San Francisco Winter Bass Bash 2023

This annual event brings together double bass students, performers, and teachers from all over the Bay Area for an inspiring day of music making.

With Richard Duke · San Francisco, CA

What a pleasure it was attending the 2023 San Francisco Winter Bass Bash at Davies Symphony Hall!

The Bass Bash has been going strong for decades and is supported by the education department of the San Francisco Symphony. It brings together double bassists from across the Bay Area for a day filled with inspiring events.

Middle School Ensembles

Double bass students, teachers, and parents from all over the Bay Area gather on a Sunday morning for a full day of bass playing.
Zellerbach Hall is the home for the Bass Bash. It is located at Davies Symphony Hall, home of the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.

The day began with middle and high school bass ensembles, with a featured recital at noon and a master class in the afternoon.

Bass Bash Director Richard Duke coordinates this impressive event each year. Performing in chamber ensembles is tremendous for skill development, and it’s always a pleasure to hear the results of months of hard work from these students.

Middle school performances included San Francisco Public School ensembles from Hoover, A.P. Giannini, Marina, Presidio, Roosevelt, Francisco, and Aptos Middle Schools.

San Francisco Symphony Education Program Manager Anastasia Herold telling the story of this inspiring event.

This year’s Bass Bash also featured a student double bass ensemble from Redwood Middle School in Saratoga, CA.

Many of these students will participate in the weeklong Golden Gate Bass Camp, which will be held this summer from June 20th – 24th.

Bass ensembles develop listening skills and leadership.
Paying attention to the ends of phrases is one of many skills developed in these ensembles.

High School Ensembles

This year’s event featured student performers from Galileo, George Washington, and Lowell High Schools as well as Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts.

The Bass Bash is a great way to get experience performing in public.
Working up music for the Bass Bash gives students the chance to take the melody and develop more advanced skills like thumb position.
Bass coaches either conduct their ensemble or join the students on one of the parts.
Richard, Dave, Yuchen, and Andrei join students to fill out the ensemble. Playing along with teachers can help to develop tone and confidence.
The Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA) students playing arrangements of Lined with a Groove by Ray Brown and My Funny Valentine by Rogers and Hart.

The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra bass section performed an arrangement of Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov. SFSYO is a great opportunity for serious double bass students to develop their skills.

This arrangement featured SOTA senior Leon Simmans on the lead part.


Prior to the recital was a raffle for double bass products from sponsors and supporters like Pirastro and Steve Swan String Bass.

Taking home a new set of strings from Pirastro is a great way to walk out of a Bass Bash.
Steve Swan donates bows for each Bass Bash. A quality bow makes a huge difference in a student’s development.


This year’s recital guest was Szymon Marciniak, a fabulous bass soloist and educator. Szymon performed an inspiring program with his longtime collaborator and pianist Evan Mitchell.

Recital Program for Szymon Marciniak and Evan Mitchell

Master Class

Szymon concluded the day by working with several talented young bassists from the Bay Area.

Szymon working with Youmy Gonzalés on the second movement of the Dittersdorf Concerto.
Jackson Pascual and Szymon dig into Carmen Variations by Frank Proto.
Sophia Barnes and Szymon work on solo Bach.
Leon Simmans digs into Temperamental by Andrés Martín with Szymon.
Matin Boulos works with Szymon on an etude by Hrabe.

A big thanks to everyone involved in making this Bass Bash happen! Check out past coverage of the 2017, 2021, and 2022 Bass Bashes for more about this event.

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