We’ve had a wide array of guests on the Contrabass Conversations during the nearly two years the program has been live, from international soloists and jazz artists to students and composers. For those bassists either active in the orchestral world or seriously considering a career as an orchestral bassist, the advice from a principal bass of a major orchestra can prove especially invaluable.
We’ve been able to profile and interview some of the world’s finest double bass section leaders on Contrabass Conversations. Each of them has offered a different perspective on how the role of principal bass differs from that of section bass, and their experiences are shared in their respective episodes.
Many (perhaps even most) of our podcast guests have been principal bassists for various orchestras–this is just a sampling from our archives, and if you think we’re skipping over one of your favorite players right now it’s probably because we’re planning on using them for a future list!
Jeff Turner – Pittsburgh Symphony
In addition to his duties as Principal Bass of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Jeff has become a teacher with a considerable reputation for effectively leading double bassists toward a career in orchestral playing. This was a very enjoyable interview with an experienced and insightful orchestral principal.
Jeffrey Turner joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1987. He served as Principal Bass of the New American Chamber Orchestra from 1984 to 1986 and became a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1986. Mr. Turner, a native of South Carolina, holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester. His teachers include James VanDemark, Lawrence Hurst and Robert Gladstone.
Mr. Turner serves on the faculties of Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon University. He is the Artistic Director of the City Music Center’s Young Bassist Program, and gives annual seminars and master classes at universities and conservatories throughout the world. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Eastman School of Music and Lecturer at the University of Maryland.
Owen Lee – Cincinnati Symphony
CBC co-host John Grillo and I interviewed Owen Lee, which was a real treat from both of us. Owen has an organized approach to double bass technique which bassists can glean a lot from, and he truly is a top-tier musician.
Described as “a true virtuoso” by legendary pianist Gary Graffman and praised by The New York Times for his “deft and virtuosic solo performance” at his New York debut at Alice Tully Hall, double bassist Owen Lee has earned acclaim as a soloist, chamber musician and since 1996, at the age of 26, as Principal Bass of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Lee is heard regularly as a soloist with orchestras including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Paavo Järvi and Jesús López-Cobos, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under John Harbison, and the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson-Thomas in Miami and on tour to New York’s Lincoln Center. During the 2006-07 season, Mr. Lee and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, along with a consortium of other soloists and orchestras, presented the world premiere of John Harbison’s Concerto for Bass Viol and Orchestra.
Dave Anderson – Louisiana Philharmonic
In addition to serving as Principal Bass of the Louisiana Philharmonic, Dave is a prolific composer, active teacher, and electric bassist. He serves as Principal Bass of the Britt Festival Orchestra in southern Oregon, and he plays in metropolitan New Orleans and beyond in a variety of bands.
He has performed extensively with many diverse ensembles including, the Aspen Festival, Chautauqua (NY) Festival, Colorado Philharmonic (NRO), Colorado Music Festival, the LaSalle Quartet, and as a soloist with Richard Stoltzman, Gene Bertoncini, Nigel Kennedy, Bobby McFerrin, Doc Severinsen and many others. He has served as Bass Instructor for the Music School at Loyola University and also on the Board of Directors of the International Society of Bassists (ISB) as bassist/composer.
Robert Meyer – Vancouver Symphony
Robert Meyer is the former Principal Bass of the Vancouver Symphony and has been active as a professional bass player since the 1940s, working for most of the major orchestras in London (including the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, and BBC Symphony), and teaching at the Universities of British Columbia and Victoria.