International Society of Bassists Convention 2019

Events like International Society of Bassists conventions are always a “choose your own adventure” affair. With multiple events running concurrently throughout the day, taking it all in is impossible.

With Jason Heath · San Francisco, CA

This is only the third ISB convention I’ve attended. I made it to the 2009 convention at Penn State and the 2017 convention at Ithaca College. In the years between those two conventions, I taught high school orchestra, and conventions were always when we had final exams.

After quitting my job and moving to California, I’ve had the flexibility to attend these events again. In addition to these ISB conventions, I’ve made it out to the Bass Europe events in 2016 in Prague and in 2018 in Lucca, Italy.

Regardless of the organizing body, I have a great time checking out performances and clinics at events like these, socializing with old and new friends, playing on a few performances, and doing interviews for my Contrabass Conversations podcast.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

I caught a red-eye flight to Indianapolis to make it to our board meeting. It was a pleasure to run into my good friend Lloyd Goldstein at the Indy airport—what a warm welcome to Indiana!

Meetings are short at the convention since there’s so much activity surrounding the event itself. Still, we took care of some important business, and we were joined remotely by board members that couldn’t make it to the event itself.

It was a lot of fun spending time with Gary Upton of Upton Bass throughout the week. I’ve been a big fan of Gary his company over the years, and I get so much inspiration from his imagination, energy, and business acumen.

After getting dinner and drinks with some of the board members on campus, I headed back to my Airbnb and crashed, knowing that there was a full week ahead of me.

Monday, June 3, 2019

This year, D’Addario Orchestral set up booth space in their exhibit space for me to do interviews, which worked wonderfully.

I also had some obligations as the ISB Marketing Chair. This makes for a pretty active convention experience for me, so your experiences may have been quite different if you were there.

Monday at the convention was filled with competitions and preparations for the coming week. The following competitions were all running through the day on Monday:

  • Maker’s Competition
  • Jazz Competition
  • Solo Competition
  • Orchestral Competition
  • 15-18 Competition
  • 14 & Under Competition

I had a great time reconnecting with several friends, helping to unpack the Eastman Strings booth, and getting settled into the D’Addario booth for the week’s interviews.

I ran into Hector Tirado Monday morning. Hector is a deaf bassist from Puerto Rico who plays the bass using proprioception. It’s remarkable how he feels the vibrations of the bass in order to play.

Jason and Hector talking shop for Contrabass Conversations

Hector has also worked with Gary Karr over the years. Gary and I talked about Hector and also about how proprioception works in an interview from 2018.

I also had a great conversation with Maggie Cox, who is a past student of Tracy Rowell and currently studies with Tim Pitts at Rice university. We dug into bass and gender and about the Project for All Gender Equality (PAGE), which took place at the convention on Wednesday.

I also had the chance to chat with Fausto Borem of Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Fausto has been a champion of the instrument and in commissioning and promoting new works.

You’ll be able to check out this conversation with Fausto and all of the other conversations I had soon on the podcast.

A new development at this ISB convention was the live-streaming of some events. Here’s their schedule for what we streamed:

I had a wonderful time checking out the opening night recital, and it was a pleasure to hear 2017 Solo Competition Winner and past podcast guest Aaron Olguin lay it down with several collaborators, including Andrés Martín.

I also performed with both Aaron and Andrés later in the week for Andrés’ recital, and I also had a wonderful time performing with Aaron during the fall of 2018 at Andrés’ bass festival.

Aaron and Jason performing Dani Chiva’s bass duets in 2018

After the concert, we headed to the D’Addario-sponsored after hours event at Mother Bear’s Pizza for the first of many evening hangs. It seemed like midnight came in the blink of an eye, and I made my way back to my Airbnb for as much sleep as I could manage.

For me, sleep is tough to come by at ISB conventions, and I often find myself dangerously close to losing my voice with the combination of little sleep, not enough water, loud talking, etc. I started to feel it go early in the week, but I was careful and made it through the whole week without too much trouble.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Schedule of Events

