In an orchestra, the bass line “gives the orchestra power and direction” and the bassists play the same notes as identically as possible for the best sound, bassist Nicholas Recuber said. Alternatively, in a double bass quartet, individuality is celebrated. “In a bass quartet everyone’s individual voice really shines, we want that variation,” Recuber added.
Symphonic Salida is bringing a rare and impressive double bass quartet to perform at 7 p.m. March 23 at Salida SteamPlant. Quartet musicians are Colorado Symphony members Recuber, Jeremy Kincaid, Susan Cahill and Steve Metcalf.
“As members of the bass section in the Colorado Symphony,” Kincaid said, “there’s very little opportunity, individually, to express ourselves musically. We play the same notes and the same phrasing as the person sitting next to us, always striving to produce a unified sound. Playing in a quartet gives us that opportunity to share musical ideas that in an orchestral setting wouldn’t normally be possible.”
Kincaid suggested the performance might be more exciting for the quartet than the audience. “I think I can speak for everyone in the quartet when I say that being invited to play this concert in Salida is an honor for us and will definitely be our musical highlight of the year.”
Double bass quartets are rare, but Kincaid said they are growing in popularity. “The two main reasons (for their rarity), in my opinion, are lack of repertoire and the perception that the function of a bass player is to support the more ‘melodic’ instruments like the violin. That seems to be changing as, more and more, we’re seeing new arrangements of traditional works as well as new compositions written specifically for bass quartet.”
Recuber agreed, “Most famous composers didn’t write music for the bass quartet.” About half their concert music was written for a string quartet, the other half was written for a bass quartet.
The quartet will perform seven pieces in total. One piece by Joseph Lauber was originally written for the Berlin Philharmonic’s bass section in about 1909, Recuber said. The band will discuss more about the history of that piece during the concert.
Megan Lombardo, Symphonic Salida steering committee member, said, “It’s a very rare experience to be able to see the double bass highlighted in a quartet setup. Usually the basses stand towering to the side of the orchestra and rarely take center stage in the music. This is a chance to discover double basses in a completely new way and to have this rare opportunity in Salida is a pretty big honor.”
Symphonic Salida performances are made possible through the ongoing partnership between KHEN 106.9 FM Community Radio and the Colorado Symphony. In addition to the performance at the SteamPlant, the quartet will play Thursday afternoon at Longfellow Elementary School. Symphonic Salida sponsors the mini school concerts at no cost to the school district.
“Our purpose, whether in an orchestra or a rock band, is to drive the music both rhythmically and harmonically,” Kincaid said. “In essence, we set the tone, pun intended, for the music.”
Tickets are $18 in advance, $10 for students and $20 at the door. They can be purchased at the SteamPlant box office, Salida Chamber of Commerce or online here.