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SMTD to Host International Society of Bassists Convention

May 8, 2023 | Announcements, Communications, Guests & Masterclasses, News

SMTD will be hosting the International Society of Bassists (ISB) for its biennial convention from Monday, June 5, through Saturday, June 10. Founded in 1967, the ISB is a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to raising worldwide awareness of the double bass by inspiring, educating, and connecting people, music, and ideas through fellowship, performance, digital media, and the printed word.

Organizers anticipate more than 1,000 bassists, exhibitors, collaborative musicians, family members, and guests from around the world to arrive in Ann Arbor for the convention, which will include seminars, workshops, lecture-demonstrations, panel discussions, master classes, and exhibits. Events will take place in the Earl V. Moore Building and the Walgreen Drama Center.

Catering to bass players at all levels, the convention also includes the Young Bassists Program. Open to bassists high school age or younger, the Young Bassists Program offers master classes, technique classes, special workshops, and opportunities to play in large and small ensembles. The convention week culminates with a performance of these young bassist ensembles on Saturday, June 10.

On Monday and Tuesday, the ISB will hold performance competitions in various categories, including solo, jazz, orchestral, and young bassist. The convention will also include the tenth biennial ISB Maker’s Competition, with luthiers building a number of double basses onsite. One of the completed professional-quality, performance-ready instruments will be given away as part of the 2023 ISB Build a Bass Sweepstakes.

Chris Pedersen, kneeling, puts the final coat of varnish on a bass built by the 2017 ISB Build a Bass luthier team. Photo by Franklin Crawford

Each day of the convention will be capped off by an evening concert at the Michigan Theater. This concert series will feature a diverse array of double bass performers, including past winners of ISB competitions and notable jazz and orchestral musicians. Thursday evening’s concert, which begins at 8 p.m. and will be free and open to the public, is a tribute to Michigan bassists and will feature:

(For additional concert details, check the ISB convention page.)

Jazz legend Ron Carter appeared at the 2019 ISB convention. Headliners at the 2023 convention will take the stage at the historic Michigan Theater. Photo by Yawen Wu

Representing the host institution, SMTD double bass students, alumni, and faculty – including bassist Robert Hurst, associate professor of jazz & contemporary improvisation and a Detroit native, and Nicholas Walker, professor of double bass and a past president of ISB – will participate in the convention as volunteers and as performers. Walker noted, “The double bass and its younger sibling, the electric bass, are at the heart of so many musical genres and cultural communities across the globe, with players primarily drawn to a supportive and uplifting musical role. For this reason, we have a wonderfully diverse and supportive community who gather together as ‘a bass family’ for our biennial conventions. These events are filled with life-changing experiences and positive connections that underscore and celebrate our shared commitments to great artistry, boundless creativity, and unmitigated generosity of spirit.” 

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