I love the International Society of Bassists and post about them a lot.

CBC 226: ISB 2017 Convention Preview

ISB 2017 Preview 300 x 300This is a special episode featuring International Society of Bassists 2017 Convention Chair and Artistic Director Nicholas Walker discussing plans for the upcoming convention.  This 50th anniversary convention looks like it will be outstanding, with several new developments unique to this event.  Enjoy!

International Society of Bassists 2017 Convention
June 5-10 at Ithaca College, New York

Other ISB-related interviews you may enjoy include:

CBC 225: Nicholas Walker on musical influences, performing, and Domaine Forget

Ithaca College professor and International Society of Bassists president Nicholas Walker

Ithaca College professor and International Society of Bassists president Nicholas Walker

Today’s episode features Ithaca College professor and International Society of Bassists 2017 Convention Chair and Artistic Director Nicholas Walker. In addition to teaching at Ithaca College, Nicholas performs over 170 concerts a year in a wide variety of musical genres, he is a prolific composer, and he has taught for many years along with Paul Ellison and François Rabbath at Domaine Forget in Quebec.  Nicholas will be hosting the 2017 ISB Convention at Ithaca College next June 5-10.

We talk about his early musical influences, his experiences working with Paul Ellison and François Rabbath, balancing performing with other activities, and the Ithaca double bass experience.  We also go into great detail about a day in the life of a student at Domain Forget, which is a topic that we talked about with David Allen Moore back on episode 162 of the podcast.

We also feature several musical excerpts from Nicholas, starting with excerpt of a tune with singer songwriter Tenzin Chopak called “Just Don’t Go.”  We’ll also play a few excerpts of some of Nicholas’ solo bass compositions, and you can find complete recordings on his YouTube channel.  Enjoy!

Musical Excerpts:

Interview Highlights

Background and Early Years

  • started on piano, picked up bass in 4th grade, playing jazz early on and music with friends in addition to the public school
  • started taking lessons with Duane Rosengard, who was a student at Eastman at the time
  • played in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
  • studying with Mark Foley
  • with many of the people surrounding Nicholas, there wasn’t a big distinction between jazz and classical playing – it was all part of musical life for him

Working with Paul Ellison

  • moving to Houston and meeting Paul Ellison
  • Paul’s teaching style
  • the Domaine Forget double bass experience
  • Buddhist philosophy – any student who shows up has earned the right to learn
  • Paul’s comfort moving from student to teacher role

Working with François Rabbath

  • the right time to hear something from a teacher
  • how, exactly, can he help each particular person
  • his first experience meeting François

A Day in the Life at Domaine Forget

  • put the bass players in a barn and let them work
  • get up early
  • 8:30 am – all meet together – 25 students plus the two teachers
  • bodywork and 90 minute workout together
    • Stretching
    • Yoga
    • Feldenkrais Method
    • Alexander Technique
    • Pilates
  • bass workout together – all done by ear and by rote – no music stands – working together in a big circle
    • shifting exercises
    • bowing exercises
    • specific left hand techniques
    • hand frames
    • drop thumb
    • expansion
    • pivoting
    • hammer on / pull off
    • fingering patterns
    • etudes
  • at the end of the two weeks, they have a 90 minute routine that they do together without stopping – one exercise after another
  • all this material comes from meeting with all the students the first night and asking them their goals for the camp
  • 10 am – break followed by two hours of lessons
  • lunch
  • 1:30 pm – back in the barn for another 90 minute class with the senior faculty member
    • Paul does a lot of stroke work and body awareness
    • opportunity to introduce concepts like balance, arm weight, anything that came up in prior master classes
    • everything from the simplest open string playing to more complex bow bouncing, forward/reverse curve
  • 3:00 pm – master class
  • evening – concerts with notable visiting artists, bass recital, public master classes

The Double Bass Program at Ithaca

  • largely modeled on the way Domaine Forget operates
  • one of the nation’s oldest conservatories – Sevcik and Rachmaninoff were both on faculty
  • group classes for technique, orchestra rep, studio class in addition to lessons
  • alternative lesson approaches in addition to traditional one-on-one lessons

Performing, Teaching, and Composing

  • finding balance (or not finding balance)
  • being at peace with the choices you make
  • 170-180 concerts a year
  • the concerts and individual practice are where the “important stuff” happens

Jerry Fuller wins ISB Award for Historically Informed Performance

Jerry Fuller and Alex Hanna

Jerry Fuller receiving the award from CSO principal bassist Alex Hanna

Chicago-based double bassist Jerry Fuller has just won the International Society of Bassists Special Recognition Award for Historically Informed Performance.  Jerry and I have been friends and colleagues for many years.  Jerry is quite active in the early music scene in Chicago and runs Ars Antigua (they’ve done many podcasts over the years).  He even interviewed me back in 2008.

More info from the ISB:

Every two years the International Society of Bassists gives a Special Recognition Award for Historically Informed Performance to a bassist who has demonstrated and achieved the highest level of excellence in historically informed performance. The 2015 honoree is Jerry Fuller.Jerry began studying the double bass at age 16 and was invited to join the Lyric Opera of Chicago orchestra three years later. Within two years he was promoted to Assistant Principal of the double bass section in addition to performing with the Santa Fe Opera. Jerry has also served as Principal Bassist of The Musikkollegium Winterthur Switzerland. While in Europe, Mr. Fuller became interested in historically-informed performance practice and has achieved international recognition for his work with period instruments. A Chicago Artists Abroad grant recipient, his performances in London, Rome, Geneva and Edinburgh have been broadcast worldwide. In addition, Jerry has performed at the Ravinia and the Aspen Music Festivals as well as both the Boston and the Berkeley Early Music Festivals.

Jerry has appeared as a guest artist with the American Bach Soloists of San Francisco, the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston and the Newberry Consort of Chicago. In 2009 he was awarded the Early Music America Outreach Award for Excellence in Early Music Education.

Jerry currently performs with the Chicago-based Haymarket Opera Company which specializes in the performance of opera from the 17th and 18th centuries. He is also director of the period instrument ensemble Ars Antigua that has recently recorded all of the Vivaldi viola d’amore concerti with soloist Rachel Barton Pine.

Congratulations, Jerry–that’s great news!

Follow bass-related events worldwide with this nifty calendar

ISB website

The home page of the greatly-enhanced ISB website.

It really is impressive to see how the website for the International Society of Bassists has been enhanced in the last couple of years.  If you haven’t been there recently, definitely take a look.  They have also greatly expanded their presence on both Twitter and Facebook.  I remember starting both of these pages for the organization about six years ago in my role as board member, and it is really remarkable how well the organization has built up its online presence since that time.

One of the features that I most appreciate on the ISB website is the Daily Dose of Double Bass Calendar.  This page contains events from around the world pertaining to double bass (recitals, concerts, workshops, lectures, club meetings, competitions, conferences, and other double bass-related events, according to the website), and it also has an online form to submit your own event.  Very cool and very useful!