BRUNSWICK — Aaron Brown played clarinet in middle school and admittedly didn’t know much about the bassoon. It wasn’t until the middle school band had an opening for a bassoonist that Brown learned of the instrument.

The bassoon is a woodwind — like a clarinet and saxophone — in the double reed family that first appeared in its modern form in the 19th century. It is popular in orchestral, concert band and chamber music, and its warm, dark tone is often compared to a male baritone voice.

“I basically knew nothing about the bassoon, but I got put on (the instrument) because they needed someone to play it,” Brown said during a telephone interview earlier this month. “I got stuck with it, but I’m glad I did.”

Brown, 17, of Shapleigh, is one of the featured musicians who will perform during an Oct. 17 taping at Bowdoin College of the hit NPR show “From the Top,” a showcase for young musicians which will be guest hosted that evening by renowned classical pianist Orli Shaham. The free, 90-minute show begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Studzinski Recital Hall.

“From the Top is such a high-stakes performance that I’m probably going to get nervous, but I’m not yet,” he said. “I usually don’t have too much performance anxiety.”

Brown is a senior at Massabesic High School and studies bassoon with Wren Saunders, artist faculty at the University of Southern Maine. He performs with the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble, Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Massabesic High School Chamber Singers, and he has been selected to Maine’s all-state band the past three years.

Saunders said Brown, who plans on being a professional musician, is an enthusiastic and engaging student who is eager to learn and understands that critique is a tool to obtain a higher level of musical excellence.

“He embraces it,” Saunders said via email. “He will be a successful musician because he not only has the requisite musical talent, but he also has the determination, work ethic, positive attitude and collegiality needed to persevere in what can be a very rewarding yet brutally challenging career.”

“From the Top” was founded in Boston in 1995 by Gerald Slavet and Jennifer Hurley-Wales as a variety-style radio show. More than 20 years later, the show has evolved into a multimedia and arts education program that brings together young classically-trained musicians and collaborators from multiple artistic genres and disciplines.

The show — with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation — awards $200,000 in scholarships to exceptional young musicians with financial need. This year, Brown is one of the scholarship winners, an award he said will make a huge difference in his musical life.

“The scholarship is going to allow me to look at (auditioning) at colleges further away because I won’t have to pay for travel,” Brown said. “I can buy stuff for my instrument that’ll allow me to improve my playing and stuff that I’ll need on a professional level.”

For college, Brown is considering the University of Southern Maine, McGill in Montreal, Temple University, the University of Michigan, the New England Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Coburn and Julliard. He’s leaning toward Temple and the Manhattan School of Music. He plans on starting auditions in January or February, so music is going to be his top priority for the next several months.

“I’m going to be doing a lot of practicing,” he said. “The fun will come and go, but what’s most important right now is getting into college, and I’m working hard at it.”

Brown said what he likes about the bassoon and what makes it difficult is the same: it’s a really challenging instrument. He said it works unlike any other instrument, and he enjoys that it is difficult, challenging and unique.

“You have to learn how to move your fingers and (use your lips) a certain way that you don’t for any other instrument,” he said. “It’s the kind of instrument where you have to sit down, take some time and do some dedicated practice and repetition over and over again.”

The NPR show airs at 5 p.m. on Saturdays and can be heard on Maine Public Classical Radio. It is broadcast on more than 220 stations nationwide to an audience of nearly 500,000 listeners. It is the most-heard weekly one-hour music program on public radio.

Other young musicians joining Brown in performing on “From the Top” at Bowdoin include 17-year-old violinist Brandon Aponte, from Blue Hill; cellist Jiaxun Caroline Yao, 16, from Flushing, New York; pianist Avery Gagliano, 17, of Philadelphia; and the Davisson Guitar Duo — Elle Davisson, 10, and Jack Davisson, 13 — from Palo Alto, Calif.

Brown will perform “I. Vivace” from the Sonata for Bassoon and Piano by William Hurlstone, with Shaham on piano.

Aponte, the concertmaster of the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra, toured Asia with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States this past summer. He will perform “Méditation” from Thaïs by Jules Massenet, with Shaham on piano.

In an email, Aponte said he’s always wanted to perform on “From the Top.” He said as a toddler, he ignored Legos and playing with blocks and instead gravitated toward toy instruments like tambourines and xylophones. He took his first violin lesson when he was three and never looked back, though he wants to pursue a career in biomedical research.

“But I would definitely like to play violin in college,” Aponte said. “I would like to play in an orchestra and a chamber group.”

Shaham has performed all over the world with groups including the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and with orchestras in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Sydney Opera House, and in 2010, she launched Baby Got Bach, an interactive concert series for young children.

She’s played at Bowdoin College before but has never been a guest host on “From the Top.” In a phone interview last week, Shaham said she’s looking forward to playing with the prodigious young and talented musicians.

“It’s incredibly inspiring because the kids they select (to perform) top-notch, and yet they’re often new to certain kinds of collaboration, so there is a passion about every note,” she said. “It’s inspiring to play with anyone who is at that level of emotional commitment.”

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