- Robert Oppelt
- Richard Barber
- Anthony Manzo
- US News Ranking: #60 (tie) in National Universities
- US News Overall Score (out of 100): 59
- In-State Tuition & Fees 2016-17: $10,181
- Out-of-State Tuition & Fees 2016-17: $32,045
- Room & Board 2016-17: $11,758
- Total Enrollment: 38,140
- Acceptance Rate (from 2015): 45%
- Student – Faculty Ratio: 16:1
- 4 year graduation rate: 69%
Double Bass Statistics
- Average number of undergraduate bass students: 4 (plus 2 minors)
- Average number of graduate bass students: 3
- From Robert Oppelt: We have Studio Class every week. Four semesters of orchestral repertoire class is required of undergraduates. The three bass teachers (Rick Barber, Tony Manzo, and myself) share the duties of the classes on a rotational basis. Two semesters of chamber music is required. Bass ensemble is certainly an option for chamber music, but we try hard to mix with other instruments. Students are required to attend a weekly Noon Recital where they perform in a more formal setting. They are often offered tickets to National Symphony Orchestra concerts, and the Washington, D.C. area is a cultural capital as well as the Nation’s Capital.
What Alumni are Doing
From Robert Oppelt: We certainly have many graduates “making it” as performers. It’s hard to judge the quality of the training based entirely on whether the students dominate the audition circuit. What’s more important is that the each student is adequately guided to reach their potential. Many of our students have taken a second major or minor to improve their chances of employment upon graduation. (We encourage that.)
One of our students will be a full-tuition fellow at National Orchestral Institute this summer. In the past, we’ve had students win Aspen fellowships. A recent undergrad was accepted to Boston University for MM and has since been awarded a training program with La Scala in Milan, Italy. (At UMD he took a second major in Romance languages!)
A graduate student became Principal Bass at Orquestra Filarmonica de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (He also made the finals in an NSO audition.) Just recently, a DMA student won the competitive diversity fellowship with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in association with the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
About the Bass Faculty
Robert Oppelt is Principal Bass with the National Symphony Orchestra, the resident orchestra of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. With the NSO he has toured throughout the U.S., as well as internationally to The Baltics, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Korea, Macau, the Philippines, Russia, and South America.
Born in Richmond, Kentucky, he began playing the piano and violin as a youngster, then took up the double bass at 15. After two years of study, he won the concerto competition at Brevard Music Center with Dragonetti’s Concerto in A Major, and later was a two-time competition winner at North Carolina School of the Arts, where he was also the recipient of the Vittorio Giannini Memorial Award. Two enchanting summers were spent as a fellowship student at Tanglewood Music Center, the summer home of the illustrious Boston Symphony Orchestra.
In 1982, Mr. Oppelt was invited by the legendary cellist and NSO Music Director Mistislav Rostropovich to join the NSO bass section, becoming the orchestra’s youngest member at age 21. He was promoted to Assistant Principal Bass in 1984 and won his current position of section leader in 1996.
Mr. Oppelt has played concertos with the NSO and other orchestras. He also performs regularly with the Kennedy Center Chamber Players at the Kennedy Center. Other local appearances include the National Academy of Sciences, Library of Congress, Folger Shakespeare Theater, museums of The Smithsonian, and The White House for Presidents George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and Obama.
While he resides in Fairfax, Virginia, he regularly crosses the border to teach at the University of Maryland.
Originally from Chicago, Richard Barber began his musical studies with piano at age seven, adding double bass at age nine. He studied privately with bassists from the Chicago Lyric Opera, and in high school, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Although he had strong interest in science and engineering, Mr. Barber found himself unable to choose any career except music. He attended the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, where he studied with Harold Robinson, currently principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and additionally with Tim Cobb, currently principal bass of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Summers were spent touring Europe with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra. Receiving his degree in three years, he won his first professional orchestral audition two weeks after graduation, and joined the bass section of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. In 1995, after three years in Phoenix, Mr. Barber auditioned for, and was appointed to, the bass section of the National Symphony Orchestra. Seven months later, he was selected at another national audition, and appointed Assistant Principal Bass.
He has performed extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and China with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival Orchestra (Germany), and the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra (Wyoming), under conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Christoph Eschenbach, Sir George Solti, Valery Gergiev, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Kurt Masur, and Ivan Fischer. In Washington, he appears regularly with the 21st Century Consort, the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, and the Fessenden Ensemble.
Mr. Barber was born into a family of musicians and educators. His father performed professionally, while also acting as chairman of the music department of a high school of 5,000 students. His mother taught flute privately and continues to sing professionally. His sister, a teacher, is an avid musician. Mr. Barber plays an Italian instrument made c. 1620 by the Brescian master Giovanni Paolo Maggini. He lives in Maryland with his wife, mezzo-soprano Marta Kirilloff Barber, and their two children.
Anthony Manzo enjoys performing in a broad variety of musical forums – despite the ever-present complications of travel with a double bass! An artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Mr. Manzo is sought-after chamber musician who performs regularly at such noted venues as Lincoln Center in NYC, the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine, and the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In addition, Mr. Manzo is also the Solo Bassist of San Francisco’s New Century Chamber Orchestra, and a regular guest artist with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, and the Smithsonian Chamber Society near his home in Washington DC. Formerly the Solo Bassist of the Munich Chamber Orchestra, he has also been a frequent guest with Camerata Salzburg in Austria, where collaborations have included their summer residency at the Salzburg Festival, as well as two tours as double bass soloist alongside bass/baritone Thomas Quasthoff in Mozart’s “Per questa bella mano” (with performances in Salzburg, Paris, Vienna, Budapest, and Istanbul).
Mr. Manzo is also an active performer on period instruments, with groups including The Handel & Haydn Society of Boston and Opera Lafayette in Washington, DC. Additionally, Mr. Manzo is a member of the double bass and chamber music faculty of the University of Maryland.
Mr. Manzo performs on a double bass made around 1890 by Jerome Thibouville Lamy in Paris (which now has a removable neck for travel!).
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