Lecolion Washington is both a new music and an education champion. Associate Professor of Bassoon at the University of Memphis, Washington has premiered dozens of solo and chamber works all over the world.
He served on the faculty of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival in South Africa from 2006-2013. At this festival, he has been a featured soloist on multiple occasions and he performs, coaches chamber music, and teaches masterclasses along with distinguished faculty from all over the world including principal players from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Mozarteum Orchestra, the National Symphony, and the Dallas Symphony. Die Berger described that audiences were “consistently impressed by his beautiful and lyrical playing and the joy in the music was evident.”
The first non-string recipient of the MPower Artist Grant from the Sphinx Organization, Lecolion received support to embark on a global concert and masterclass tour during the 2015-2016 season. Professor Washington traveled to Canada as the featured guest artist at the University of Toronto’s inaugural Bassoon-a-palooza. In Toronto, Washington performed a recital of music for bassoon and strings, gave masterclasses, and he served as a panelist in discussions about musical entrepreneurship and the future of classical music. Washington’s international travels continued in Brazil where he performed and gave masterclasses at the Universidade de São Paulo, Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, and the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco. After briefly returning to the US, Washington continued his journey with a concert tour in S. Africa where he performed recitals featuring music by African-American composers on the Cape Town Concert Series, on the Musica Mundi Concert Series, at the Church on Greenmarket Square, on the La Motte Winery Concert Series, and on the Sasolburg Concert Series. He was also invited to give chamber music and solo bassoon masterclasses for students at the University of Cape Town, the Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, the Beau Soleil Music Centre, and at the Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre. Washington has also performed as a featured soloist at International Double Reed Society Conferences in Austin, Ithaca (NY), Birmingham (UK), Tempe (AZ), Norman (OK), and Oxford (OH).
His CD entitled Legacy: Music for Bassoon by African-American Composers released on the Albany Records label. All Music Guide states that the recording “showcases Washington's fine singing tone on the bassoon” and the writer for Fanfare Magazine notes that “my speakers, and my head, dote on the rich, warm quality of [Washington’s] lower register.”
Washington studied privately with Kristin Wolfe Jensen, Frank Morelli, and Wilfred Roberts at the University of Texas at Austin, the Manhattan School of Music, and Southern Methodist University respectively. One of the defining moments of Washington’s student years was working with Kristin Jensen at the University of Texas. After which, he followed in her footsteps by winning the concerto competition at the International Festival Institute at Round Top. This ignited his desire to pursue a career in bassoon. He was also winner of the Southern Methodist University concerto competition. Washington has participated in several festivals in the United States including the Texas Music Festival, the Cape May Music Festival, and the International Festival Institute at Round Top. Based on auditions, he has been offered positions with the Houston Grand Opera, the Shanghai Broadcasting Orchestra, and the Victoria (TX) Symphony.
In addition to his performance career, Washington is an advocate for the relevance of music as an agent for social change, and he is the Founder/President of the PRIZM Ensemble, a community-building and educational chamber group which he co-founded with his wife Carina Nyberg Washington in 2009. PRIZM has programs such as the OMusic Project (a music program in a neighborhood in Memphis called Orange Mound, the first African-American neighborhood to be built by African Americans), the PRIZM in the Schools Program, and the PRIZM International Chamber Music Festival that are focused on community engagement and youth development. Washington also serves as the Director of In-School Programs for the 20-million-dollar Music Initiative (MMI) that has a variety of music programs at public, charter, and parochial schools throughout Memphis. Washington leads the MMI team that develops and implements all of the programs that work in the schools including a musician fellowship program, teacher/principal professional developments, and non-profit partnerships in schools. In 2014, he was named by the Memphis Business Journal as one of the Top 40 under 40.
Today, Lecolion is most proud of his wife, Swedish clarinetist Carina Nyberg Washington who is the Director of Educational and Artistic Programming for PRIZM; their two sons, Henning and Matteus; and their dog, Shadow.