||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2011)|
November 20, 1942 |
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Genres||Classical, jazz|
|Years active||ca. 1960–2002|
ex-Bottesini 1716 Testore
Karr-Koussevitzky 1611 Amati
Although he comes from several generations of bassists, he was not encouraged by them to go into music. In an interview with ActiveBass magazine he said that he has no contact with the professional bassists in his family.
His major teachers include Herman Reinshagen and Stuart Sankey, with whom he studied at the Aspen Music Festival and the Juilliard School. Karr's breakthrough came in 1962, when he was featured as a soloist in a nationally televised New York Philharmonic Young People's Concert, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. On that famous telecast, Karr performed "The Swan" from Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns. Karr also recorded the piece with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.
He has since appeared as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Simon Bolivar Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, and with all the major orchestras of Australia. He has premiered new works written for him by Gunther Schuller (Concerto for Double Bass), Hans Werner Henze (Concerto for Double Bass), Vittorio Giannini (Psalm CXX), Alec Wilder (Sonata for Double Bass and Piano and Suite for Double Bass and Guitar), John Downey (Concerto for Double Bass), Ketil Hvoslef (Concerto for Double Bass), and Robert Xavier Rodriguez (Ursa, Four Seasons for Double Bass and Orchestra). He has recorded the Koussevitzky concerto with Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Gary Karr is known as one of the best bassists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
He has taught double bass on the faculties of the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, The Hartt School, Yale University, Indiana University, and North Carolina School of the Arts and has published a number of instructional books for the double bass. He focuses on finding one's unique sound on the double bass and approaching playing with the lyrical emphasis of a singer.
After 40 years as a concert artist he retired in 2001 to Victoria, British Columbia, where he lives with his dog Shin-Ju.
In 1967 Karr founded the International Society of Bassists (ISB), an organization devoted to the study, promotion, and advancement of double bass playing around the world. The ISB, with a membership of more than 3,000 double bass performers, teachers, students, and aficionados in more than 40 countries, hosts an international conference biannually to further these goals.
In 2005, Karr donated his primary instrument, the Karr-Koussevitzky bass, to the ISB. This instrument was given to Karr by Olga Koussevitzky, widow of Serge Koussevitzky (1874–1951), in 1961. It is the intention of the ISB to make this valuable instrument available for use by double bassists worldwide. Until recently, the Karr-Koussevitzky bass was believed to have been made by the Amati family and hence it is also referred to as the Amati bass.
The non-profit Karr Double bass Foundation, which loans instruments to promising young double bassists to assist in their professional development, was established by Karr in 1984.
- Laurence Mollerup. "Up Close And Classical with Gary Karr". ActiveBass magazine. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
- Beuerlein, Karin, "Parting Gift", All Things Strings
- Grissino-Mayer, Henri D.; Deweese, Georgina G.; Williams, Justin A. (2005). "Tree Ring Dating of the Karr-Koussevitzky Double Bass: A Case in Dendromusicology". Tree-Ring Research (Tree-Ring Society) 61 (2): 77–86. doi:10.3959/1536-1098-61.2.77. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
- Gary Karr Official website
- International Society of Bassists Official website
- Karr Doublebass Foundation Official website