Aaron Nealy

Conway, South Carolina

University of South Carolina, BM in Bassoon Performance, 2025

Aaron Nealy is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance at the University of South Carolina, where he studies with Michael Harley. Aaron regularly plays with local orchestras around South Carolina, such as the Aiken, Augusta, and Florence Symphonies. Aaron was selected as a winner of the 2022 University of South Carolina Concerto-Aria Competition and earned first place in the 2023 Columbia Music Clubs Scholarship Fund. Aaron was a fellow of the 2023 National Music Festival and the 2023 Varna International Music Academy.

What inspired you to become a musician?
My middle school band director inspired me to switch to bassoon, and over time has become a major way I express myself.

Name three of your favorite composers:
Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Richard Strauss

What is an interesting fact about you and/or your instrument?
I have a Mountain Dew soda can collection and have tried around 100 different flavors total. Despite the collection I actually prefer Dr Pepper.

When taking a break from music-making, what is your favorite thing to do?
When not playing the bassoon, I like to hang out with friends and play UNO.

Why did you choose the NRO?
I love doing summer festivals because they provide me with orchestral experience outside of the school year. I auditioned for a few other festivals this year, but NRO was absolutely my top choice. Playing a ton of repertoire with an orchestra of skilled young musicians is an opportunity I wouldn’t pass up, not to mention the setting of Breckenridge!