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Happy Birthday Gary Karr Book 2

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"Gary Karr celebrates his 80th birthday on 20 November 2021 and his contribution to the double bass is incalculable, putting him in a direct line backwards to Koussevitsky, Bottesini and Dragonetti. I first heard Gary play in about 1978, when he gave a recital at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and met him afterwards. We were last in contact a few days ago and a copy of his biography, with a wonderful handwritten dedication from Gary, is one of my treasured possessions. I have heard him play many times over the past 40 years and Gary is the reason that we are where we are today. Gary paved the way for us all to make our own contribution to the double bass world and if ever there was someone worthy of a statue, it's Gary." [David Heyes / November 2020]

JOHN ALEXANDER (UK) - dark chocolate
At the central heart of this piece for unaccompanied double bass is a slow, aurally comforting arcing tune, trying to imagine what the taste of smooth chocolate might ‘sound’ like. On either side of this section of music are faster segments that depict craving, anticipation, insatiability, memory and delightful gratification. A short concluding coda reveals a dichotomy: sadness that the chocolate is now finished, but also a sense that this indulgence is completely satisfied – for now. It is fairly common knowledge that the world renowned double bassist, Gary Karr, is also an ardent chocoholic and it is a huge privilege to warmly and respectfully dedicate this piece to him in celebration of his 80th birthday. [John Alexander]

ED ALLMAN (USA) - Fanfares and Fireworks
've never had the opportunity to meet Gary Karr, but I've worked with a number of his students through the years, and one thing they all mention is his sense of humour. So right away, I knew didn't want to write a 'serious' piece. No elegies, nothing deep and significant, despite the importance of his milestone 80th. The title of the piece mostly speaks for itself: it's a modified A-B-A form, with almost comical, dissonant fanfares surrounding a light and flashing middle section, full of rockets and explosions. It's rounded off by a small coda and ends, as all such things should, with a final bang. The humour extends to the performance instructions as well, which among other things warn about the dangers of too much cake. [Ed Allman]

MARK ELLIOT BERGMAN (USA) - Gary Karr at 80!
To create the piece, I used the eight letters in Gary's name to generate a cipher (I used the 8-letter German version of the musical scale and started again with the pitch "A" when I got to "I" in the alphabet). I then repeated variations of that cipher (in transposition, retrograde, inversion, or retrograde-inversion) 10 times using exactly 80 notes thereby creating a composition for Gary's 80th birthday. [Mark Elliot Bergman]

GRAHAM BOAG (UK) - Harlequin
Harlequin is my tribute to Gary Karr I feel it reflects his fun persona and the joy he gets from showcasing the instrument. I remember watching him on a series of programs many years ago and his sheer enthusiasm for the instrument as front and centre solo instrument was infectious. This was of great encouragement to my younger self to realise that the Bass was more than just and instrument that played tonic dominant in orchestra. I hope this piece reflects Gary’s joy and love of all things Bass and perhaps you can even hear him laughing in the music. Thank you, Gary, for everything that you have done for the Double Bass over a fantastic career and here’s to many more. [Graham Boag]

Double Bass virtuoso Gary Karr will celebrate his eightieth birthday on November 20th, 2021. Recital Music, publisher of an extensive body of music for bass, has organized a project to mark this occasion and to honour Gary’s significant contribution to the world of double bass over the past 60 years of a very impressive performing career. This piece, composed for the collection, is built on a sequence of eight tones (originally generated from the letters of Gary Karr’s name): G, A, C, F, C, A#, B, C#. While the eight tones must occur in this sequence (or reversed, retrograde), they can used in any octave, may be freely repeated, and may also be played together with the note that occurs before or after (i.e., as a double stop). A number of bassist-composers are writing new pieces for the Karr @ 80 Project, and it is truly a privilege to be able to offer this humble contribution as a small part of the collection. [Michael Montgomery]

When I was asked to contribute a composition for solo double bass to celebrate Gary Karr's 80th birthday, I had to look up Mr. Karr since I did not know anything about him. I researched him and one interesting fact I found was that in 1962 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 The Carnival of the Animals. So I knew my piece was going to have something to do with that music as a tribute.
At the time of writing this piece I was in the middle of a set of pieces I call ‘Mantras’. Basically a drone and a repetitive melody on tope of the drone, with delicate development and lots of space. I decided to use parts of the Swan melody, have the bass drone one of its strings and create a sort of a short Mantra, or as I called this particular piece ‘Swan Mantra’. [Gene Pritsker]

MARY RAE (USA) - Among the Roses
'Among the Roses' was written as a tribute to Gary Karr, one of the world's premiere double bassists, on the occasion of his eightieth birthday. I do not play the double bass myself, and nor have I met Gary Karr, but I have listened to his incomparable playing with great pleasure. There is so much that goes into music, other than study and dedication. So much of a musician or composer's life that outsiders rarely see lives through their music. When I read that Gary Karr loved gardening and, in fact, had a rose created for him, I wanted to touch upon the tenderness that goes into creating a beautiful garden. 'Among the Roses' is two minutes in length. [Mary Rae]

