Golden Gate Bass Camp 2017

Faculty and campers assembled at the Drew School in San Francisco for what was to be an epic week of music making.

With Richard Duke · San Francisco, CA

What an amazing week we all had at the 2017 Golden Gate Bass Camp!  Where to even begin?

A History of the Golden Gate Bass Camp

This camp was founded by Barry Green when he moved to the Bay Area in the 1990s, and it has continued to evolve over the years.  It was located in the North Bay and East Bay before its present location at the Drew School in San Francisco.

Here’s a short retrospective of some highlights from past Golden Gate Bass Camps:

New Offerings for the 2017 Camp

The wonderful electric bassist Michael Manring and California Jazz Conservatory faculty member Jeff Denson were new additions to the Golden Gate Bass Camp faculty this year.  Both of them brought wonderful new perspectives to the event and were a pleasure to work with.

DaXun Zhang and Donovan Stokes joined the faculty this summer was well.  Both are fantastic musicians with unique approaches to the instrument, and it was a pleasure to be on faculty with both of them.

Monday, June 26

Faculty and campers assembled at the Drew School in San Francisco for what was to be an epic week of music making.  Donovan and I led the Bass Orchestra in several selections by Jan Alm and Inez Wyrick.

Charles Chandler and Amos Yang played a wonderful recital of duets for the camp that afternoon.  Both of them are great players and are excellent at connecting with the campers.  This was an inspiring way to start the week!

We broke into small ensembles that afternoon.  Dan Valdez and I had an enthusiastic group of mostly middle school students, and we dove into some of Inez’s arrangements.

Joe Lescher of the San Francisco Opera stopped by later that afternoon to work on opera excerpts with the students.  Jeff Denson worked on improv concepts as well, and Donovan Stokes held an open session for students.

Tuesday, June 27

We began a series of technical warm-ups Tuesday morning, and I had the pleasure of kicking this series off.  I took a lot of what I’ve learned through Gary Karr and Jeff Bradetich and laid it out for the students.  Lots of fun, and hopefully beneficial as well!

Dave Horn, a wonderful bassist and teacher here in the Bay Area, stopped by to work on Brahms 4 with the students.  Dave played in an orchestra in Germany for several years, and he brought a great perspective to this music.

Tuesday night, several of us attended a performance of Rigoletto by the San Francisco Opera.  Joe Lescher, Shinji Eshima, and several of us had the chance to check out the backstage area and also Shinji’s wonderful bass.  This bass was actually depicted in a Degas painting!  

Wednesday, June 28

DaXun Zhang arrived at camp Wednesday morning and was a magical addition to the event.  I’ve known DaXun for years, and it was great to work with him at the 2016 camp as well.  Here’s a clip of DaXun doing warm-ups with the campers.

Joe Lescher was back Wednesday afternoon to perform the famous bass aria (with bass and cello solo) from Rigoletto… with bass ensemble accompaniment!  Expect footage of this great performance soon!

Thursday, June 29

Scott Pingel, principal bassist of the San Francisco Symphony, stopped by to work on orchestral excerpts with students and a string quartet.  This innovative way of present excerpts gives students the feeling of performing in an orchestra–very cool!

The faculty concert that evening was completely amazing.  With selections ranging from an excellent Vanhal Concerto with DaXun and a rocking Cliff Burton solo with Donovan Stokes to a killer trio performance with Jeff Denson and a complex and fascinating soundscape with Michael Manring, this concert ranks as one of my all-time favorite bass concerts!

Here’s a great shot of the crew post-recital:

Friday, June 30

The week was rounded out with a talk on music careers with Donovan Stokes, me, the camp staff, and several students from San Francisco’s School of the Arts.  The SOTA students discussed the experience of auditioning for their school, challenges and unexpected joys of being students their, and much more.  Donovan, the staff, and I talked about the myriad ways that we all make a career in music.  This was a great (and hopefully helpful!) conversation.

We also covered a great deal of digital resources for bassists in a session later that day.

My wife also stopped by to play the Ginastera Variaciones Concertantes with a bunch of the students.  It was cool to see all the different interpretations that these players brought to this movement.  My wife I and I had performed this in March for the San Francisco Bass Bash as well–here’s a clip of that event:

We rounded out the day with the student recital and an auction of a beautiful Zon electric bass.