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Rare contrabassoon stolen from Colburn School

October 31, 2008 |  4:01 pm

28contrabassoon_2 The Colburn School is offering a $1,000 reward for the safe return of a limited-edition contrabassoon that the music school says was stolen last week from a rehearsal room at Colburn's downtown campus.

Alexandra Brooks, director of communications and marketing for the school, said Friday that a thorough search of the campus has ruled out the possibility that the contrabassoon was mislaid.

The instrument -- a Fox 950 model contrabassoon, serial number 622, less than a year old -- is one of only four in the world and worth $30,000. School officials say they will be unable to replace such a special instrument in time for a Nov. 8 concert by the Colburn Orchestra at Pasadena's Ambassador Auditorium, although a school spokesman reports that the show will go on.

The contrabassoon features a new fingering system developed by Arlen Fast of the New York Philharmonic. Richard Beene, associate dean of the Colburn Conservatory of Music and also professor of bassoon, met Fast several years ago when Beene was playing with the New York Philharmonic and Fast was tinkering with the contrabassoon for Fox Musical Instruments. "He made changes in the way the bassoon operates to make it much more reliable." Beene said the school will most likely borrow a contrabassoon for the performance.

For the layperson, the contrabassoon is the lowest-pitched of the wind instruments; its pitch is about an octave lower than a regular bassoon.

Colburn asks anyone with information to contact the dean's office at 213-621-1025. All calls will be dealt with "in complete confidence."

In an unrelated development, last week Culture Monster reported something else missing from the Colburn School: Its president, Miguel Angel Corzo, who suddenly resigned his post. Colburn offered no comment on Corzo's departure, and the executive could not be reached for comment.

--Diane Haithman

Photo of contrabassoon courtesy of San Luis Obispo Symphony

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