Performances & Events


Covering All the (Stringed) Basses: An Overview of European and American Bass Instruments

Kenneth Slowik Lecture - The Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments Virginia Martin Howard Lecture Series

October 5, 2023 | 7:30 pm

Stamps Auditorium
Walgreen Drama Center
1226 Murfin Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Free - no tickets required

Renowned multi-instrumentalist and conductor Kenneth Slowik will present a lecture about European and American bass instruments, including cellos, violas da gamba, and double basses. Ranging from three to six strings, examples of several instruments from the Stearns Collection will be available for examination at the lecture.

This program was made possible by a grant from the Arts Initiative at the University of Michigan.


Artistic Director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society, KENNETH SLOWIK first established his international reputation primarily as a cellist and viola da gamba player through his work with the Smithsonian Chamber Players, Castle Trio, Smithson String Quartet, Axelrod Quartet, and with Anner Bylsma’s L’Archibudelli. Conductor of the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra since 1988, he became conductor of the Santa Fe Bach Festival in 1998, and led the Santa Fe Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra from 1999-2004. He is now devoting increasing amounts of time to conducting orchestral, oratorio, and operatic repertoire with modern- and period-instrument ensembles on both sides of the Atlantic.

Slowik has been a featured instrumental soloist and/or conductor with numerous orchestras, among them the National Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, l’Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, the Vancouver Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra. A frequent guest artist with prominent chamber groups as well as with most of the leading U.S. early music ensembles, he enjoys providing the organ or harpsichord continuo for performances of large-scale baroque works at various festivals in the United States and abroad, and appears in recital both as harpsichord soloist and fortepiano collaborator for duo sonatas and Lieder.

Slowik’s impressive discography comprises over sixty recordings featuring him as conductor, cellist, gambist, barytonist and keyboard player for music ranging from the Baroque (Marais, Corelli, Bach) through the Classical (Haydn, Boccherini, Beethoven, Schubert) and Romantic (Mendelssohn, Gade, Spohr) to the early twentieth century (Schöenberg, Mahler, Richard Strauss). Of these, many have won prestigious international awards, including France’s Diapason d’Or and Choc, the “British Music Retailers’ Award for Excellence,” Italy’s Premio Internazionale del Disco Antonio Vivaldi, two GRAMMY® nominations, and numerous “Record of the Month” and “Record of the Year” prizes.

As an educator, Dr. Slowik has presented lectures at colleges and universities throughout the United States and has contributed to a number of symposia and colloquia at museums throughout the United States and Europe. He received the Smithsonian Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award in 2011. He serves on the faculty of L’Académie Internationale du Domaine Forget in Québec, and was named Artistic Director of the Baroque Performance Institute at the Oberlin College Conservatory in 1993.

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