12 Colleges Producing Audition-Winning Double Bassists

While there are many excellent places to study bass, these 12 schools have sent the most bassists into American orchestras in recent years.

With Jason Heath · San Francisco, CA

The are so many ways to rank schools:

  • Cost
  • Location
  • School size
  • Financial aid

The list goes on and on.

Making it into a full-time orchestra position is a goal for many bassists.  This isn’t an easy path.  e to win an audition for a professional orchestra.  I know–I interview them all the time for my podcast.

Interestingly, most of these audition winners attend a select handful of schools.

In fact, audition winners frequently attend one of these schools for their BM and another for their MM or performance certificate.

Before diving in, I recommend questioning whether this narrowly defined goal of winning an orchestra audition is, in fact, the best goal.

This path is tough on you physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It’s a hard road with a very uncertain future, and a tremendous number of musicians have a great life with stable finances creating their own projects.

Also, many players from these schools listed below go on to do all kinds of cool things outside of the traditional orchestral path:

  1. Paul Cannon studied at Rice University and is now playing the coolest projects ever with Ensemble Modern.
  2. Nicholas Walker studied at Rice as well, and he’s doing amazing things at Ithaca College and leading the International Society of Bassists into their next half-century of greatness.

Check out my conversations with David Heyes, Emilio Guarino, and Seth Hanes for more examples of how to a vibrant career in music and find your own path.

But I digress… you’re here to see the list of 12 schools that are landing people the most gigs!

Here’s the list in order of number of auditions won by graduates.

This is compiled in part compiled from a highly-useful wiki on TalkBass, and details about each school are listed below the map.

1. Rice University

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 47
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Paul Ellison and Timothy Pitts

2. Indiana University

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 46
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Jeff Turner and Kurt Muroki

3. Curtis Institute of Music

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 32
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Hal Robinson

4. The Juilliard School

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 26
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Tim Cobb, Albert Laszlo, and Eugene Levinson

5. Boston University

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 21
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Ed Barker

6. Peabody Conservatory

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 17
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Ira Gold, Paul Johnson, and Jeff Weisner

7. University of North Texas

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 15
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Jeff Bradetich

8. University of Southern California

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 14
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: David Allen Moore

9. Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 11
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Owen Lee and Rachel Calin

10. New England Conservatory

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 9
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Pascale Delache-Feldman, Lawrence Wolfe, James Orleans, Donald Palma, and Todd Seeber

11. The Colburn School

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 9
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Peter Lloyd
  • When you are admitted into the conservatory, you will receive a full scholarship and free room and board. (learn more)

12. Manhattan School of Music

  • number of audition winners since 1998: 9
  • Orchestral Bass Faculty: Orin O’Brien, Jeremy McCoy, Timothy Cobb, David Grossman

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