Treasured Tunes featuring Christopher Ulffers

Q&A with Christopher Ulffers

Christopher Ulffers is the associate director of the School of Music and bassoon professor at East Carolina University. Ulffers, who has been at ECU for 19 years, received his MM from Indiana University and his BM from Southern Illinois University. Ulffers has performed with many groups including the St. Louis Philharmonic, Springfield Symphony, South Bend, Evansville, Terre Haute, and Indianapolis symphonies, Virginia Symphony, Virginia Opera, the North Carolina Symphony, Wilmington, N.C. Symphony, and Charleston, S.C. Symphony.

What musicians inspire you?

Most of my professional activity now is orchestral, and conductors inspire me. Also other bassoon players and my colleagues here inspire me. The greatest thing about the School of Music is that you are surrounded by really wonderful people who motivate you.

How did you become passionate about music?

My passion for music goes back to high school. In the mid-1980s when I was a high school student, I played the bassoon, and I was involved in a lot. I played with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, and I was singing in a semi-professional church choir. I really became passionate about music while I was an undergraduate as well. Most people who major in music do so because it is something they love, and they make a career out of it because they realize they can make money as well. There are only two careers I know where you play for a living: music and sports.

What do you enjoy about teaching music?

The thing that gives me the most joy is my interaction with the students, whether it is teaching them to play the bassoon or helping them graduate and finish their degree. I serve as the advisor for most of the school of music, so I see students every day who need academic advice for one reason or another. I have been here for 19 years, and it’s always a new adventure. It makes me happy to see those students go out and be successful.

If we were to look at your iPod or ride with you in your car, what music would we hear?

Bassoon music, Christmas music, also the compositions I am preparing to play.

Any music/songs people might be surprised about when they learn you listen to them?

I like listening to a variety of music. When I was listening to pop music regularly, I loved The Police and Sting, and I still do. I  enjoy listening to any pop musician who is doing something that is really interesting. People might think that it’s weird that I like Eminem, but I like him because of what he is able to do with rhythm and language. I also like Jason Mraz because of what he is able to do aurally and sonically with music. My wife and I are also fans of American Idol. We DVR the show and do not miss an episode. We don’t so much like results night and the guest artists, but we really enjoy the performance night and hearing what the young musicians are doing with the music and how they are interpreting that music.

This has been a production of East Carolina University. To hear more, please visit the Treasured Tunes index.