Here is a great, contemplative shot of Dave Arenius playing the double bass:
While poking around online looking for biographical information about Michael Hovnanian for our Contrabass Conversations interview, I stumbled upon one of the most bizarre blogs I have ever seen. The title of the blog is:
This blog has to be a joke, right? What would possess someone to start a blog with the sole purpose of criticizing another bass player’s fingerings? This is a very funny blog that just has to be some sort of inside joke that I am not getting. The author goes by the handle ‘Angry Bassist’. His ‘About Me’ description reads:
Never mind who I am. I’m an angry bassist. Angry with Mike Hovnanian for the fingerings he publishes at his CSO Bass Blog.
The strangest thing is that Michael’s fingerings are great! He is the last bass player in the world that I would expect to have his fingering criticized. In fact, most bassists who have gotten to know Michael view his fingerings as an example of highly enlightened double bass navigation.
The premise of this blog has been making me laugh since I first saw it. In fact, I couldn’t stop giggling during this week’s set of Elgin Symphony concerts thinking about this blog. There is also all of this talk about The Phantom, a comic strip that appears in many newspapers.
The Phantom and angry rants about Michael’s fingerings. How can you not check out this blog?
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra (of which I am a long-time member) was recently featured in a great extended article on the orchestral musician forum Polyphonic.org. The piece starts with some introductory information about the Elgin Symphony, and how, despite their (relatively) small budget, they are making big plans while being fiscally responsible:
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra is a relatively small (their budget is about $3 million) suburban orchestra northwest of Chicago, yet they recently made a Copland recording for Naxos, the city of Elgin plans to build them a new hall, and they consistently operate with balanced budgets. What makes them so successful? The ESO appears to have been able to define who they are and what works for them, and to stick to that model, despite industry trends in different directions.
The article goes on to highlight the recent increase in services and musician pay, and it points out the the orchestra has become the highest paid orchestral ensemble in Illinois outside the city of Chicago:
In the late 1990s the ESO held an endowment drive whose primary purpose was to raise the pay offered to their musicians; they were successful and became Illinois’ highest paid orchestra outside of Chicago. Consequently, many free-lance musicians living in Chicago are attracted to the Elgin Symphony – some have even settled in Elgin – and the ESO has reached a new level of musical excellence.
This orchestra has certainly become more of a draw for top freelance musicians during my time in the ensemble. The quality of the concerts keeps getting better every year, and it is exciting to be a member of this organization!
Check out the full Polyphonic.org article here–it’s a great read.
Here’s a recent shot of the Elgin Symphony bass section. The players are (left to right): John Floeter, Jason Heath, Scott Rosenthal, Susan Sullivan, Kate Nettleman, Tim Shaffer.
Double bassist John Floeter recently started a blog. John is on the bass faculty for Northern Illinois University, and he plays bass for the Grant Park Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, Lake Forest Symphony, and many other Chicagoland ensembles. John is also my stand partner for the Elgin Symphony, and he plays bass for the Chicago Bass Ensemble along with Michael Hovnanian (Chicago Symphony, CSO Bass Blog, Contrabass Conversations guest), Doug Johnson (Contrabass Conversations guest, Gunnelpumpers member), and group founder Jacque Harper. John will probably be putting up some educational resources (MP3s, scales, exercises) on his blog in the future, and I’ll let readers know as material becomes available.
I will be doing a future Contrabass Conversations episode featuring the Chicago Bass Ensemble, so you will get to hear these four fine bass players in action on the podcast. This will probably happen during the summer, so stay tuned to the show and the blog for more details!
You can visit John’s blog here. I also put a link to it under ‘bass blogs’ in the sidebar of this blog.