International Society of Bassists – A Historical Look

This organization has been going strong for over 50 years. Here's a look at its origin and evolution.

With Jason Heath · San Francisco, CA

I’ve been a proud member of the International Society of Bassists for over 25 years.

In my role as Contrabass Conversations podcast host, I am constantly accessing the decades of articles located in the George Vance Online Research Library. I get ideas for guests from Bass World and the ISB newsletter. It’s an invaluable resource to me!

Here’s a look back at the people that have played key roles in this great organization over the years.

Early Days

The ISB took on its current structure in the 1990s. Prior to that, the organization was run by early heroes like Gary Karr, Barry Green, and Jeff Bradetich.

Also, the ISB has a great bullet-point list of the key roles and accomplishments from 1967-present on their website.

Early Heroes

Here are those “early heroes” that I mentioned and their role in the organization:

  • Gary Karr – founder of International Institute of String Bass (1967)
  • Barry Green – executive director of the newly renamed International Society of Bassists (1974)
  • Lucas Drew – editor of the ISB newsletter (1974)
  • Jeff Bradetich – executive director and editor (1982)

My Discovery of the ISB

When I first discovered the ISB in my early teens, Jeff Bradetich was basically running the ISB out of his office at Northwestern. I remember how excited I was to check out each newsletter.

It felt like I was a part of something bigger.

Something that transcended my small world of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Being a member of this organization changed my life. It has been my constant companion throughout my career.

The Current Organizational Structure of the ISB

Since 1991, the ISB has been organized in a format familiar to anyone in the nonprofit world, with a president, past president, and president elect. These organizational leaders serve two year terms, and the remaining members of the board of directors hold various positions like secretary, treasurer, convention chair, and the like.

Who, What, When, and Where

Here’s a rundown of those positions from the early days through the present. If I’ve interviewed someone, I’ve linked to that interview. My goal is to eventually interview all of these people for the podcast!

ISB Presidents

Convention Chairs

  • pre-1984 – several events with Gary Karr, Barry Green, Jeff Bradetich (more info here)
  • 1984 – Jeff Bradetich (Northwestern University)
  • 1986 – David Neubert (University of Texas at Austin)
  • 1988 – Paul Zibits (University of California – Los Angeles)
  • 1990 – Don Boyer and Jeff Bradetich (New York University)
  • 1993 – David Neubert (Interlochen Academy for the Arts)
  • 1995 – Lawrence Hurst (Indiana University)
  • 1997 – Paul Ellison (Rice University)
  • 1999 – Diana Gannett (University of Iowa)
  • 2001 – David Murray (Butler University)
  • 2003 – Paul Pearce and Barre Phillips (University of Richmond)
  • 2005 – Tom Knific (Western Michigan University)
  • 2007 – John Schimek and Hans Sturm (Oklahoma City University)
  • 2009 – Rob Nairn (Penn State University School of Music)
  • 2011 – John Kennedy (San Francisco State University)
  • 2013 – Kristin Korb (Eastman School of Music)
  • 2015 – Douglas Mapp (Colorado State University)

Final Thoughts

I have been a member of the ISB for over 25 years at this point and can’t recommend it highly enough. It has been my longest professional association by far, and I have gained so much both personally and professionally from my membership in this fantastic organization.

Member Benefits

If you aren’t a member yet, check out this great excerpt from my interview with current ISB president Douglas Mapp. He does a wonderful job explaining all the benefits of membership:

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