Dana Jessen

  • Associate Professor of Contemporary Music and Improvisation
  • Director of Conservatory Professional Development



  • MM, New Dutch Swing through the Jazz & Pop Department, Artez Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Arnhem, the Netherlands, 2011
  • J. William Fulbright Fellowship, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2008-09
  • MM, bassoon performance, New England Conservatory of Music, 2007
  • BM, bassoon performance, Louisiana State University, 2005


Dana Jessen is a bassoonist, improviser, and educator with experience in artist-run ensembles, nonprofit organizations, and successful project-based music initiatives.

She is the cofounder of Splinter Reeds, a San Francisco-based reed quintet, and has performed with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Ensemble Dal Niente, Calefax Reed Quintet, Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Orchestra, and the Amsterdam Contemporary Ensemble, among others. Her tireless commitment to contemporary music through collaborations with composers and improvisers from around the globe has led to dozens of new solo, chamber, and electroacoustic works.

In 2009, Jessen spearheaded the commission of Rushes, an hourlong composition for seven bassoons by composer and Bang On a Can cofounder Michael Gordon. Her solo initiative Carve is a concert-length program of new works that she commissioned for bassoon and electronics. It was released as Jessen’s debut album on Innova in January 2017.

Jessen has received project support for numerous initiatives from granting organizations including New Music USA, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Chamber Music America, Zellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, and the Netherland-America Cultural Grant.

She lived for three years in Amsterdam, where she researched contemporary and improvised music as the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and the HSP Huygens Fellowship. In addition to her work at Oberlin, she is a member of the summer faculty at the Walden School Young Musicians Program.

Spring 2023

Sec Pvt Applied Study: — PVST 099
Approaches and Philosophies of Free Music — APST 143
Chamber Music — APST 800
Contemporary Chamber Music — APST 805
Oberlin Creative Music Lab — APST 818

Fall 2023

Sec Pvt Applied Study: — PVST 099
Professional Development for Musicians — PROF 200
Chamber Music — APST 800
Contemporary Chamber Music — APST 805
Oberlin Creative Music Lab — APST 818


Oberlin Improv Fest 2023 Celebrates Range of Creative Practices

March 2, 2023

This year Oberlin students have had the opportunity for the first time to declare a minor in a new formalized course of study in improvisation. And from Thursday, March 2 through Saturday, March 4, they will have an immersive experience in the Oberlin Improv Fest 2023. All events of the festival are also open to audiences and are free.