MSFO bassists drop ‘terrifying’ recital

Amanda Mainguy | Staff Photographer
The Music Festival School Orchestra bassists will have a recital at 2 p.m. Saturday in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall. From left: Nolan Center, Josh Harrison, David Chapman-Orr, Brendan Fitzgerald, Kassie Ferrero, Curtis Burris, Antonio Escobedo, Sara Neilson.

The double bass may not be the grand star of an orchestra, but it knows how to play its position.

Standing almost 6 feet tall, the bass is the gentle giant of the orchestra. With its deep, smoky sound and steady rhythm, it provides the foundation for orchestral pieces, but this weekend the double bass players of the Music School Festival Orchestra hope to show a side of the bass that Curtis Burriss said “is a bit terrifying.”

In an event that does not occur often, at 2 p.m. Saturday in McKnight Hall, the double bass players of the MSFO will come out from the shadows and give a recital solely for the bass.

“It shows the bass player in a different context and it’s terrifying at the same time,” said Burris, strings chair and double bass instructor. “It’s really easy for us to hide away in an orchestra and play very simple bass lines. When you take the player who’s used to being in a simple setting and you put them on stage under the spotlight and playing different kind of music, it can be terrifying because we don’t do it that much.”

For over a quarter-century, Burris has been leading the bass recital. He said the program provides the students, as well as Chautauquans, a chance to appreciate all that the bass has to offer.

“It gives [the students] a confidence in themselves and in the instrument itself, in that the bass can be beautiful,” Burris said. “In Chautauqua you have the potential to see and hear something totally different that you might not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience.”

Northwestern University master’s student Josh Harrison said that he is excited to give audiences a taste of all that the bass can do.

“The bass has a different flavor,” he said. “This recital shows the base in a capacity other than an accompanimental one. We get to show of a little bit more and have fun playing high notes.”

Proceeds from today’s event will benefit the Chautauqua Women’s Club Scholarship Fund.