Golden Gate Bass Camp 2023

This annual event brings together bassists of all ages and stylistic backgrounds for a week of learning and inspiration.

With Richard Duke · San Francisco, CA

What a great week of music making at this summer’s Golden Gate Bass Camp!

About the camp

The Golden Gate Bass Camp is a weeklong camp for bass players that takes place annually in San Francisco, California. The camp was founded over 20 years ago by local bass players who wanted to create a space for bass enthusiasts to come together and learn from each other.

Camp director Richard Duke introducing one of this summer’s bass orchestra pieces.
Developing ensemble skills is one of the goals of the camp’s bass orchestra.

Over the years, Golden Gate Bass Camp has grown into a highly respected institution in the international bass community. Bass players from all over the world come to San Francisco to participate in the camp, which features workshops, masterclasses, and performances from some of the most talented bass players in the world.

Composer and bassist Andres Martin is a frequent member of the Golden Gate Bass Camp faculty.
Andres offering words of wisdom and answering questions from the students.

In addition to its educational offerings, Golden Gate Bass Camp has also become a hub for bass players to connect and collaborate. Many former camp participants have gone on to form bands and musical projects together, thanks to the connections they made at the camp. With a rich history and a bright future, Golden Gate Bass Camp is a must-attend event for any serious bass player.

Navigating the Drew School, which has hosted the camp for many years.

Support from the San Francisco Symphony brings members of the San Francisco Symphony bass section in each year to work withe students. These experienced musicians bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise in classical bass playing to the camp, enriching the learning experience for all attendees.

San Francisco Symphony Assistant Principal Bass Stephen Tramontozzi working with a student.
San Francisco Symphony Associate Principal Bass Member Dan Smith exploring Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony with student at the camp.
San Francisco Symphony members Charles Chandler and Amos Yang performing music by Andres Martin at this year’s camp.

Who this camp is for

One of the great things about the Golden Gate Bass Camp is that it caters to bass players of all levels and stylistic interests.Camp director Richard Duke makes sure that whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, there’s something for everyone at the camp.

The workshops and masterclasses cover a wide range of topics, from fundamental techniques to advanced concepts. And the instructors are experts in a variety of styles, so no matter what your musical preferences are, you’re sure to find something that interests you.

Michael Manring brings a wealth of creative energy to the camp.

Another benefit of the Golden Gate Bass Camp is the opportunity for cross-stylistic collaboration. While some camp activities focus on classical bass playing, it also welcomes players from other genres, such as jazz, rock, and folk. This creates a unique environment where players from different backgrounds can learn from each other and collaborate on new musical projects. So no matter what your stylistic preferences are, you’re sure to find a welcoming and inclusive community at the Golden Gate Bass Camp.

Faculty member Geoff Neuman working with the bass orchestra.

Faculty members come from wide stylistic backgrounds

The Golden Gate Bass Camp boasts an impressive faculty, including some of the most talented and diverse bass players in the world. Faculty members like Andres Martin, Donovan Stokes, and Michael Manring bring their unique perspectives and experiences to the camp, enriching the learning experience for all attendees.

Donovan Stokes is a regular faculty member and brings a wide range of experience and stylistic background to the camp.

In addition, members of the San Francisco Symphony bass section serve as faculty members, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise in classical bass playing. With such a diverse range of instructors, the Golden Gate Bass Camp truly offers something for bass players of all backgrounds and interests.

Private lessons at the camp

Each attendee at the Golden Gate Bass Camp gets the opportunity to take two private lessons in addition to participating in all the group classes. These private lessons are an excellent way for bass players to receive personalized feedback and instruction from experienced professionals.

During these private lessons, attendees can work on specific techniques or pieces that they may be struggling with. Instructors can provide tailored feedback and guidance to help each student improve their playing and reach their musical goals. These one-on-one sessions can be a game-changer for any bass player looking to take their playing to the next level.

Group classes cover a wide range of topics

The group classes at the Golden Gate Bass Camp offer a wide range of topics that cater to bass players of all backgrounds and interests. Whether you’re interested in orchestral performance, walking bass, slap bass, technical routines, or any other style or technique, there’s a class for you. These classes are taught by experts in each respective field, giving attendees the opportunity to learn from some of the best bass players in the world.

Steve explores standard orchestral audition literature with a live string quartet, allowing student to experience these excerpts in a more three-dimensional setting.
This is a valuable experience for students looking for a deeper understanding of audition excerpts in context.

One of the benefits of the group classes is the opportunity to collaborate and learn from other bass players. The classes are designed to be interactive, with plenty of opportunities for attendees to ask questions, share their own experiences, and learn from one another.

Andres leading the bass orchestra.

This creates a unique and supportive learning environment where bass players can connect and collaborate with each other, regardless of their musical background or experience level. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, the group classes at the Golden Gate Bass Camp are a valuable and enriching experience.

Special guest Chuck Israels joined this year’s faculty

Chuck is seen here working on fundamentals of jazz with students.

The iconic jazz bassist Chuck Israels was special guest at the 2023 camp. Israels is best known for his work with the Bill Evans Trio in the 1960s, but his career extends far beyond that iconic group. He has performed with a who’s who of jazz legends and has released numerous critically acclaimed albums as both a bandleader and a sideman.

Working with a big band and bass students on Chuck’s own music – what a cool edition to this year’s camp!

In addition to his impressive performance career, Israels is also an established composer and jazz educator. Israels’ deep knowledge of jazz history and his unique perspective on the music make him an invaluable addition to the Golden Gate Bass Camp faculty.

Two concerts cap off the week of bass learning

The week of the Golden Gate Bass Camp wraps up with two exciting concerts. On the final night of the camp, faculty members take the stage for a special concert that showcases their incredible talents. This is a unique opportunity for attendees to see their instructors perform in a professional setting and experience the full range of their expertise.

The following day, attendees themselves take the stage for the student concert. This concert is a culmination of the week’s hard work and features performances from both individual students and the bass orchestra. The bass orchestra is a unique feature of the Golden Gate Bass Camp and is a highlight for many attendees.

Throughout the week, students rehearse a variety of bass orchestra pieces in different styles. These pieces are conducted by various faculty members, each bringing their own unique style and approach to the music. This creates a rich and diverse learning experience for the students, allowing them to explore a range of musical genres and techniques.

Raffling off sets of strings from Pirastro and items from other sponsors!

The student concert is a celebration of all that the attendees have learned and accomplished during their time at the camp. It’s a chance for them to showcase their newfound skills and collaborate with their peers in a supportive and welcoming environment. The bass orchestra pieces are a highlight of the concert, demonstrating the students’ ability to work together and create something truly beautiful.

Overall, the faculty and student concerts are a fitting end to an incredible week of learning, collaboration, and growth. They showcase the talent and dedication of all involved and leave attendees inspired and motivated to continue their musical journey.

Thanks to Pirastro for their support of this event, and check out more photos from camp here.

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