The International Society of Bassists’ biennial double bass competition was held June 3-4, 2013 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Diana Gannett, professor of double bass at the University of Michigan, served as chair of this year’s competition. The five divisions were Solo, Jazz and Orchestra, with competitors from age 19 to 30, and two divisions for younger bassists, Age 15 to 18 and Age 14 and Under.
And the winners are …
Larry Hurst, Chair; James VanDemark, Jack Budrow, DaXun Zhang, Jeff Turner and Max Dimoff, judges
The Gary Karr Prize of $2,500, underwritten by Peter and Chris Gallagher, was won by Tian Yang Liu, a 28 year-old from Changsha, China, currently studying with Scott Pingel at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He also won a $500 cash prize given by Frank Proto and Liben Music for the best performance of the required piece by Nicholas Walker, Chorale, which was commissioned by Diana Gannett. Liu previously earned a graduate artist certificate at the University of North Texas under Jeff Bradetich. He first learned the bass from his father and received his bachelor’s degree from the China Conservatory in Beijing as a student of Jun Xia Hou. He was audience favorite in the 2010 Bradetich Foundation International Double Bass Competition and winner of the 2010 University of North Texas Concerto Competition, as well as grand prize winner of the 2012 Singapore International Double Bass Competition. Spotted at the airport flying home after the convention week that followed the competition, Liu confided he had told his girl friend Jessica that if he won the ISB competition, they would get married. Cue the wedding bells! In addition to the cash prize, Liu receives a bow by master maker Steven Reiley and an expenses-paid recital to open the 2015 ISB convention.
Second prize of $1,000, given by an anonymous donor, was won by 22 year-old Oscar Luque of Venezuela, a student of Professor Felix Petit. Luque also won the new Thomas Martin Prize of $500 for the best performance of a work by Bottesini, underwritten by Madeleine Crouch & Co., Inc. He studies at the Simon Bolivar Conservatory of Music in Caracas, and has toured the world as a member of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela.
Third prize of $750 was won by 23 year-old Francesco Platoni of Italy, a cum laude graduate of the Conservatory of Music in Perugia and student of Daniele Roccato. He simultaneously earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and computer engineering from the University of Perugia. Platoni is a member of Ludus Gravis, a double bass ensemble devoted to the performance of contemporary repertoire, and won first prize in the 2011 “Valentino Bucchi” double bass competition in Rome.
Tom Knific, Chair; Rufus Reid, Martin Wind, Bruce Gertz, Jeff Campbell and Lou Fischer, judges
The Scott LaFaro Prize was won by Martin Jaffe. Just two weeks short of his 19th birthday when he took first prize in the 2013 ISB jazz competition, he makes his home in Conway, Massachusetts. His jazz teachers include Avery Sharpe and Ray Drummond, and he is a self-taught jazz pianist and a composer. Jaffe is also an award-winning classical bassist who has studied with Lynn Lovell, Yasu Suzuki and Sal Macchia. Accolades for Jaffe include Most Valuable Player, Massachusetts Association for Jazz Education Western District Festival (2008), Outstanding Musicianship, Massachusetts Association for Jazz Education-Worcester (2008), and the 2011 Berklee High School Jazz Festival Superior Musicianship and Judge’s Choice Award. He has participated in the Vail Jazz Workshop, the Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony and Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Workshop. Jaffe was named one of twenty 2012 United States Presidential Scholars in the Arts. Since 2001 the $2,500 Scott LaFaro Prize has been given by the family of the late bassist who rose to fame as a member of Bill Evans’ legendary trio. Jaffe also received an amplifier from Acoustic Image, the official amplifier of the 2013 ISB convention. He will make an expenses-paid concert appearance to open the 2015 ISB convention.
Second prize of $1,000, given by Thomastik-Infeld, was won by 25 year-old Alex Frank. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied with Peter Dominguez and Eddie Gomez, he was a semi-finalist in the 2009 ISB jazz competion. Frank is the newest member of guitarist Bruce Forman’s western swing/bebop group Cow Bop, and also recently joined the Tamir Hendelman Trio.
Third prize of $750, also given by Thomastik-Infeld, was won by 30 year-old Daniel Foose of Sunnyside, NY. He earned his master’s in jazz studies with honors from the University of North Texas. His teachers include Lynn Seaton and Art Langston. Foose took third prize in the 2005 ISB jazz competion at Western Michigan University.
Honorable mentions were given to Noah Jackson of New York, NY and Gavin Kelso of Fort Worth, TX.
Leigh Mesh, Chair; Alex Hanna, Dennis Whittaker, Jeremy McCoy, Douglas Sommer and Michael Fuller, judges
The Tony Bianco Prize of a week’s paid internship with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, made possible by family and friends of Tony Bianco, was won by 29 year-old Christopher Johnson. Johnson earned his bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory and a master’s degree in orchestral performance from the Manhattan School of Music. His major teachers include Timothy Cobb, Donald Palma, Hal Robinson, Denis Roy, Eric Larson and Orin O’Brien. He is rotating principal bass of both the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of New York and principal bass with the Ubuntu-Shruti NY Ensemble. Johnson is also an instructor at the Four Strings Academy in Boston. He has participated in masterclasses with Yo Yo Ma, Thomas Martin, Jeff Turner, Paul Ellison, Ed Barker and Edgar Meyer, and performed with the Pacific Music Festival, Verbier Festival Orchestra, the International Contemporary Ensemble and the National Repertory Orchestra.
