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What an amazing week we all had at the 2017 Golden Gate Bass Camp! Where to even begin?
A History of the Golden Gate Bass Camp
This camp was founded by Barry Green when he moved to the Bay Area in the 1990s, and it has continued to evolve over the years. It was located in the North Bay and East Bay before its present location at the Drew School in San Francisco.
He decided to change that.
After ten years of steady growth, UTRGV has become a recognized double bass powerhouse, with world-class college bass students. His work has also created a vibrant double bass community throughout the Rio Grande Valley, with over 100 bass players enrolling each year for ¡Viva el Bajo!
It was an honor for me to be a clinician for this special 10th anniversary festival! In addition to bringing back Jeff Bradetich for this year’s event, George invited the following double bass clinicians:
- Lloyd Goldstein – certified music practitioner at Moffitt Cancer Center
- Carlos Gaviria – Stephen F. Austin State University
- David Dawson – Texas State University
- Alex Ritter – Federal University of Rio Grandee do Sul
- Mark Morton – Texas Tech University
- Jack Unzicker – University of Texas Arlington
These double bass clinicians were joined by Rebecca Coberly (UTRGV voice professor), Janice Fehlauer (Kingwood Music School), and Martha Walvoord (UT Arlington violin professor).
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked into the new Performing Arts Complex of the UTRGV School of Music. Completed in 2015, this facility offers an acoustically fabulous 1000-seat concert hall, four large rehearsal halls, and much more. It is one of the nicest music facilities I’ve ever laid eyes on, and it was an outstanding venue for this event.
Diving into the Festival
Here’s my personal highlight reel from the 2017 festival!
Thursday, May 18
Thursday was filled with pre-festival events prior to the official start of the event on Friday.
I joined George Amorim and Lloyd Goldstein Thursday morning as Lloyd played in the lobby of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. Lloyd’s work as a certified music practitioner is both moving and inspiring, and it was wonderful to watch him in his element. Hearing the double bass reverberate down the halls and watching the eyes of people in the lobby light up as they heard this great playing was a real treat.
Here’s a short clip (excuse the shakiness–too much coffee on my part!) of Lloyd playing one of his excellent compositions in the lobby:
Later that afternoon, I did a presentation on one of my favorite topics: Music and Business. I covered a wide range of topics, including my exploding car story. Skip ahead a couple minutes if you’re familiar with that bizarre tale:
The night wrapped up with a Bach Showcase Concert featuring the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Bach Cello Suites performed by UTRGV students Andres Vela, Daniel Morehead, and Gabriel Preusse. These there students are joined by George to form the UTRGV Bass Quartet, which will be performing at the 2017 International Society of Bassists Convention in Ithaca, New York in a few short weeks.
Friday, May 19
Young bassists began streaming into the PAC bright and early on Friday and were outfitted with music, badges, folders, and schedules. They assembled into All-Region and All-State classes led by Mark Morton and David Dawson.
Alex Ritter also presented a fascinating class on articulation that morning, delving into the specific terminology and technique between legato, staccato, spiccato, and every imaginable variant.
This well-organized look at articulation filled me with fuel for many months of upcoming lessons with my own students.
The young bassists spent the afternoon working on bass ensemble music. Lloyd Goldstein also presented a lecture/demonstration describing his work in the Arts in Medicine program at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida.
The Opening Night Gala featured a performance by Jeff Bradetich. Hearing Jeff play took me back to all those times in high school that I spent listening over and over to Jeff’s solo albums. What a player!
Jeff was joined by Janice Fehlauer (piano), Rebecca Coberly (soprano), Jack Unzicker, and George Amorim in this wonderful program:
- Sonata No. 2 in g, Op. 5 No. 2 – Beethoven
- Chopin Terzetto – Tutto il Mondo Serra – Bottesini
- Prelude, from Five Pieces for two violins and piano – Shostakovich
- Schloemo – Bloch
- Beret, Beurre and Cornichorns – Viret
- Czardas – Monti
Here’s a shot of Jeff performing with Jack Unzicker and George Amorim during the recital:
More about Jeff
The Second International Bradetich Solo Competition will be taking place this September. Jeff and I did an interview about it earlier this year, and I’ll be covering the event as well. Look forward to learning more about this great event soon!
I also recently interviewed Artem Chirkov, the winner of the first Bradetich Competition. If you’d like to hear Artem sing a song about Texas (and you really must hear that), check out that interview!
We were also treated to some fantastic South Texas Mexican food plus a Mariachi performance that put a smile on all of our faces.
Saturday, May 20
Saturday was filled with great master classes and performances. Mark Morton, Jeff Bradetich, and Jack Unzicker, Lloyd Goldstein, David Dawson, Carlos Gaviria, and I all presented master classes. Seeing my friends and colleagues teach is the best way to fill my teaching tank with fuel for the next several months of lesson ideas!
Mark Morton played a monster recital consisting of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Bach Cello Suites. These were performed masterfully, filling the large hall with the rich tones of his Italian solo bass. I honestly don’t know how he was able to play all three of these suites in a row—I was exhausted just watching from the audience!
