Golden Gate Bass Camp 2024

This yearly gathering unites bass players of various ages and styles for a week filled with learning and motivation.

With Richard Duke · San Francisco, CA

The Golden Gate Bass Camp, held annually in San Francisco, is a week-long event tailored for bassists. Established over two decades ago by local bass enthusiasts, the camp has evolved into an esteemed institution within the global bass community. It attracts bassists globally for workshops, masterclasses, and performances by world-class bassists.

Camp director Richard Duke with the 2024 camp staff, all of whom attended the camp when they were in middle school and high school.

The camp also serves as a networking hub for bassists, with many previous participants forming bands and musical collaborations. The Golden Gate Bass Camp is a recommended event for any passionate bassist, given its rich history and promising future.

Large bass ensemble rehearsals take place each morning during camp.

The Camp’s Audience

The Golden Gate Bass Camp accommodates bassists of all skill levels and styles. Camp director Richard Duke ensures that the camp offers something for everyone, regardless of whether they are novices or seasoned players.

Penn State double bass professor Patricia Weitzel joined the camp faculty this summer.

The camp also promotes multi-genre collaborations, including classical, jazz, and rock.

San Francisco Symphony members Amos Yang and Charles Chandler performed and answered questions from the attendees.

This unique environment facilitates learning and collaboration among different backgrounds, making it a welcoming community for all bassists.

Developing jazz bass skills wirh returning faculty member Katie Thiroux.

Stylistically Diverse Faculty

The camp prides itself on a diverse faculty, comprising some of the world’s most talented bassists, including Patricia Weitzel, Katie Thiroux, Andres Martin, Donovan Stokes, Michael Manring, Jeff Denson, and other bass teachers and performers. They enrich the attendees’ learning experience with their unique insights.

Michael Manring explores a wide array of techniques and concepts each summer at camp.

Members of the San Francisco Symphony bass section also serve as faculty, providing invaluable classical bass expertise.

Exploring off-the-string bow strokes with San Francisco Symphony Associate Principal Bass Dan Smith. Assistant Principal Bass Steve Tramontozzi followed this class with one covering on-the-string strokes.

Thanks to this, the camp caters to bassists of all backgrounds and interests.

Exploring left hand technique with Andres Martin.

Private Lessons

Attendees are given the opportunity for two private lessons, allowing personalized instruction from seasoned professionals. These sessions help in refining specific techniques or pieces, offering tailored feedback to help students improve their skills and achieve their musical goals.

Group Classes

The camp offers an array of group classes that span a wide spectrum of topics. These are designed with the intent to cater to the interests and backgrounds of bassists across all levels, from those just starting out on their journey to seasoned professionals looking to hone their skills.

Donovan Stokes working with the large ensemble.

The topics covered in these classes are varied and comprehensive, ensuring that each attendee will find something that resonates with their unique musical inclinations.

Bass maker Alex Friedman brought his latest double bass for camp faculty and students to check out.

These classes are not just lectures, but they are interactive sessions that encourage attendees to engage in discussions, ask questions, and learn from their peers. This peer-to-peer learning methodology helps foster a unique learning environment that is both supportive and enriching. At this camp, every participant feels seen, heard, and valued, making it a truly remarkable learning experience.

Andres Martin ran a group composition project during the week, culminating in a performance of Leap of Faith, a new solo bass work collectively composed by the students.

Concerts

The week of the Golden Gate Bass Camp wraps up with two exciting concerts. This year’s faculty concert was held Thursday night at the wonderful Waystone Wine Bar in North Beach.

Jeff Denson grooving with his trio at this year’s faculty concert.

On the subsequent day, attendees themselves become the performers for the student concert. This event is the climax of the week’s efforts, showcasing performances from individual students and the bass orchestra alike. The bass orchestra, a distinctive feature of the Golden Gate Bass Camp, is a noteworthy aspect for attendees.

Small student ensembles performed on the first half of the concert.

Over the course of the week, students engage in rehearsals for an array of bass orchestra pieces that span diverse styles. Each piece is guided by different faculty members, each contributing their distinct style and methodology to the music. This cultivates a varied and comprehensive learning experience for students, enabling them to delve into a spectrum of musical genres and techniques.

Michael Manring’s group traded solos during their performance.

The student concert stands as a testament to the attendees’ learning journey and achievements during the camp. It provides a platform for showcasing their honed skills and fostering collaboration within a nurturing environment.

Raffle prizes included strings from Pirastro, a bow from Steve Swan String Bass, Robin Kesselman’s new book Bow Speed Geography, an ErgoBass, Zon electric bass strings, tickets to the San Francisco Symphony, and more!

The bass orchestra pieces, a standout feature of the concert, illustrate the students’ cooperative spirit and their ability to create harmonious and beautiful music together.

Wrapping up the student concert with the bass orchestra.

In conclusion, both the faculty and student concerts serve as a perfect culmination to a week filled with learning, collaboration, and progress. They display the attendees’ commitment and talent, leaving them with renewed inspiration and motivation to persevere on their musical paths.

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

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