  • 8:30 AM – Daily Warm-Ups with Nicholas Walker
  • 9 AM – 2 PM – Solo Competition Finals
  • 9 AM – 4 PM – Maker’s Competition Audience Favorite Voting
  • 9 AM – Nick Scales: Teaching Bass in a Day to the non-bassist String Teacher
  • 9 AM – Luis Gomez-Imbert: Technology and music
  • 10 AM – Geoffrey Saunders: Arco Jazz Bass: An Historical Overview
  • 10 AM – Vassilis Papavassiliou: Vibrato Revisited Part II
  • 10 AM – Paul Robinson: Rhythm, Rhythm and Rhythm: Three Requirements for Effective Auditions
  • 10 AM – Colin Corner: Orchestral Audition Masterclass
  • 11 AM – Scott Haigh: Masterclass
  • 11 AM – Braun Khan: The Bass Line Vocabulary of Israel Crosby
  • 11 AM – Philip Alejo: Essential Double Bass Skills for the Music Educator
  • 2 PM – Gregg August: Lecture
  • 2 PM – Burak & Ebru Karaagac: Duolog: Violin-Bass and Piano Chamber Music Recital
  • 2 PM – Chris Brown: Strokes with the Most: Deciding when to play on the string or off the string
  • 3 PM – Gabriele Ragghianti: The Italian Bass Tradition
  • 3 PM – Miles Brown: Joe Mondragon’s Bass Lines
  • 3 PM – Tod Leavitt: Contrabass: King of Pizzicato
  • 3 PM – Brian Casey: Bridging Traditions: A Musico-cultural Analysis
  • 3 PM – Virginia Dixon: The Suzuki Teacher Training Program:
    Hone Your Teaching Skills
  • 4 PM – Brett Shurtliffe: Franz Simandl – The Bohemian Bottesini
  • 4 PM – Danny Ziemann: Teaching Jazz Bass: Considerations for the Future of our Profession
  • 4 PM – Kevin Brown: Bach Cello Suite No. 2 and Viola da Gamba Duets
  • 4 PM – Bradley Opland: Gospel Bass Parts
  • 5 PM – Owen Lee: Recital
  • 8 PM – DaXun Zhang in Concert
  • 9 PM – Lynn Seaton in Concert

My Tuesday Experiences

I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of Gabriele Ragghianti and me wearing our D’Addario shirts as I headed into the Musical Arts Center (MAC) for the first full day of sessions and exhibits.

Gabriele organized the marvelous Bass Europe 2018 Congress in his hometown of Lucca, Italy, and I had the chance to play with him later in the year on Simon Garcia’s recital.

I then headed to the D’Addario booth and started the first of many interviews for Contrabass Conversations for the week including past podcast guests Vassilis Papavassiliou, Danny Ziemann, and Adam Booker, as well as Chris Kosky and Audrey Jo Williams:

I also got a chance to stop by the Young Bassists program, which was organized by Tracy Rowell. This is one of the best ways that a young bass player can spend a week, and it was so cool to see all the great music making and learning going on in this program.

Perspectives from Young Bassists Program participants

It was great to see Maggie Carter, who won first prize for the 14 and under competition for this convention. Maggie and I shared a stand together for Claus Freudenstein’s 2017 ISB recital, and I got a chance to teach her a lesson when I was subbing with the Oregon Symphony in 2018.

Maggie is a student of Oregon Symphony bassist and past podcast guest Nina DeCesare, and it was a lot of fun to not only see her again but to also chat with her for the Young Bassist Program video.

Next up was Gabriele Ragghianti’s recital, and it was great to hear Gabriele perform with frequent collaborator Dan Styffe.

This day was also the day that competition winners were announced.

Competition Winners

Solo Division

  • 1st prize – Nina Bernat
  • 2nd prize – Jesse Fischer
  • 3rd prize – Jacob Warren

Jazz Division

  • 1st prize – Ethan Philion
  • 2nd prize – William Ledbetter
  • 3rd prize – Emiliano Lasansky

Orchestra Division

  • 1st prize – Riley Zimmermann
  • 2nd prize – Sean O’Hara
  • 3rd prize – John Mietus
  • Honorable Mention – Chantel Leung and Joseph Gaskins

Age 15-18 Division

  • 1st prize – Zhang Yue
  • 2nd prize – Andrew Gantzer
  • 3rd prize – Ya-Hsuan Chen
  • Honorable Mention – Evan Tsai

Age 14 and Under Division

  • 1st prize – Maggie Carter
  • 2nd prize – Jamie Park
  • 3rd prize – Jacob Fisher
  • Honorable Mention – Levi Andreassen