Second prize of $1,000, given by Orin O’Brien of the New York Philharmonic, was won by Michael Priester, age 30, from Bloomington, IN. He is a candidate for the doctorate of music from Indiana University, and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. His major teachers include Deborah Taylor, Al Laszlo and Bruce Bransby.
Third prize of $750 was a tie, awarded jointly to 23 year-old Kieran Hanlon of Rochester, NY, and 28 year-old Jonathan Colbert of Atlanta, GA. Kieran Hanlon is currently pursuing his master’s of music at the Eastman School of Music, where he is a student of and teaching assistant to James VanDemark, and an intern member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Jonathan Colbert earned a bachelor of music degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a performance diploma from the Juilliard School. Colbert’s original flight into Rochester for the competition was cancelled and his own bass didn’t make the rescheduled flight. He walked onto the stage from a cab from the airport with a borrowed instrument to earn a share of third prize and admiration for his nerves of steel.
A special judges’ prize was awarded to 29 year-old Amanda RIce-Johnston for her stand-out performance of the double bass solo from Verdi’s opera, Otello.
AGE 15-18 DIVISION
Han Han Cho, chair; Hector Tirado, David Murray, Irena Olkiewicz, Volkan Orhon and Fausto Borem, judges
First prize of $1,000, given by ISB past president John Kennedy, was won by 17 year-old Zhixiong Liu of Hangzhou, China. He will also receive a carbon fiber bow from Olivier Philippot and Carbow. Liu first studied piano with his father, and only began learning to play the double bass five years ago. He studied with Professor Luo Bing at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Middle School, and has taken lessons with Professor Bo Yuan, Silvio Dalla Torre, DaXun Zhang, Yuan Xiong Lu and Ziping Chen, among others. In 2011 he won first prize in the Junior Division of China’s “Zhong Yin”Cup Double Bass Competition. He is now studying at the University of Music in Lausanne, Switzerland on scholarship.
Second prize of $500, underwritten by Music Teachers National Association, was won by 17 year-old Philip Nelson, who studies at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, England with Caroline Emery. Philip also shared the new Thomas Martin Prize for best performance of a work by Bottesini, underwritten by Madeleine Crouch & Co., Inc., with Lena Goodson of York, Pennsylvana.
Third prize of $250, given by Buell Neidlinger and Margaret Storer, was won by 18 year-old Anabel Yi Hsuan Chiu of Natick, MA, where she is a student of Pascale Delache-Feldman at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts.
AGE 14 AND UNDER
Linda McKnight, chair; Douglas Mapp, Louis Pappas, Paul Robinson, John Schimek and Inez Wyrick, judges
First prize of $500, given by ISB board member Alan Lewine, was won by 14 year-old Daniel Tancredi of Marietta, GA. As a freshman, he is principal bass with the Pope High School Mastery Orchestra, and was third chair bassist with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra for its 2012-2013 season. He is also principal bass for the Georgia All State Orchestra for 2013. He was 2010 winner of the junior high division of the Georgia College & State University solo competition, which earned him the opportunity to solo with a college orchestra. Daniel was invited to watch a Berlin Philharmonic rehearsal and concert in 2012, and had masterclasses with Michael Wolf, double bass professor at the University of the Arts in Berlin, and Rinat Ibragimov, then principal bass with the Londn Symphony Orchestra. In addition to a cash prize, he also won a custom bass bag from the Mooradian Cover Company.
Second prize of $250, given by ISB board member and secretary David Murray, was won by 13 year-old William McGregor of Malvern, PA. He is a student in the Juilliard School Pre-College Program, where he studies with Albert Laszlo.
Third prize of $100, given by John, Penny and Joel Schimek, was won by 13 year-old Noah Bailyn of Carlsbad, CA. He has studied with Bert Turetzky since 2008, and performed at the 2013 ISB convention’s 80th birthday tribute to his teacher.
- Gold Medal – Guy Cole
- Convention Favorite – Mario Lamarre
- Silver for Tone – Tetsu Suzuki
- Silver for Tone – Chris Roberts
- Silver for Workmanship – Anton Krutz
- Silver for Workmanship – Mario Lamarre
Makers Competition “Honorable Mention for Convention Favorite”:
- Gary Upton & Eric Roy
- Arnold Schnitzer
- Gianfranco Fiorini
Makers Competition “Certificate for Workmanship”:
- Trevor Davis
- Gary Upton & Eric Roy
- Nick Lloyd
Makers Competition “Certificate for Tone”:
- Christiano Scipioni
- William Lakeberg
- Keiran O’Hara
- Arnold Schnitzer
- Matthew Tucker
- Nick Lloyd
- Mario Lamarre
- Christopher Savino