Posts Tagged ‘Armand Russell’

Catching Up

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

As usual, it’s been a while since writing a post for this blog. Here’s a very quick entry about what’s going on and what’s next.

We had our performance at North Shore Baptist Church on the 13th of October. While the turn out was a little light, it went well. The organizer, accompanist and piano tuner Randall Fleer, seemed pleased; and we agreed that part of the reason was probably the fact that it was a holiday weekend. A group from the Breakers retirement community was in attendance, and I was tickled when one of them told me “I never would have come to this if it was violins!”

One of the things low on my to-do list–not because it’s unimportant, but because so much else is on the list–is to get programs from the October 13 performance out to composers and publishers of the pieces we performed. *mock sigh* One of the hazards of playing music by living composers! Thank you to all of you for writing music for double basses!

As I began to play François Rabbath’s Pucha Dass, I had a moment of internal panic, wondering if the seniors in the crowd would be disgusted and horrified by this moody and dramatic modern piece. But it went well and received solid applause. On reflection I realized that the people we call ‘seniors’ today were in early adulthood or early middle age when the piece was written and when composers like Stockhausen, Feldman and Subotnick were achieving prominence. This isn’t foreign music to these people. If they were music lovers at that time in their lives, they might have attended performance of works that are considerably more avant-garde than this one. Understand your audience!

Next, we’re on tap for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater bass festival (last year’s page is still up as I write). A different set of players this time: Julian Romane–who played so brilliantly on Armand Russell’s Ultra Rondo, Josh Harrison–a participant in many of our reading sessions, and John Tuck–one of the first “Four Js” who performed at UW-W many years ago. I’m waiting for bios and vehicle information from some of these guys, keep an eye out for updates.

And we’re hoping to pull together Frank Proto’s bass quartet for the next Chicago Bass Festival on Feb 2, 2014. This is part of an excellent plan that is receiving mediocre execution. I confess, it’s my inaction that needs to change!

As I write this, I’m very pleased to see that instead of just leaving last year’s web page in place, the MYA has created a placeholder page for the next festival that has current information. Thank you, MYA! It will be much easier to tell students and colleagues about the festival with that page in place.

Those of you with the ability to read the English language have no doubt grimaced more than once about the switching of voice (from first person singular to first person plural) throughout this, and all, my blog posts. We’d love to read your criticism of my linguistic style in the comments!

Jacque Harper

Experimental Sound Studio, February 3, 2012

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Chicago Bass Ensemble and friends Jeff Greene and Doug Johnson will play a set of music and Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio.

February 3, 2012, 8 pm.
5925 North Ravenswood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60660

Admission $10/$8 ESS members and students.

Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1986, dedicated to the promotion, production, presentation, and preservation of innovative and diverse approaches to the sonic arts, and to the integration of these art forms into the public. They host a great diversity of artists of all kinds, and we’re honored to be able to premiere Mike Wittgraf’s Autogenous Mining at ESS.

We’ll be joined by friends Jeff Greene and Doug Johnson. Doug is a former member of CBE (ha! once a member, always a member!), and a founder of Gunnelpumpers and Spiritflake Records. Jeff is a bassist, composer and winner of the 2010 composition contest of the International Society of Bassists.


  • Russell, Ultra-Rondo, Chicago Bass Ensemble
  • Greene, Jeff, The Range of Their Vision, Jeff Greene
  • Guy, Barry, Anaklasis, Jeff Greene and Dan Thatcher
  • Johnson, Clevenjourney N71, Douglas Johnson
  • Wittgraf, Autogenous Mining for double bass quartet and interactive electronics, Chicago Bass Ensemble [premiere]


  • Jacque Harper
  • Anton Hatwich
  • Julian Pat Romane
  • Dan Thatcher
  • Jeff Greene
  • Doug Johnson


Ultra-Rondo for double bass quartet was composed in 2002 and revised in 2011. The first bass part is given more prominence than the other parts in a, in addition to being more active, it employs a higher range. Occasionally the other three parts are given prominence, however, and from time to time the participate in various duets and trios, and sub-groupings of the ensemble.

The pieces is in three broad sections (fast-slow-fast) in which a rondo pattern is embedded. The first part has three sections (ABA), the middle slow part has three sections (BCB) and the final part has four sections (CACA).

The Range of Their Vision

The Range of Their Vision, a composition for solo acoustic bass and electronics, received the 2010 ISB/David Walter Composition Competition and was premiered at San Francisco State University during the 2011 International Society of Bassists’ convention.