ISB 2019 Bass Makers Competition

  • Robert Macintosh, Cambridge, NY – Certificate for Tone
  • Joey Naeger, Katy, TX – Certificate for Tone / Silver for Workmanship
  • John Koehler, Shoqualmie, WA – Silver for Tone
  • Keiran O’Hara, Brewster, NY – Certificate for Tone
  • Mitch Moehring, Kilgore, TX – Silver for Tone
  • Andrew Stetson and William Lakeberg, Cincinnati, OH – Convention Favorite Honorable Mention
  • Randy Hunt, Nashville, TN – Certificate for Tone
  • Tetsu Suzuki, Cremona, Italy – Certificate for Tone / Certificate for Workmanship
  • Sam Morel, Lyon, France – Silver for Tone
  • Mathieu Mayoux, Saint Angel, France – Certificate for Workmanship
  • Trevor Davis, Austin, TX – Silver for Workmanship / Convention Favorite
  • Christopher Savino, Albuqerque, NM – Silver for Workmanship
  • David Briggs, Edgewood, NM – Certificate for Tone / Certificate for Workmanship
  • Evan Davenport, Albuqerque, NM – Silver for Workmanship / Convention Favorite Honorable Mention
  • Aaron Reiley, Hudsonville, MI – Silver for Tone / Convention Favorite Honorable Mention
  • Cristina Scipioni, Mantova, Italy – Certificate for Workmanship

That evening, we got to check out DaXun Zhang’s recital, which also featured music by Andrés Martín.

I’ve had such a great time working with DaXun over the years. My wife and I got together with DaXun while visiting Austin earlier this spring, and it has been such a great experience working with him over the years at the Golden Gate Bass Camp and other bass events.

DaXun performing at the 2017 Golden Gate Bass Camp

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Schedule of Events

  • 8:30 AM – Daily Warm-Ups with Paul Ellison
  • 9 AM – 4 PM – Makers Competition Sound-Off
  • 9 AM – Cody Takacs: The Double Bass-Voice: A How-To Guide
  • 9 AM – Andrew Kohn: Finding Bass Sheet Music
  • 10 AM – Lloyd Goldstein with Joshua Paul
  • 10 AM – Hans Sturm: Scales and Arpeggios: An Organized Approach to All Keys
  • 10 AM – Henry Peyrebrune: George Vance Panel Discussion
  • 11 AM – DaXun Zhang: Masterclass with DaXun Zhang
  • 11 AM – Mark Urness: Frontiers: Classical, Jazz, and Social Consciousness
  • 11 AM – Derek Zadinsky: Connections to IU
  • 11 AM – Scott Dixon: Practical Just Intonation
  • 11 AM – Chris Kosky: The Thumb Transition Zone
  • 12:30 – 2 PM – Project for All Gender Equality (PAGE) Round Table Discussion
  • 2 PM – Volkan Orhon: New Concerto for Double Bass
  • 2 PM – Adrian Mann: Ultimate Bass Quartets: A 53-Year Evolution in Memory of Frederick Zimmermann
  • 2 PM – Dean Ferrell: The Return of Captaine Hume ?s Humorous Humors
  • 2 PM – Joshua Davis: Mrs. Wigglebottom, City, and Laden, for orchestra and solo double bass, non-looper and Love Salad-looper versions
  • 2 PM – George Amorim: BACH to BASSics – a quest to the unknown!
  • 3 PM – Frank Proto: Masterclass
  • 3 PM – Mathieu Desy: Glow In The Dark, Polyphonic Solos
  • 3 PM – Svetozar Vujic: P Kellach Waddle World premiere for double bass and piano
  • 4 PM – Indiana University Quintet
  • 4 PM – Bruce Gertz: Alternative Facts
  • 4 PM – Han-Jui Chen (Henry Chen): Franck, Debussy, and Faure?
  • 5 PM – Jeffrey Turner & Kurt Muroki Masterclass
  • 5 PM – Louis Levitt: Sybarite5 presents Endeavor
  • 8 PM – Gunars Upatnieks in Concert
  • 9 PM – Jiri Slavik in Concert

My Wednesday Experiences

It was great to have my friend and Contrabass Conversations business parter Trevor Jones at the convention for a few days. This was his first convention, but hopefully it won’t be his last!

Also, it was cool to see Trevor meet Mitch Moehring. Mitch also works on the podcast, and he won a silver medal for tone at this convention. Congrats to Mitch!

While exploring the campus, Trevor and I also ran into Henry Chen, our former classmate from DePaul University. Henry now teaches bass at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and he is also a past podcast guest.

It was also a lot of fun catching up with Geoff Chalmers of Discover Double Bass. Geoff has been doing great things for double bass education with his site, and it has been great to feature both Geoff and many of his course creators on the podcast over the years:

It was also great seeing past podcast guests Rick Jones from Acoustic Image and Chris Fitzgerald from the University of Louisville.

I also was able to do interviews with Bret Shurtliffe, Nick Scales, and Desmond Bratton.

