Gary Karr brought the worldwide community of bassists together in spectacular fashion during his keynote speech at the 2017 International Society of Bassists Convention in Ithaca, New York.
Gary played two beautiful selection for the rapt audience. He first started off with a lovely rendition of the Bloch Prayer:
He finished up with the Cavatina by Stanley Meyers:
Gary also gave a beautiful keynote speech prior to playing these selections. The complete keynote is available to ISB members in a recent edition of Bass World. Here are a few inspiring excerpts from this seminal speech:
This is the most important speech since my Bar Mitzvah. In the life of a Jewish boy it’s the day that you proclaim, “Today I am a man.” Well, now I’d like to proclaim, “Today I am a grandpa” of the most important family of my life: the brother/sisterhood of the International Society of Bassists.
After Barry Green’s tenure, the executive directorship was passed to Jeff Bradetich; and then in 1991, the organization became so successful under his leadership that it was given over to business professionals, and for the past 26 years our beloved Madeleine Crouch has been at the helm, and her love of our ISB family is truly palpable. We owe a helluva lot more debts of gratitude to Barry Green, Jeff Bradetich and to Madeleine Crouch than to me for the amazing continued prosperity of the International Society of Bassists. No words of thanks can do them justice for their hard work and devotion to our family, but if they would kindly stand we would like to thank them with a rousing round of applause.
As much as I would have liked, very little discourse about actual bowing technique was presented 50 years ago; but even then, with the presence of jazz bassists there was a lot of talk about pizzicato… one, two or three fingers and where to get the best sound. I don’t think that classical bassists paid much attention to this topic and I wish that they had. I certainly learned a lot from the jazzers. Also, the jazzers talked more about setting up the bass than classical players and, of course, amplification was a big topic.
As for the technique of bowing, I am still learning, and I’m happy to report that at age 75 I’ve made a lot of progress during the past six months thanks to Tim Cobb, whose inspirational performance of Bach’s Third Suite was played with a Baroque bow. After hearing him I decided to do my daily practice with my own Baroque bow made by Max Kasper. It heightened the feeling of the connection between the hair and the string resulting in more control than I’ve ever had before. I’ve been so spoiled by the great instruments that I’ve owned that performing on someone else’s bass seemed a Herculean task… that is, until I witnessed a concert of challenging Bottesini pieces given by Volkan Orhan on an unfamiliar instrument. I really don’t know how he played so brilliantly on someone else’s bass, but his incredible performance influenced me to be more flexible. Yes, we’ve come a long way, brothers and sisters!
In addition to giving this magnificent keynote, Gary was a remarkable presence throughout the entire convention. Gary seemed to be in the audience for every single session into which I walked. His presence in the audience was a magical show of support for the community as a whole.