Written by Barry Guy for himself and Stefano Scodanibbio, 2002. The score is a graphic representation of extended techniques for the double bass. Lines of demarcation separate different domains with distinct musical material. Of the instrumentation, Guy says “There could be a version for cellos, but it wouldn’t work for violins, for instance, because they’re not resonant enough. The point of the title is a reflection of sound re-echoing to resound and reverberate. In this early domain [a section of the graphical score] I indicate that paintbrushes are to be put through the strings and used as an oscillator. Because of the length of the bass strings, it gives a certain effect that would be lost on other instruments.”

The score and in interview with Barry Guy can be found at


Throughout human history, shamans have used rhythm and sound to help travel to nonordinary reality in altered states of consciousness. Such journeys enable the shaman to seek the guidance of spirit helpers, and are usually performed for the healing of others and to help their communities. While ancient, time-tested methods are still common practice, many modern-day shamans have adapted these concepts for more contemporary settings as well. “Clevinjourneys” are long-form, mostly improvised works for 6-string Clevinger bass and effects pedals. They first came about as a collaboration with the shamans in my life who expressed interest in using music of the spirit as a vehicle for shamanic journeys. As the performer, I, too, am on a journey, taking care to keep the music interesting while maintaining a seamless flow.

Autogenous Mining

Written by Michael Wittgraf for the Chicago Bass Ensemble, 2011. The piece calls for all four basses to have a separate microphone, which are processed (via an Apogee Ensemble and Pacarana sound processor) using KYMA software. The computer operator follows a score and interacts live with the performers, manipulating the sounds with a Wii remote and other hardware. Composer Mike Wittgraf will join the Chicago Bass Ensemble for the premiere of this work.

Chicago Bass Festival, February 5, 2012

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

We’re on tap for a performance at the Chicago Bass Festival (link still showing 2011 information–visit the Facebook page instead).

February 5, 2012, 2:00 pm.
On the grounds of Ravinia Festival Park
Highland Park, IL

Admission included in Bass Festival registration.

(If you’re interested in hearing us perform, but don’t want to register for the entire Bass Festival, please contact me. Perhaps I can arrange something!)

For the Bass Festival, we’ll take on a somewhat more challenging (musically/for the listener) program than for our January performance. It includes a world-premiere of a piece for double bass quartet and interactive electronics.

Program (mostly for certain*):

  • Wittgraf, Autogenous Mining for double bass quartet and interactive electronics
  • Russell, Ultra-Rondo
  • deVictoria arr. Cameron, Three Spanish Motets
  • Garcia, A Night in Compostela
  • perhaps some amusing selections from Miloslav Gajdos
  • Jacque Harper
  • Anton Hatwich
  • Julian Pat Romane
  • Dan Thatcher

Links for the Bass Festival:

* in the spirit of blogging, I will update this list as plans firm up!

First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights, January 15, 2012

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Sunday, January 15, 2012, 4:00 pm
First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights (link to music series)
302 North Dunton Ave, Arlington Heights 60004

Free admission with a free-will offering taken.

For this concert, we’ll be taking an old music/new music approach. There is a lot of great music being written NOW! for double basses, and we’ll play some of the nicest and most recent examples. Note: this does NOT mean the atonal or extremely challenging to the listener of so-called “modern” music! We will make two U.S. premieres of works by living composers.

Music from earlier times also adapts very well to the double bass quartet, so we will mix things up and do some of that music as well.

Program consists of:

  • Henry Purcell, arr. K. Stoll, Air and Dance
  • Tomas Luis de Victoria, arr. M. Cameron, Three Spanish Motets:
    O magnum mysterium, O quam gloriosum est regnum, O vos homnes
  • Hadyn, arr. A. Hatwich Adagio, for solo double bass with bass trio accompaniment.
  • Jan Alm, Quartet #1
  • Armand Russell, Ultra-Rondo (U.S. premiere)
  • Simón García, A Night in Compostela (U.S. premiere)
  • Jacque Harper
  • Anton Hatwich
  • Julian Pat Romane
  • Dan Thatcher
* in the spirit of blogging, I will update this list as plans firm up!
–program updated 7 and 8 December 2011
–confirmed U.S. premiere status on 12 December 2011
–program updated 27 December 2011
–order of program updated 14 January 2012