Mark Popkin’s Obituary

Mark Popkin, Physicist and Bassoonist, founding member of Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and North Carolina School of the Arts, dies at 82

Mark Popkin, husband of Elsie and father of Laird, Benjamin and Elizabeth, grandfather of Madeleine, Emma, Sarah, Rose, Teddy, Max and Josie.

He taught bassoon and coached chamber music at the North Carolina School of the Arts since its founding in 1965. He received his B.A. in Physics from Brooklyn College and his M.S. in industrial engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology. He served in the military, and worked in the Brooklyn Naval Yards research labs, where he worked on groundbreaking projects including the Polaris Missile guidance system.

A student of the legendary Simon Kovar, he has was a member of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center since its inception in 1966. He performed as principal bassoon with the New Jersey Symphony, the New York Pops, the New York Choral Society and the Winston-Salem Symphony, and played with the Houston Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Casals Festival, the Madeira Bach Festival, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the New York Chamber Symphony, the New York City Center and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras, the New York City Ballet Orchestra, the Symphony of the Air, and the Columbia Records Orchestra.

He was the founder and director of the Glickman-Popkin Bassoon Camp and Mark Popkin’s Bassoon Camp By-the-Sea. His book, “Bassoon Reed Making, Repair and Maintenance,” third edition, published by the Instrumentalist Company, has been characterized as “the bassoonists’ bible.” Popkin also designed and produced important bassoon and contrabassoon reed making tools, marketed through his Clarion Music Company, and now through former student, Kendall Wilson.

Mark gave master classes throughout the USA as well as in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. His wind transcriptions are published by Musica Rara, Editions Compusic, Alry Publications, and the Theodore Presser Company. The Opus Five Woodwind Quintet was awarded a 2001 Winston-Salem Arts Council Artists Projects grant to produce a CD of his transcriptions for wind quintet of the Debussy and Ravel string quartets. Popkin also won the 2003 Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, as NCSA’s top teacher.

The Popkin family asks instead of sending flowers and cards please make a donation to Bassoon Camp (, where he was always an inspiration to hundreds of bassoonists whether they were college students, professional, amateur bassoonists or those who just plain loved the bassoon. Make checks payable to Wildacres Bassoon Camp Scholarship Fund and send them to: Maria Narf Spuller, 1520 Martin Street, Suite 201, Winston-Salem, NC 27103.

The ceremony will be at Temple Emanuel in Winston Salem, North Carolina, on Wednesday at 6 PM:

Temple Emanuel
201 Oakwood Drive
Winston-Salem, NC 27103
(336) 722-6640