Many of George’s students performed selections from Bottesini for an afternoon recital, which was a real treat as well. Here’s who played what:
- Elegy – John Hunter
- Reverie – Gabe Ramon
- Introduzione e Gavotta – Sofia Leal DeLeon
- Nel cor pui non mi sento – Gabriel Preusse
- Bolero – Diego Garza
- Capriccio di Bravura – Daniel Morehead
- Fantasia on Themes from ‘La Sonnambula’ – Andres Vela
¡Viva el Bajo! LIVE
The evening event was a new direction for the festival. I hosted ¡Viva el Bajo! LIVE, a talk show featuring performances and interviews with clinicians and students.
Check out the video below to see:
- the UTRGV Bass Quartet play two great selections
- me trying unsuccessfully to get George’s students to say something embarrassing
- Lloyd performing and talking about his work in the Moffitt Cancer Center
- Jeff Bradetich reflecting on the state of the double bass
- Jack Unzicker talking about growing up in Alaska and starting the bass while in college
- Mark Morton discussing growing up in Texas, writing his method books, and how playing the piano helps him
This was so much fun!
Sunday, May 21
The festival wrapped up with master classes from Alex Ritter, Jeff Bradetich, and Mark Morton plus a stellar recital from Jack Unzicker and Martha Walvoord.
Jack and Martha are in the middle of commissioning a large number of violin and bass duets from various composers. Sunday’s recital featured new works from George Have, Tom Knific, and Michael Daugherty. All three are fantastic new contributions to the repertoire.
Past Podcast Guests
More Upcoming Performances from these Artists
Jack and Martha will be featured in a few weeks at ISB 2017, as will the UTRGV Bass Quartet and many of the other clinicians from ¡Viva el Bajo! 2017.
I am honored to have been a part of this great event. Given all the great things happening at UTRGV, the future of double bass in South Texas is in good hands!
Contrabass Conversations has a new headquarters! After a hilariously challenging search, we landed a great pad along the waterfront in San Francisco. Here’s a view down the block:
OK–here’s the latest in the world of the bass:
Every time I open up Facebook I find an announcement about a fellow bassist landing a sweet gig! Congratulations to the following fine folks for their recent successes:
- Drew Banzhaf – 1-year position with the Baltimore Symphony
- Scott Worthington – principal bass of the Redlands Symphony and the artist teacher of bass at the University of Redlands
- Nick Adams – Civic Orchestra of Chicago
If you enjoy following along with recent audition winners, you’ll love this week’s podcast series focused on auditioning. We featured interviews with three recent audition winners:
- Jon McCullough-Benner – Milwaukee Symphony
- Tim Dilenschneider – Baltimore Symphony
- Andrew Pedersen – Houston Symphony
We’ll wrap up Audition Week with an episode featuring highlights from recent audition-related episodes. All the audiiton episodes we put out since the release of Winning the Audition will be featured. You can get this highlight episode and all our other podcasts by subscribing to the podcast or downloading our free app!
The Kansas City Bass Workshop and KC BassFest 2017 proudly welcome the return of world-renowned bass virtuoso and educator, François Rabbath June 13-18, 2017. Rabbath’s son, pianist Sylvain Rabbath accompanies him once again. We are delighted they will perform at Grace and Holy Trinity Church in downtown KCMO.
In addition to featuring KC BassFest organizer Johnny Hamil on the podcast, we’ve had several of the other workshop clinicians as guests:
Ira Gold’s Orchestral Bass Workshop will be returning this August 26-27. Here’s a bit about the event:
Last year, we focused on the bow strokes that are critical to success in orchestral playing, and this year we’re widening our focus to include both technical and musical elements of a career on the double bass.
The Workshop is taught by its founder, National Symphony Orchestra bassist Ira Gold, who holds a faculty position at the Peabody Conservatory and delivers classes around the country on solo and orchestral playing. Also featured this year will be Brent Edmondson, a frequent substitute bass player with the Philadelphia Orchestra and recent winner of the Annapolis Symphony Associate Principal position.
Ira has been a guest several times on the podcast and also wrote the foreword for my book Winning the Audition. I also had Brent as a guest on the podcast back in 2015, and I interviewed Wesley Thompson about Bass Works, another summer event in which Ira is involved.
- Heather Miller Lardin – early music specialist and Bass World Rumblings editor
- Joey Naeger on fingerboard geography
- Allegra Hale on the ISB convention app
- What to see at ISB – a highlight episode of many of the people presenting at the 2017 convention
- Contrabass Conversations named top 10 classical music podcast
- ISB member wins the 2017 Stulberg Competition
- how to take musical risks in auditions without going too far – with former podcast guest Rob Knopper and San Francisco Symphony principal percussionist Jake Nissly
- Barry Lieberman and Friends Recital: Catalin Rotaru, double bass on May 20
- former podcast guest Gjorgji Cincievski will be holding a masterclasses and recital at the Associazione “Amici della Musica” di Giardini Naxos – August 21-23
- check out this cool performance from former podcast guest Andres Martin
- New York Philharmonic bassist and former podcast guest David Grossman is NY Phil’s On the Cover musician for May!
- Why I Gave Up On Hating My Playing – great jazz-focused mindset article
- double bass airline damage agony from Dan Turkos
Share Your News Here!
Got an event coming up or a story to share? Send me an email and let me know!