Okay, so I’d had my full day of bass excitement. Knowing the next day couldn’t be quite as packed, I decided to explore more of the exhibits and try out some more basses (after hearing Ken Smith go on about them the day before, I had to take a look.). My schedule ended up looking something like this:
9am: Paul Ellison masterclass
10am: Luthier competition basses
11am: Lawrence Angell masterclass 12noon: Ken Smith basses
3pm: Hagai Bilitzky
4pm: Garth Stevenson (looping)
4:20pm Rémy Yulzari and Nadav Lev
5pm: Sybarite 5
8pm: Andrés Martin
9:30pm: Talking Hands Quartet
Paul Ellison’s morning masterclass was packed. I was impressed to hear that he stands while playing for a whole performance of Tristan and Isolde! and I felt less weird about having stood in the National Youth Orchestra Canada last summer…
When this was done I met up with René Gosselin, a teacher from Conservatoire in Montreal who I’m auditioning for next week. He invited me to check out the luthier competition, as his bass had been entered. This was an interesting experience, hearing the vast differences bass-to-bass, but it certainly demanded patience on the part of the audience and judges, a quality I lacked pre- breakfast… so I went back to Ludwig’s for my usual.
Normally I would avoid sessions with titles like “How To Play An Audition And Win,” but then I heard it was the principal bassist of the Cleveland Symphony. Was I ever glad I went to this. Lawrence Angell’s directness and sense of humour came through in his raspy voice, and as he walked slowly and shakily across the stage, I knew I was seeing a man who’d been around. Interspersed into his teaching were stories about the war, and the Cleveland Orchestra’s rise to international fame.
Ken Smith wasn’t there when I arrived to try his basses, but I played on his them until he returned. I was almost ready to leave when I heard someone playing a bass I hadn’t tried yet. This was to become a forbidden love affair… I stayed for another hour playing this bass and contemplating how to make enough money to afford it… become Ken’s slave? sell a leg? a sibling?
In the afternoon I took in a random assortment of sessions, since my overtired brain couldn’t make decisions… I caught the second half of a Middle-Eastern Music performance, heard a bass solo with loop pedal and effects, and then had the most well-accompanied nap of my life in the third row of a Latin music performance (I’m sorry Rémy! It really was very good!).
Thinking I’d be falling asleep again, I went to sit alone at the back row of Kilbourn Hall (another beautiful performance space) for something called Sybarite 5. As they came onstage and I discovered they were not a bass quintet, I was quickly woken from my stupor by an energetic performance of acoustically distorted Radiohead. It seemed to me that this young string quintet were the successors to Kronos, improved by adding bass and three girls. Sybarite 5 was quickly added to my list of top discoveries at this convention, as was the evening’s featured soloist Andrés Martin, who brought the house down with performances of his own concerto and elegy. The evening closed with a quartet of jazz bass legends singing “We Love Ray Brown” over a modulation in Sweet Georgia Brown – and if that sentence means anything to you, you belong at ISB.
Graham Isaak is one of our roving reporters covering the events of ISB 2013.