This episode from the archives features an interview that Barry Lieberman did with Gary Karr. In preparation for it, Barry listened to all of Gary Karr’s recordings and picked out his very favorite, and he and Gary listen to these and discuss the context behind them. It’s a fascinating window into this great artist, and it’s well worth a listen. This was originally released in 2008 on episode 89 of the podcast.
There is a video version of this episode as well.
About Gary Karr:
Gary Karr, acclaimed as “the world’s leading solo bassist” (Time Magazine), is, in fact, the first solo double bassist in history to make that pursuit a full-time career. It is a career that adds new lustre to his already lustrous 1611 Amati doublebass which was given to him by the widow of Serge Koussevitzky.
Since his debut with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in 1962, Karr has performed as soloist on six continents with orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, Simon Bolivar Orchestra (Caracas, Venezuela), Jerusalem Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, and with all the major orchestras of Australia.
On Italian cable, three Karr doublebass recitals reached 20 million classical music lovers. The numerous CDs that Gary Karr has recorded and released in Japan are “top of the recording charts” favorites in the Far East. The BBC has featured two video films of Karr, one an illumination of his life and music (Amazing Bass) and one a series for children. On his third recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, Karr performed the Concerto for Bass by John Downey. CBS Sunday Morning celebrated Gary Karr’s career and the University of Wisconsin has released a video demonstrating his instructional approach to the doublebass (BASSically Karr) in addition to a special video concert for children (Karrtunes).
One of Karr’s proudest achievements is the Bronze Medal he received from the Rosa Ponselle Foundation which recognizes him as an outstanding lyrical musician. Gary is the proud holder of the 1997 Artist/Teacher of the Year Award from the American String Teacher’s Association (ASTA). He also holds the Distinguished Achievement Award (1995) from the International Society of Bassists (ISB). Gary Karr participated in the Bi-Annual Rainforest Concert in Carnegie Hall with fellow-bassist Sting, Stevie Wonder and others in 1997. In 1999 a new book by Claude Kenneson, entitled Musical Prodigies — Perilous Journeys, Remarkable Lives was released by Amadeus Press, which includes a passage describing Karr’s early love affair with the doublebass.
In June 2001, Gary Karr played his farewell public concert as part of the International Society of Bassists 2001 Convention in Indianapolis. A large audience that included eight hundred bassists from twenty-seven different countries attended this event. At the close of this recital with his pianist, Harmon Lewis, Karr was given the ISB’s Distinguished Teacher Award. He was also presented with a very special gift from more than two hundred of his colleagues and fans…a newly developed rose named in his honor to commemorate his forty years on the international concert stage.