Ronan Whittern

Ronan Whittern is a bassoon player and conductor specialising in the performance of new music. Originally from Ireland, he now lives and works in Essen, Germany.


As a conductor, he has worked predominantly with living composers on premiering new works, most recently with German based composer Matthias Krüger on his new work for double bass octet, an incomparable milk of wonder, premiered in November 2023 in Essen, Germany. He has also worked in opera, collaborating with American composer Riles Walsh and scenographer Yannick Verweij on a new opera The East Complex, culminating in 5 performances across two venues (Opera Ghent, Minardschouwburg Theater) with two separate casts, in Ghent, Belgium. Previous to this, he has conducted Pierrot Lunaire in Glasgow, Scotland. Upcoming projects include Tristan Murail’s Ethers with soloist Aaron Wolharn, Nicolaus A. Huber’s Seifenoper, and several premieres of student works at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen.


In 2019, Ronan graduated from the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA) in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where he spent a year studying intensely the literature and performance practice of contemporary music under the tutelage of members of the Ensemble Modern. In 2018, he completed his Masters studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow with David Hubbard and Peter Whelan, where he also completed his undergraduate studies. From 2010-12 he studied at Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester, with Anthea Wood and Steve Magee.


Ronan has performed at festivals such as steirische herbst, Wien Modern, Musikfest Berlin, Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, Holland Festival, Gaudeamus Festival, Impuls Festival, and Klangspuren Schwaz, and has taken part in masterclasses with Pascal Gallois, Sarah Watts, Andrea de Flammeneis, and Amy Harman. Ronan has performed with the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Musikfabrik, Boulez Ensemble, Das Neue Ensemble Hannover, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and worked under such conductors as François-Xavier Roth, Stefan Asbury, Ilan Volkov, Vimbayi Kaziboni, Lucas Vis, Elim Chan, and Peter Rundel. He has had the opportunity to work with composers such as Sir George Benjamin, Sir James MacMillan, Enno Poppe, Bernard Gander, Stefan Prins, and Heiner Goebbels as well as with many young composers. 


Ronan was a founding member and bassoonist of Trio Arcania, a Glasgow-based award-winning reed trio, who worked regularly with young composers to commission new works. He was also a member of the Nevis Ensemble, with whom he performed in venues all over Scotland, and took part in the premiere of a new work for solo bassoon commissioned by the Nevis Ensemble, which was broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland in 2020.

In addition to his bassoon and conducting work, Ronan also works with electronic music instruments, and in 2021 released an album with Lithuanian jazz trio Quark Effect, titled Lunar Soil.