What could be more intriguing than the idea of a normal-sized female musician making a solo career on a huge instrument weighing 15 pounds and containing over 18 feet of tubing? Contrabassoon crusader Susan Nigro, a native of the south side of Chicago, has done exactly this - made a name for herself as one of the world's very few soloists on this instrument. Not content merely with orchestral freelance work, the "Contrabassoonist with a Cause" has made it her mission to bring this little-known but important instrument the long overdue attention and respect it deserves.

Susan is best known for a history of solo performance with the contrabassoon.  Her innumerable recitals and solo appearances have occurred in such places as Salzburg, Montevideo, Rome, and throughout the United States.  On many occasions, she has been a featured artist at the annual conferences of the International Double Reed Society, and has also played as a guest artist with the Northern Hills Bassoon Ensemble as well as with the St. Luke's Bottle Band. Her solo performances are, more often than not, accompanied by master classes, lecture-demonstrations, or workshops designed by this contrabassoon spokesperson to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the instrument's unique sound and surprising versatility.  In recognition of her status, she served as a "permanent substitute" with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for five seasons, from 2008 to 2013 - and is currently contrabassoonist with the Illinois Philharmonic, the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, and the New Philharmonic of DuPage.

Ms. Nigro's quest for contrabassoon solo literature has led her to commission and perform many new compositions, and she has premiered more than 4 dozen solo works for this instrument.  Some of these new pieces have been published, and others are in the publication process.  Susan is also a recording artist, and has 8 CDs currently on the market:    "The Big Bassoon" (1995), "Little Tunes for the Big Bassoon" (1997), "The Two Contras" - in collaboration with retired CSO contra player Burl Lane (1999), "The Bass Nightingale" - (2001), "New Tunes for the Big Bassoon", (2003),  "Italian Tunes for the Big Bassoon" - (2005),  "Original Tunes for the Big Bassoon" (2008), and "Joplin Tunes for the Big Bassoon"(2014) - for which she received a Bronze Medial in instrumental solo performance from Global Music Awards in March of 2016.  Clips from these discs may be heard on the recordings page of and excerpts from these CDs have been aired on WFMT/WDCB/WNUR/WNIB - in Chicago, WNTI - in New Jersey, and 2MBS-FM - In Australia.

Susan was the winner of a Pro Musicis International Career Development Grant, and a finalist in the Chicago Park District Talent Search. She received an honorable mention prize in the Rome Festival Concerto Competition, a competitive national audition. Her orchestral experience has included regular subbing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, previous work with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and extensive freelancing in the Chicago area. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University, and an additional graduate degree from Roosevelt University. Her teachers were Burl Lane, Ferdinand Del Negro, Willard Elliot, Leonard Sharrow, Sherman Walt, and Wilbur Simpson. She was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center for three summers, where she was awarded the Henry B. Cabot Prize, and honed her ensemble skills in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.  In May 2007, the Order Sons of Italy in America, State of Illinois, bestowed upon Susan their Leonardo da Vinci Award of Excellence in the field of Performing Arts, and in November 2017, she received an Alumni Award from the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Nigro has been on the State Artists Rosters of eight U.S. states including the Illinois Arts Council's Arts Tour Artists Roster, has appeared as a guest artist at the Rome Festival in Italy, the Aspekte Festival of Salzburg, and at the Grand Teton (WY) Music Festival, and also was an artist-in-residence at the 3rd Annual Contrabassoon Festival (UT). She is a founding member of the Chicago Bassoon Quartet, "The 2 Contras" contrabassoon duo, and ContraBand - probably the world's only contrabassoon ensemble. The International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, England named Susan "International Musician of the Year" for 2003.  Her Artist Biography is included in the archives of the International Music Museum in London, England, she is listed in the 14th Edition (1994) of International Who's Who in Music, and she holds memberships in a dozen high IQ organizations:  The One-in-a-Thousand Society, The International Society for Philosophical Enquiry, Uber IQ, The Poetic Genius Society Intertel, The Mind Society, The Top One Percent Society, Mensa, The High Potentials Society, The International High IQ Society, Ten IQ, and The World Intelligence Network.   Susan resides with her beloved canine companions Ugo and Miss Marple, Cirneco dell'Etna hounds from Sicily.