After some great concertizing from Gunars Upatnieks and Jiri Slavik, I had the chance to catch up with several old friends and past podcast guests, like Brent Edmondson.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Schedule of Events

  • 8:30 AM – Daily Warm-Ups with Lawrence Hurst
  • 10 AM – Phillip Serna: The Great Dooble Bass – Music for Violone & Viols
  • 10 AM – Elizabeth Clawson: An Exploration of Duo Music for Double Bass and Guitar
  • 10 AM – Gaelen McCormick: Duets in the Classroom/Studio
  • 10 AM – David Neubert: Online Teaching – Pros and Cons
  • 11 AM – Ed Barker: Masterclass
  • 11 AM – Fausto Borem invites Voice, Piano and Basses for Crossover Music
  • 11 AM – Scott Worthington: How to Get Started Performing with Electronics
  • 11 AM – Mark Morton: Five Original String Orchestrations of Solo Bass Works by Giovanni Bottesini
  • 11 AM – Claus Freudenstein: The magic of Minibass
  • 11 AM – John Schimek: Teaching Private Lessons the R.I.T.E. Way
  • 2 PM – Simon Garcia: SoundWorld
  • 2 PM – Jeremy Baguyos: Double Bass in Virtual Reality
  • 2 PM – Timothy Emmons: Mastering Odd Meter Performance
  • 2 PM – David Baker: The Double Bass in Jazz: It’s Evolution from 1920 to 1950
  • 3 PM – Michael Cameron: A Hoosier Celebration
  • 3 PM – Pete Coco Trio
  • 3 PM – Adam Booker: Slap That Bass!
  • 3 PM – Tisha Simeral: Adventures in Academia: Survival Tips, Roadmaps, Detours, and Reflections for Your Journey to Teaching in Higher Education
  • 4 PM – Dan Styffe: Recital
  • 4 PM – Lynn Seaton: Masterclass with Lynn Seaton
  • 4 PM – Rodrigo Mata Alvarez: TOLO LOCH New Mexican Music for Double bass ensemble
  • 4 PM – Susan Cahill: Masterclass with Susan Cahill
  • 4 PM – Rolf Erdahl: Accounting for Grieg
  • 5 PM – Dominik Wagner: Recital
  • 5 PM – Martin Wind: Legacy Recital Program
  • 8 PM – Chi-chi Nwanoku in Concert
  • 9 PM – Ron Carter in Concert

My Thursday Experiences

More interviews and encounters with all kinds of interesting artists today, including Mike Trowbridge (FJH Music), Tom Knific (University of Western Michigan), and Sarah Hogan (St. Louis Symphony).

I also had the chance to check out Ed Barker, principal bass of the Boston Symphony and bass professor at Boston University (and a past podcast guest) in master class.

I also spent some time with Rodrigo Mata and other bassists of Mushamukas.

I met Rodrigo and the other members of Mushamukas at Andrés Martín’s Latin American Bass Camp in the fall of 2018, and it was a pleasure to hear their group and their interesting explorations of the music of Mexican composers.

Unfortunately, Simón García’s flight was canceled to the ISB convention, and booking a flight that would get him to the convention in time for this recital proved to be impossible.

I was slated to perform on this recital along with:

  • Hans Sturm
  • Andres Martin
  • Dan Styffe
  • Gabriele Ragghianti
  • Volkan Orhon
  • Adam Booker
  • Barry Green
  • Rodrigo Mata

Even though Simón was unable to make it out, we all performed in his honor, and we live-streamed it as well.

I am such a fan of Simon’s music, and I feel so fortunate to have been one of the guest artists for his 2019 Galicia Graves Festival.

The evening was rounded out two outstanding recitals: one from Chi-chi Nwanoku, and the other from Ron Carter (another past podcast guest).

It was quite inspiring to hear these two artists that I’ve admired for so many years, and it was great as well to have Chi-chi as a part of our panel discussion on Longevity and the Bassist on Friday.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Schedule of Events

