Pittsburgh Double Bass Symposium 2023

This inspiring annual event brings together world-renowned double bass performers and educators for a day of performances, classes, and community.

With Micah Howard · Pittsburgh, PA

It is such a pleasure to be a part this outstanding day of double bass at Carnegie Mellon University. CMU bass faculty member Micah Howard keeps this annual event fresh with a rotating list of faculty from the country’s best ensembles and institutions of higher learning.

Indiana University Professor Emeritus Lawrence Hurst sharing words of wisdom at the 2020 Symposium

About the Symposium

Bringing together these guest artists to perform and work with the Carnegie Mellon University double bass students is part of what makes this school such a special place to study the double bass. I come away from this event inspired and musically energized.

CMU has been livestreaming this event for the past few years, which is a great way to connect the wider world with this excellent local event.

9:30 am – Jeff Mangone Master Class

It is always a pleasure to take in Jeff Mangone‘s great classes at the Symposium. This year, Jeff ran a master class focused on opera excerpts. Jeff has played an wide array of operas in his role as principal bassist for the Pittsburgh Opera, and I learned a lot from what he covered with the CMU students.

Jeff Mangone offering up advice on opera excerpts to Advanced Music Studies student Andrew Ballard

11 am – Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Bass Section Recital

It’s rare that an entire bass section performs together on a recital, but it happens here in Pittsburgh! It’s always a pleasure to hear these great musicians and the wide range of repertoire they explore on these recitals.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra bass section member Aaron White performs Reverie by Giovanni Bottesini with pianist Rodrigo Ojeda
PSO bassist and CMU faculty member Peter Guild performs his own composition Variations on a Sketch by Penderecki
PSO bassist John Moore performs Sonata No. 1 in G major, BWV 1027 by J.S. Bach in high C tuning with harpsichordist Justin Wallace
PSO Associate Principal Bassist Brandon McLean performs the iconic solo piece Kadenza by Teppa Hauta-Aho
PSO bassist and CMU faculty member Micah Howard performs Elegy and Tarantella by Giovanni Bottesini
Jeff Grubbs, Tania Grubbs and Eric Susoeff perform “Four” by Miles Davis, which was arranged by Jeff Grubbs
ania Grubbs, Jeff Grubbs, Peter Guild, Micah Howard and John Moore perform “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix, which was arranged for Voice and Bass Quartet by Peter Guild

1 pm – Joel Braun Master Class

Joel Braun was recently appointed to the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin. He’s an outstanding solo performer and teacher with years of experience as playing with ensembles like the New York Philharmonic.

Joel Braun working with Sruti Bapatla, CMU Bachelor of Music student
Working with Brian Bera, CMU Advanced Music Studies student
Working with Daniel Ryan, CMU Master of Music student

3:30 pm – Brett Shurtliffe Recital

Though I’ve known Brett Shurtliffe for many years, I’d never heard him play a recital before. I was blown away by the flow and expressivity of his playing. Brett has been working with loopers for the past few years, and it was incredible to be on this wild ride with him.

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Associate Principal Bassist Brett Shurtliffe played a riveting and inspiring solo recital, incorporating loops and other gear

6 pm – Alex Hanna Master Class

I used to be on faculty with Chicago Symphony principal bassist Alex Hanna at DePaul University. I was thrilled to see that he’d be teaching a class this year. I’ve learned so much over the years from watching Alex, and I was soaking in all kinds of helpful advice during this class.

Alex Hanna working with Nathan Graham, CMU Advanced Music Studies student
Working with Andrew Ballard, CMU Advanced Music Studies student
Working with Levee Stadel, CMU Advanced Music Studies student
Working with Drew Collins, CMU Master of Music student

8 pm – Volkan Orhon Recital

Volkan played a recital on a five string double bass with a high C string, which opened up all kinds of cool possibilities. He’s one of my favorite recitalists, and I was smiling throughout the whole performance.

Volkan played a wide-ranging and expressive performance with pianist and fellow University of Iowa faculty member David Gompper to close out this year’s Symposium
For this performance, Volkan’s 5-string bass featured a high C string, opening up a multitude of new fingering choices and colors

Bravo to Micah for another great Pittsburgh Double Bass Symposium!

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