About the Contributors
Paul Ellison serves as the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Double Bass and co-chair of the string department at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, which he joined in 1974. He has held positions as Principal Bass of the Houston Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Grand Teton Music Festival, and Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, with whom he continues to perform regularly after more than 50 seasons. He appears frequently with ensembles featuring historically-informed performance practice, on his original instruments of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Paul is the first to have received both performance and teaching certificates from Institut International Rabbath, Paris, in 1991. He makes regular teaching visits to the University of Southern California, where he was formerly Professor and string department chair, the Yehudi Menuhin School, The Royal College of Music, Sarasota Music Festival, Texas Music Festival, and Academie Domaine Forget (Quebec, Canada). Paul is a past president of the International Society of Bassists.
His wife Elisabeth is a double bassist, and his students hold positions as teachers and performers at universities and orchestras around the globe.
My Connection to Paul
Paul was my teacher in Houston after I moved here in 1992, and remains my mentor and inspiration. I’m blessed to play alongside him regularly in the Houston Grand Opera orchestra, and to hear him play in any number of professional organizations in the music scene around Houston. He welcomed me into his studio after I heard his students play with an endurance and facility that I had never seen. I approached him and asked “how are these kids doing these things???”, and he invited me to learn. He remains a model of a top performer, lifelong learner and giving human being.
Gary Karr, acclaimed as "the world's leading solo bassist" (Time Magazine), is, in fact, the first solo doublebassist in history to make that pursuit a full-time career. It is a career that adds new lustre to his already lustrous 1611 Amati doublebass which was given to him by the widow of Serge Koussevitzky.
Since his debut with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in 1962, Karr has performed as soloist on six continents with orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, Simon Bolivar Orchestra (Caracas, Venezuela), Jerusalem Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, and with all the major orchestras of Australia.
On Italian cable, three Karr doublebass recitals reached 20 million classical music lovers. The numerous CDs that Gary Karr has recorded and released in Japan are "top of the recording charts" favorites in the Far East. The BBC has featured two video films of Karr, one an illumination of his life and music (Amazing Bass) and one a series for children. On his third recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, Karr performed the Concerto for Bass by John Downey. CBS Sunday Morning celebrated Gary Karr's career and the University of Wisconsin has released a video demonstrating his instructional approach to the doublebass (BASSically Karr) in addition to a special video concert for children (Karrtunes).
One of Karr's proudest achievements is the Bronze Medal he received from the Rosa Ponselle Foundation which recognizes him as an outstanding lyrical musician. Gary is the proud holder of the 1997 Artist/Teacher of the Year Award from the American String Teacher's Association (ASTA). He also holds the Distinguished Achievement Award (1995) from the International Society of Bassists (ISB). Gary Karr participated in the Bi-Annual Rainforest Concert in Carnegie Hall with fellow-bassist Sting, Stevie Wonder and others in 1997. In 1999 a new book by Claude Kenneson, entitled Musical Prodigies -- Perilous Journeys, Remarkable Lives was released by Amadeus Press, which includes a passage describing Karr's early love affair with the doublebass.
In June 2001, Gary Karr played his farewell public concert as part of the International Society of Bassists 2001 Convention in Indianapolis. A large audience that included eight hundred bassists from twenty-seven different countries attended this event. At the close of this recital with his pianist, Harmon Lewis, Karr was given the ISB's Distinguished Teacher Award. He was also presented with a very special gift from more than two hundred of his colleagues and fans…a newly developed rose named in his honor to commemorate his forty years on the international concert stage.
My Connection to Gary
Like the rest of the bass world, I grew up listening to Gary’s records, dreaming of making those sounds! I grew up in Kansas City, and while I was at Baylor, I had the privilege of meeting Gary when he performed with the Waco symphony. Gary always tried to set up a teaching class at a local school anytime he performed with a major symphony – that was his call to purpose – to always be teaching. What a perfect model for musicians! After I played for him, he encouraged me to enter his Karr Foundation competition for a chance to win a bass on loan, which I won 5 months later. It was the loan of that bass that made it possible for me to go to graduate school and win my first two jobs. I’m forever grateful for his mission of education, philanthropy, community and the highest musical standard.
Maximilian Dimoff is the principal bass of The Cleveland Orchestra and associate professor of double bass at the University of Michigan. Mr. Dimoff's career began in 1990 with being appointed assistant principal bass with the San Antonio Symphony while still a student. He was soon thereafter promoted to the principal position. In 1992, Mr. Dimoff became a member of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra in Chicago and a year later moved back to his hometown to join the Seattle Symphony. Since joining the Cleveland Orchestra as principal bass in 1997, he has appeared as soloist with the Orchestra at Severance Hall and the Blossom Music Center, as well as on tour at Carnegie Hall and in Europe.
Mr. Dimoff joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2017 after serving for seventeen years as head of the double bass department at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is also a coach and faculty member with The National Orchestral Institute and the New World Symphony.
Maximilian Dimoff studied with Jeff Bradetich while attending Northwestern University. Other influential teachers include Warren Benfield of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Gary Karr, Eugene Levinson of the New York Philharmonic, and Ronald Simon of the Seattle Symphony. Mr. Dimoff performs on a double bass dated to 1651, made by the Italian maker Antonio Mariani.
My Connection to Max
Max was my classmate during my graduate studies at Northwestern University, my roommate at Aspen, and the reason I almost quit the bass after my 2nd week at school. He was the first “perfect” bassist I had ever met, with perfect pitch and rhythm, a perfect left hand, and excelled at both classical and jazz. I had always played classical and jazz, but Max made me feel like I was moving in slow motion. I learned the importance of self-discipline, efficient practice and technique from Max. He still has the same practice routine today as principal bass of the Cleveland Orchestra that he had in Chicago, which is inspiring to me.