  • 8:30 AM – Daily Warm-Ups with Barry Green
  • 9 AM – John Patitucci Workshop with Special Guest Steve Bailey
  • 9 AM – Yoshiaki Horiguchi: Teaching with the George Vance Method
  • 10 AM – Hector Tirado: Feeling Through Silence
  • 10 AM – Susan Wulff: Unleash Your Inner Groove
  • 10 AM – Chris Fitzgerald: Bachrilege: Using pizzicato arrangements of cello suite movements as technical etudes for jazz bassists
  • 10 AM – Barry Green: The How and Why of Music Making
  • 11 AM – Masterclass with the Masters: Paul Ellison Teaches John Clayton
  • 11 AM – Bad Boyz of Double Bass
  • 11 AM – Susan Cahill: Voice in Deep
  • 11 AM – Randall Kertz: Longevity of the Bassist: What Bassists Should Know
  • 2 PM – Igor Eliseev: Absolute RACHMANINOV
  • 2 PM – John Hamil: Johnny Hamil presents GAV7D Video Game solo bass
  • 2 PM – Joel Braun: Recital
  • 2 PM – Masterclass with the Masters: John Clayton Teaches Paul Ellison
  • 3 PM – David Murray: Music of Paul Ramsier
  • 3 PM – Willem von Hombracht Trio
  • 3 PM – Pedro Vares de Azevedo: Piazzolla & Trovajoli Recital
  • 3 PM – Caroline Emery: Bow works Progressive Technique for Double bass and use with other major approaches and standard repertoire
  • 4 PM – Stefano Sciascia: Molto Cantabile
  • 4 PM – Betsy Soukup: This Disquiet: Songs for bass and voice
  • 4 PM – Chunyang Wang: Beyond Bach’s Cello Suites, A New Transcription of J.S. Bach’s Flute Partita BWV 1013, for Solo Double Bass
  • 5 PM – Andres Martin: Temperamental: Recital of Andres Martin Compositions
  • 5 PM – Glen Moore in Concert
  • 8 PM – Lorraine Campet in Concert
  • 9 PM – John Patitucci in Concert

My Friday Experiences

Friday was my busiest day by far.

I started the day back at the D’Addario booth chatting with my good friend and past podcast guest Claus Freudenstein. Claus is filled with energy and is always excited about his latest projects, which we dig into in this quick update for Contrabass Conversations.

Next up was Longevity and the Bassist, a session organized by Dr. Randy Kertz and featuring John Patitucci, Chi-chi Nwanoku, and Steve Bailey. All three of these artists have worked with Randy in the past, and we had a lively discussion on the topic with plenty of interesting questions from the audience.

I also chatted with:

Performing on Andrés Martín’s recital was an honor and a pleasure for me. We performed his bass trio Marcas de pasión, which was written for Richard Duke and debuted at my very first Golden Gate Bass Camp back in 2016.

Andrés played a devastatingly good recital, and D’Addario brought out a camera crew to record it, so expect footage from this soon.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Schedule of Events

  • 8:30 – 10 AM – College Fair
  • 10 AM – Maggie Hasspacher: Techniques for Vocalizing and Playing Simultaneously
  • 11 AM – Jessica Valls: My Favorite Things: Eclectic Programming for Every Audience
  • 11 AM – 2019 Composition Competition Winners Recital
  • 11 AM – Kieran Hanlon: Practical Bach for the Double Bass
  • 1 PM – Young Bassists Concert
  • 3 PM – Brian Powell: Swing Hi, Swing Low: New Music for Violin and Bass
  • 3 PM – Alan Lewine: Original Jazz
  • 3 PM – 2018 ISB Research Competition Winners Presentations
  • 4 PM – Sam Suggs: Haydn [Re]Creation: Reviving the Lost Concerto
  • 4 PM – Boundless Soundscapes: a performance by Shade & Light Duo (Megan McDevitt and Betsy Soukup)
  • 4 PM – Yung-chiao Wei: Bach Violin Partita #3 and Award Winning Young Talents
  • 8 PM – John Clayton and Friends in Concert

My Saturday Experiences

Though the convention continued through Saturday evening, I had to head back to San Francisco by late afternoon, so my morning consisted of packing things up and saying my goodbyes.

I did have the opportunity to chat for the podcast with David Neubert before leaving. David was on the podcast a couple of years ago, and he had me be the moderator for a cool panel discussion from the 2017 convention about the history of the ISB.

David did a session about online teaching and the pros and cons of various methods, which we also talked about for the podcast. This is a topic that I think about frequently, and I had a great time mulling over the topic with him.

Final Thoughts

I had one heck of a time connecting with all of these great performers and teachers, leaving with a fully charged battery of musical inspiration, and I learn so much in the process.

If you haven’t gone to an ISB convention before, or if it has been some time since your last one, I’d highly recommend attending. It’s well worth the financial and time investment to attend, and there’s a special energy about bass gatherings on this scale that I haven’t found anywhere else.

Keep Exploring

International Society of Bassists 2009 Convention

International Society of Bassists Convention 2009

San Francisco winter bass bash 2021

San Francisco Winter Bass Bash 2021

Rabbath Institute Los Angeles double bass 2019

Rabbath Institute Los Angeles 2019

Share This Post


Get connected to double bassists, events, and communities all over the world.


Listen to the Podcast

Contrabass conversations

Share your ideas with the double bass community.