumpet player (Eli) in the ensemble who knew that I was new to the Wisconsin area. This is such a wonderful playing opportunity with a beautiful mix of orchestral players from the area.

Music has always been an important part of my life. I started playing piano when I was 5 years old. As a child I always wanted to be singing or playing piano. I joined the church choir when I was 5 years old and within a few years I was given the chance to also play piano as the choir accompanist. At school I was also known as the piano player for all the school music programs. I guess music was always part of my life.

Growing up in Chicago, I had the chance to be a Music Major at Lane Tech HS where I was encouraged to play bassoon because of a shortage of bassoon players. Learning bassoon opened lots of doors to musical ensembles. I had the chance to play in the Youth Orchestra of Greater Chicago and they encouraged me to learn Contrabassoon. I was a Music Major at Northwestern University and played in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Summers included the Aspen Music Festival. 

I went to Carnegie Mellon University and got a Masters of Music on Bassoon. A year after graduation I got the job of playing Bassoon and Contrabassoon in the Mexico City Filharmonic. I lived south of the border for 4 years before returning to Illinois for more educational opportunities. I went to Northern Illinois University for a Performance Certificate and a second Masters in Music Education. I found that I really enjoyed teaching music. While in the college setting, I taught Music Appreciation to non-majors, sharing my enjoyment of music history and theory. 

After college, I had the chance to teach both piano and bassoon lessons to students of all ages. One of my teaching jobs was teaching general music to preschool through 8th grade at a Catholic School. This was a wonderful opportunity to create musical programs and to work with the students on Church music for daily Mass. The school also had a church choir giving me a chance to direct an ensemble for more musical opportunities.

I have always been a member of church choirs – either singing in the ensemble or as the choir accompanist. Here in Wisconsin, I am an adult choir accompanist and direct the children’s choir at a church in Brookfield. This has been a challenging year of learning how to teach kids on-line with Zoom. It has been exciting to see that children can still learn in this world of technology through the computer camera. The biggest challenge was figuring out how to make this process work. My children’s choir meets every week and we still find ways to sing together and discuss musical knowledge.

I have also assisted locally with MYSO and WSM competitions as a piano accompanist and bassoon teacher.  These events give me a chance to share my performance experience. It is so nice to see the strong musical opportunities here in Wisconsin. My husband Paul and I have two boys, Ryan (at MSOE) and Kyle (at UW Whitewater). We moved to this area of Wisconsin because of the strong educational environment. Both sons have had a chance to add music to their lives. Our oldest, Ryan, played bass drum in the drum line and bassoon in the ensembles. Kyle is a trumpet player who also enjoyed being part of the marching band wind ensemble experience.

During the day, I work at the front desk of an Assisted Living Residence. Again, I use my piano skills to share music with the residents who enjoy melodies from the 40’s to today.

My musical philosophy is to keep music fun and enjoyable. While teaching and playing in ensembles I enjoy both the piano and bassoon experience. It is always exciting for me to share my love of music in an approachable way.

When I am not doing music, I enjoy shopping and cooking. I enjoy making Norwegian and German family favorites as well as Mexican foods from our years in Mexico. Our boys have learned to enjoy cooking as well and share these favorites with their friends. When we relax in the evening with a good movie you will find me sitting with our two cats – one on each shoulder.

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