Winter Double Bass Workshop 2000
Adelaide July 10th-14th
Marryatville High School
Directed by Peter McLachlan
July 10-14 was the first workshop of its type to educate and encourage young double bass players from around Australia. It was an outstanding success with 44 students coming from Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide. Each day students had lessons with visiting faculty, large group repertoire lessons, a lecture/master class and an ensemble. For 5 days bass playing skills were stretched and improved with world class teachers who imparted their musicality and love of bass playing. Francois Rabbath (France) was the grand master of the bass who amazed children with his virtuosity, humility and warmth. George Vance (USA) author of the world’s most popular bass teaching method together withJoan Wright (Perth), Ken Poggioli (Brisbane) and Peter McLachlan (Adelaide) encouraged students with their knowledge of repertoire and understanding of technique.
Three concerts brought the workshop to a close. Thursday evening Francois Rabbath amazed all with his incredible virtuosity and on Friday lunchtime the rest of the faculty played in a lunchtime concert. The finale was on Friday night with all the students and faculty playing the repertoire and ensembles prepared during the week.
Double Bass can be a very lonely instrument to learn. Often a student is the only bass player in their school. The benefits of bringing 44 bass players together was immense. They developed friendships, peer support and mentors in older and more advanced players.
I have been in the position of observing the students who attended from Adelaide and the following are the outcomes I have seen with this group.
Correct technique and musicality were reinforced each day with a different teacher. Such intense instruction coming from a diverse group of teachers resulted in student understanding that is not normally possible with one teacher.
For a child to meet and have lessons with the world’s greatest bass player is an experience he/she will always treasure. Francois Rabbath over the last 20 years has reinvented bass playing and has raised the level of performance to new levels. Having been exposed to an event like this, students have seen what is possible when playing this instrument.
Some comments from students, parents, and other teachers were:“Thank you sooooooooooo much for the bass week-it was fantastic!!! I’m really enthusiastic about practicing, which has to be a good thing.” (Pippa , Tasmania)”I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the workshop and can’t wait for the next one!!! I had a great time and learnt a lot about my playing and enjoyed getting help from lots of different teachers. I also made some really good friends.” (Alex, Adelaide)”Sincerest thanks for an unforgettable week of friendship and bass harmony” (Parent, Adelaide)
“Peter’s contribution to the bass scene in Australia is inestimable, as were the benefits to the students and teachers by the talents of George, Peter, Joan, Francois and Ken. We hope that it may be repeated one day.” (Diana, Sydney)
Review – Francois Rabbath Elder Hall Thursday July 13, 2000
Rabbath breathes life into double bass – by Rodney Smith
RARELY do you encounter an artist with so extraordinary a level of synergy in mind, body and instrument as double bass virtuoso Francois Rabbath.
One might need to go back as far as harpist Marshall McGuire in the 1996 Adelaide Festival to find such magic. As with McGuire, this was not playing in a traditional mould. Rabbath’s consummate ease, authority born of maturity and power to hold the attention of a breathlessly enthusiastic and very full Elder Hall audience for an hour and 20 minutes without a break, were all placed at the service of some very unusual music indeed, for the most part his own.
Every work was redolent with tonal subtlety of the kind usually reserved for top cellists, an extended range of pitches and bowings beyond most violinists, and the widest levels of dynamics from a whisper to a thunderous fortissimo.
The language itself was shot through with perfumed romanticism revisiting Khachaturian, Prokoflev, Faure and Rodriguez along¬side some exotic modalities. And, truth to tell, when we got briefly to real Bach it was imbued with similar characteristics. One began to wish that even two consecutive bars in the entire concert might have an even pulse.
But such yardsticks are not for Rabbath. He has shown how the double bass can be warmer, more humane and more fun, added immeasurably to its stature and given it a voice ranging from pathos to puckishness. We should be thankful for that.