Jo Ann Simpson graduated from the University of Ottawa, Canada in 1978 with a Bachelor of Music, majoring in bassoon performance with Gerald Corey. She continued graduate studies with William Waterhouse in London, England. While in London, she was awarded the position of principal bassoon in the Municipal Symphony Orchestra of Caracas Venezuela, a position that she maintained until 1986 when she returned to Ottawa where she has lived ever since working as a freelance performer and teacher.
As a freelance bassoonist, Jo Ann has worked with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony, the McGill Chamber Orchestra, the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, the Kingston Symphony, the Ottawa Symphony, l’Orchestre Symphonique de Gatineau Quebec, l’Orchestre Symphonique du Québec, l’Orchestre Symphonique de Trois Rivieres and The Orchestra of Northern New York.
Jo Ann has performed as soloist with orchestras in Venezuela, Uruguay and Canada.
She has performed numerous chamber music and solo recitals, recorded by both the CBC and Radio Canada.
As a teacher, Jo Ann Simpson maintains the largest bassoon studio in Ottawa, Canada. She teaches the Beginner Bassoon program for The Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy. She is the bassoon tutor for both the English and the French arts specialized high schools in Ottawa and Professor of Bassoon at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec à Gatineau and Carleton University in Ottawa.
Graduates of her studio have gone on to study at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Yale, McGill University (Montreal), the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec à Montreal, the Glenn Gould School of Music (Toronto), Ottawa University, Northwestern University (Chicago), the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel and the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne, Switzerland. Her students have also played with The National Youth Orchestra of Canada and have won the National Arts Centre Bursary Awards.
Jo Ann Simpson filled the interim position of Bassoon Professor at The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam New York for the school year 2005-2006.
Jo Ann Simpson is one of the few bassoonists in the world who play both German and French system bassoon. She has appeared at IDRS Conferences in Las Vegas (1987), Baltimore (1991), Greensboro (2004) and Muncie (2006) as a member of the North American French Bassoon Quartet. She also appears on the North American French Bassoon Quartet debut CD.