P KELLACH WADDLE (USA) - Hartford, Connecticut; December 1985 (Impression for Solo Bass Op.682)
When yet another consortium of David Heyes’ metaphorically came across my desk as it were - this time in celebration of Gary’s 80th birthday, I decided again I would take a bit of a departure in terms of inspiration. I would take a leave from my plethora of composing about vampires and all things Gothic, sacred subject matters (especially bible verses), exaltations of capturing the mundane and everyday in bass solo works (one of my many premieres at ISB 2019 was about cleaning products, I am as of this writing writing solo bass sonatas about furniture, bread, tomatoes, and things in linen closets, among other such workaday items) - and I would indeed write in another inspirational vein I do enjoy exploring from time to time - that being my impressions and memories of visages of the places I have visited in my travels.

After a stopgap year after my June 1985 graduation from the Youth Performing Arts School in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky - I indeed began the process of applying to many, many lauded institutions. One of those was the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut where the legendary Gary Karr taught for many years.

Oh, the ignorance and folly of youth! As of this writing, I am (shudder!!) THREE TIMES the age almost as I was when this visit to Hartt occurred. Ever since i have “officially” had “soloist” added to my list of pursuits (I first got solo management in late 1999) I have adamantly refused to perform any solo work on a bass and bow that aren’t my own unless I have at MINIMUM a week with the instrument. I have so much admirable envy for my many, many colleagues who just fly to God knows where, grab their provided instrument and bow, play a few notes and give a splendid solo performance. I however, am just too abjectly terrified to do that!

But there I was, all of 18 years and 11 months old, flying to Hartford, Connecticut to meet with Gary and play two works for him on a bass and a bow I was going to have ONE HOUR with beforehand. I played the first two movements of the transcription of the second Bach viola da gamba sonata and my first ever solo bass piece that I count in my opus list. ( A piece a few months before I had first played for Bertram Turetzky - a piece that indeed is in a volume of works now in its 10th printing!) By some miracle, said playing went very well and Gary quite simply waved his hand and said “I have heard all I need to. You are a marvellous young player. I’d be thrilled if you came to study with me, now let’s go have some coffee!”

What a thrill!! - the extremely busy Gary had taken time out to listen to me, said such kind things and told me I was happily accepted to Hartt. Gary was super busy at the time with all of his traveling and we had a lovely coffee chat, and then he was off to the airport again himself. (But he returned to Hartt 36 hours later for some teaching - after which he took me to the airport himself in his gigantic silver Cadillac!! Or was it a Lincoln? Memory fails me but I know that car was almost as large as the plane in which I was flying back to Kentucky!) I ended up not attending Hartt, but when I wrote to the school and told them I had accepted an offer to attend Cincinnati Conservatory, Gary wrote me a beautiful letter saying there were no remotely hard feelings and that I was going to be a success no matter where I went to school. I still have that letter and treasure it to this day.

I was given a lovely tour of the campus by the other bass teacher at Hartt, Leland Tolo and then shown around the environs near the campus by a lovely fellow named Jim who was Leland and Gary’s TA. (Apologies Jim, nearly 36 years of life have taken your last name from my memory bank!)

This was my first trip ever to New England. A recent snow had begun to melt. It seemed that in my 2 1/2 days there in Hartford the sun never ever shined. My already brooding little teenage self adored the industrial greyness, all the dirty melting snow, all of the whole morose, darkly oppressive spirit I felt walking around such a city that December. These memories are what I reflected upon as I wrote this piece.

The piece itself is of my oft-used style of long, darkly haunting melodies but with a bit of a departure. Whereas many of my phrases in pieces like this do indeed eventually “resolve” into something traditionally cadential, in this piece many of the phrases end on very stark intervals that do NOT give a sense of “arrival,” such as a rising minor ninth. I hope the colours of these lines do indeed invoke my sense of appreciating all the grey, smoke-coloured hues I saw on my walkabouts during my visit to Hartford.

What a coming of full circle!! - From my memories of when a teenager played for the most legendary bassist in the world 36 years ago — including playing Opus 2a (!) — now I have composed a piece, Opus 682, commemorating said legend’s 80th birthday!

Happy 80th Gary!! - And as always, my profuse thanks to my dear friend David Heyes and Recital Music for this reflection and opportunity. [P Kellach Waddle]

Cat No. RM1168
Supplier Code RM1168
ComposersJohn Alexander
Graham Boag
Michael Montgomery
Gene Pritsker
Mary Rae
P Kellach Waddle
CategoryDouble Bass Solo
PublisherRecital Music
Difficulty level7 - 8, Advanced
Weight 163 grams
Availability In Preparation
See also...
RM1167  Happy Birthday Gary Karr Book 1
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