Dr. Mark Whitney
Dr. Mark Whitney has been a member of the WSO double bass section since 1985. He has been the program annotator since 1994 and the personnel manager since 2008. For several seasons he delivered the “Opening Notes” lectures prior to concerts. Dr. Whitney is manager of publication services at the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD), a national nonprofit organization in Waco. He holds degrees from the University of the South, Ohio University, and West Virginia University. Along with his wife Susan, a violinist and violist, he is an instructor at the Central Texas String Academy, where he teaches classical guitar, double bass, and beginning cello. He and Susan have three children, Paul, Ellen, and Philip, and two grandsons, Austin and Asher.
My Connection to Mark
Mark was my teacher at Baylor University during my undergraduate years, and is still a dear friend. He filled my lessons with rock-solid playing, proven technical exercises, and a dry humor that still leaves me chuckling today. I remember our lessons fondly, and how he encouraged me to be involved in campus live, community life, and life in general. Mark is still active in the Waco symphony, and it gives me joy to see him when I drive through.
Proclaimed by the New York Times as "the master of his instrument," Jeff Bradetich is regarded as one of the leading performers and teachers of the double bass in the United States today. Since his New York debut in Carnegie Recital Hall in 1982 he has performed more than 600 concerts on five continents including his London debut in Wigmore Hall in 1986. He has won many major solo competitions, recorded six solo albums of music for double bass and piano and has been featured on radio and television throughout North and South America and Europe including CBS, CNN, BBC and NPR.
He gave his professional concerto debut at the age of 16 and was appointed to the orchestra of the Lyric Opera of Chicago by age 19. Mr. Bradetich began his study of the bass at age 10 in the school orchestra program in Eugene, OR studying with Royce Lewis and Dr. Robert Hladky before studying at Northwestern University with Warren Benfield and Joseph Guastafeste where he earned both bachelor's and master's degrees. Other major musical influences include performing for ten seasons at the Oregon Bach Festival with Helmuth Rilling, one of the world’s leading Bach authorities, and summer study with Gary Karr and many of the leading double bass pedagogues in the United States.
In addition to being an active lecturer and clinician, Mr. Bradetich has transcribed more than 100 solo works. He has produced both intermediate and advanced level instructional videos and a DVD recording of the first Bach cello suite and BB Wolf by Jon Deak. He has given more than one thousand master classes throughout the world including annual week-long workshops on three continents. He served as Executive Director of the International Society of Bassists from 1982-1990 and editor of its magazine for 6 years.
Jeff Bradetich has taught on the faculties of the University of Michigan and Northwestern University prior to his 1994 appointment as director of the largest double bass program in the world at the University of North Texas. His students hold positions in major orchestras on five continents and occupy many important teaching and leadership positions throughout the profession.
Mr. Bradetich has recently established the Bradetich Foundation for the advancement of the double bass. The Foundation hosted the 2010 International Double Bass Solo Competition with the largest prizes in double bass history. Complete information is available at: www.bradetichfoundation.org
His new book Double Bass: The Ultimate Challenge on pedagogy and performance on the bass, was released in June 2009 by Music For All To Hear, Inc. www.musicforalltohear.com
My Connection to Jeff
Jeff was my teacher during my Graduate studies at Northwestern University. The first time I heard him wasn’t at a formal recital or symphony concert, but at a nursing home. I travelled to Chicago to have a lesson with him when I was choosing my graduate school, and he invited me to his evening concert there. I saw him play “popular” songs that he had arranged, and after the concert, stay and connect with the people in attendance in a meaninigful, memorable way. I could instantly see that his mission wasn’t about the bass, but about using the bass as a tool to connect with people through music, and knew immediately that that’s where I wanted to go.
A professional bass luthier in the Houston area, Joey Naeger repairs, sets up, and makes basses for players in the Houston area and beyond. A bassist himself, Joey also performs throughout the
Houston area. His interest in the bass began when his seventh grade orchestra director recognized that as a tall and lanky middle schooler, his talents would be better used on the bass than the violin. It was during a summer bass camp that bass luthier Jim Ham gave the presentation that sparked his interest in instrument construction and restoration. While studying bass with Dennis Whittaker at the University of Houston, Joey was offered a position as a bass setup specialist at the Lisle Violin Shop. Working at Lisle, he has set up and repaired hundreds of double basses. Joey continually strives to improve his skills as a luthier by attending workshops such as the Oberlin Bass Maker’s Workshop and the Rodney Mohr Bow Rehair workshop. He has studied with a number of luthiers including Dorian Barnes, Arnold Schnitzer, and Raymond Schryer. Joey uses his experience as a performer to inform and improve his luthier work. He received a workmanship award for one of his basses at the 2016 VSA competition. He currently lives in Katy, Texas with his wife Hope Cowan and cat.
As a maker, Joey strives to build beautiful, classically styled basses that serve the needs of contemporary bassists. Utilizing both modern CAD software and renaissance drafting technique, Joey makes original models for his basses inspired by the classic beauty of Cremonese violin making. On the repair side, Joey is committed to working one on one with players to optimize the sound and playability of their instrument.
My Connection to Joey
Joey was a student at the University of Houston. In his first lesson, I asked him his goals, and he calmly stated “I’m going to be a luthier”. I never doubted him for a second. He demonstrated a high aptitude for it from the first day. 30 minutes before a jury his junior year, his bass fell over and his neck snapped right off. So he played (excellently) on a borrowed bass, took the shattered instrument home, and rebuilt it. When I needed a new fingerboard and a soundpost reset, I had no problem handing him my Star Wars bass. He handled it like a pro, and I, along with many members of the professional community, have continued to trust Joey with their career instruments.