Bassists: get ready to check out an interview that will knock your socks off. Contrabass Conversations co-host John Grillo recently did an interview with Boston Symphony Principal Bass Ed Barker. In addition to chatting about his early years on the instrument, schooling, and time spent in the Chicago Symphony prior to joining the Boston Symphony, Ed goes into great detail on his approach to articulation on the double bass and thought-provoking practicing concepts. Listeners will be sure to learn a great deal from this wonderful interview.
For those unfamiliar with Ed, here are some details from his remarkable career:
About Ed Barker:
Edwin Barker is recognized as one of the most gifted bassists on the American concert scene. Acknowledged as an accomplished solo and ensemble player, Mr. Barker has concertized in North America, Europe, and the Far East.
Edwin Barker has performed and recorded with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, and with the contemporary music ensemble Collage, a Boston – based contemporary music ensemble, and is a frequent guest performer with the Boston Chamber Music Society. Mr. Barker gave the world premiere of James Yannatos’ Concerto for Contrabass and Chamber Orchestra and of Theodore Antoniou’s Concertino for Contrabass and Chamber Orchestra ; he was the featured soloist in the New England premiere of Gunther Schuller’s Concerto for Double Bass and Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the composer with The Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra.
Mr. Barker graduated with honors from the New England Conservatory in 1976, where he studied double bass with Henry Portnoi. That same year, while a member of the Chicago Symphony, he was appointed at age 22 to the position of principal double bass of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His other double bass teachers included Peter Mercurio, Richard Stephan, Angelo LaMariana, and David Perleman.
Mr. Barker was invited to inaugurate the 100th anniversary season of the Boston Symphony Orchestra with a solo performance of the Koussevitzky Bass Concerto; other solo engagements have included appearances at Ozawa Hall (Tanglewood), Carnegie Recital Hall’s “Sweet and Low” series, and at major universities and conferences throughout the world, as well as concerto performances with the Boston Classical Orchestra, the Athens State Orchestra (Greece) and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston and Europe. He was a featured premiere soloist with the Boston Symphony of John Harbison’s Concerto for Bass Viol and Orchestra at Tanglewood’s 2007 Festival of Contemporary Music.
Mr. Barker is an Associate Professor at the Boston University College of Fine Arts where he teaches double bass, orchestral techniques, and chamber music. His other major teaching affiliations include the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Center, where he is Chairman of Instrumental and Orchestral Studies.
Edwin Barker’s solo CD recordings include Three Sonatas for Double Bass, on Boston Records, James Yannatos’ Variations for Solo Contrabass, on Albany Records, and Concerti for Double Bass, on GM Recordings, which includes bass concerti by Gunther Schuller and Theodore Antoniou. Concerti for Contrabass also includes his highly praised performance of Tom Johnson’s Failing , which was recorded live at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater. Edwin Barker’s latest solo offering on CD is a recently released performance of James Yannatos’ Concerto for Contrabass with Collage.
Related Contrabass Conversations content:
- Lawrence Wolfe interview (Asst. Principal Bass, Boston Symphony)
- John Grillo interviews and episodes
- Ira Gold interview (former student of Ed Barker)