Joe Qiu

I started off my musical life as a guitarist, drummer and recorder player, before somehow finding my calling as a bassoonist aged 13. I studied at the Guildhall in London before heading to Amsterdam and then The Hague, where I eventually completed my Masters degree in 2017.

Since moving back to South East London I’ve been lucky enough to make a living playing the bassoon. I work regularly as a principal bassoon with period instrument orchestras including the Orchestra of the Age of Englightenment (on trial for Co-Principal 2016-2018), Dunedin Consort, Arcangelo, Academy of Ancient Music, The English Concert, and La Nuova Musica, with whom I am principal bassoon.


With these ensembles I perform on a range of historical bassoons, mostly modern copies of instruments dating from around 1720 to 1890. 

I've also worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, The Hague Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, with whom I have been on trial for Principal Bassoon.

I appear as principal bassoon on a number of recent recordings, including La Nuova Musica's Orfeo, Arcangelo's Brockes Passion, Academy of Ancient Music's Immortal Beloved, Favourite Adagios with the RPO, and Irish Baroque Orchestra's Trials of Tenducci. I can be heard on a number of recordings with Apartment House for the Another Timbre label, in music by John Cage, Antoine Beuger, and Georgia Rodgers. A recording of all the big Handel arias with obbligato bassoon solos, with La Nuova Musica and Iestyn Davies, is coming out in Autumn 2021.

I’m always looking for new music to play. In spring 2019 I collaborated with the 840 concert series to commission and perform 6 brand new pieces for bassoon and double bass, alongside bassist James Oesi. The previous year I curated a chamber concert for the Multi-Story Orchestra which included my new version of Julius Eastman’s 1973 masterpiece Stay On It, as well as music by Björk, Couperin, and Mary Jane Leach.


Multi-Story is a big part of my musical life and I have been working with them since their first performance in Peckham’s multi storey car park in 2011. Their incredible work with young people in Peckham and beyond is a great source of hope! Plans for summer 2020 include Stay On It with students at Birmingham Conservatoire and “Living Programme Notes” for Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.

Many musicians are very lucky to get to see the world through touring. Because of my work I've been able to spend time with family who live abroad whom I might rarely see otherwise, and had so many amazing musical, culinary and social experiences on tour. Unfortunately all this comes at an extreme environmental cost, and I am absolutely committed to making sure the music industry does whatever it can to reduce its intense reliance on air travel. In March 2020 I joined the OAE on their first "Green Tour", travelling to Poland and Hungary from the UK by train. There's a lot to work on but I am sure we are heading in the right direction. 


When I’m not making music, I love walking down Deptford High Street, cooking Chinese food, and following my teams - Crystal Palace and the Baltimore Ravens. 


My surname is pronounced like "chew".

Joe Qiu bassoonist bassoon James Oesi
Joe Qiu bassoonist bassoon
Image: Justyna Wichowska