F103 | The History and Development of the Classical Double Bass in Orchestral and Solo Settings | Edwin Barker


1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Hybrid: For those attending in-person, the first three sessions will be at Zion Lutheran in Pittsfield, the final class will be a live Double Bass recital at Lenox Memorial Middle & High School. All sessions will be live via Zoom.

6/9, 6/16, 6/23, 6/30

Four Sessions

The Double Bass, often considered the "backbone" of the orchestra, is known for its role in establishing the harmonic and rhythmic foundation of the ensemble. This course will explore the bass' soloist role as a sonorous, lyrical and expressive musical instrument. These four classes will transport you from the origins of the double bass' role in ensemble playing through the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary eras. It will culminate in a discussion of its less-known role as a solo instrument. The art of playing the bass, encompasses bowing techniques, postural challenges, and an understanding of musical styles which will give insights into some "behind the scenes secrets" that can turn a series of notes on a page into a magical experience, indefinable by words alone. The course will include recordings of bass virtuosi from different eras, as well as live demonstrations on the bass of the musical skills discussed by Edwin Barker. The final class will be a live Double Bass recital.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Principal Bassist Edwin Barker has concertized in North America, Europe, and Asia. Recognized as an accomplished soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral bassist, he has performed and recorded with many ensembles including the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. Mr. Barker graduated with honors in 1976 from the New England Conservatory, where he studied double bass with Henry Portnoi. That same year, at age twenty-two, he was appointed principal double bass of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. As a soloist on the double bass Mr. Barker inaugurated the BSO’s 100th Anniversary Season with performances of Koussevitzky’s "Bass Concerto," and in 2007 premiered the Harbison "Concerto for Bass Viol" at Tanglewood. He has also appeared as soloist with the Pro Arte Orchestra, the Athens State Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston, Tanglewood, and Europe. Mr. Barker is an Associate Professor Emeritus at the Boston University College of Fine Arts, where he teaches Double Bass studio lessons, orchestral techniques, and chamber music. His other major teaching affiliation is with the BSO’s Tanglewood Music Center, where he was Chairman of Instrumental and Orchestral Studies from 2004 to 2012. His solo and chamber CDs include “Three Sonatas for Double Bass” on Boston Records; James Yannatos’ “Variations for Solo Contrabass,” on Troy Records, and “Concerti for Double Bass,” on GM Recordings. Recently recorded performances consist of Fred Lerdahl’s “Fire and Ice,” on Bridge Records, the "Concerto for Bass Viol and Orchestra (Boston Modern Orchestra Project)" by John Harbison, and numerous recordings with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, including Henri Dutilleux’s “Les Citations,” on BSO Classics, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2012. Barker's recording of unaccompanied solo bass works by Weinberg and J.S. Bach will be released later this year.

Are you a current high school or college music student who would like to participate in this class? You can register without formally joining OLLI at BCC. Just call 413-236-2190 to sign up.

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