Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra

Gary Karr will be performing on Oct. 14 at the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center.


On Monday world renowned double bassist Gary Karr will be making his return to Gonzaga for the season opener for the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra (GSO).

This is the third time that he’s performing with the orchestra. The first time there was a violin soloist, who was concert master of the metropolitan opera, and she had recorded with him and that’s how Kevin Hekmatpanah, director of the GSO and professor of music, got in contact with him. The second time they premiered a double bass concerto written for Karr. Now, he’s coming back to perform a pair of very famous double bass solos.

“I wanted him to have an opportunity to come back and play what he’s comfortable playing,” Hekmatpanah said.

Karr will be playing two pieces for his part of the concert, both of which are calling cards for him. The pieces he will be playing include the work of Dragonetti and Bottesini. Also, during the first half of the concert GSO will be playing a piece by Dvorak.

“[The audience] should expect a passionate and powerful symphony on the first half and to be dazzled by one of the great double bass virtuosos of the 20th and 21st centuries that you will not hear playing on the double bass anywhere else,” Hekmatpanah said.

He decided to come back to GU because of the amazing experiences he has had in the past as well as his relationship with Hekmatpanah.

“I’m really retired basically, so I’m not doing many concerts at all," Karr said. "I can pick and choose what I want to do, and I just had so much fun."

Hekmatpanah noted the stage presence Karr brings when he plays.

“There are some artists who give a fantastic performance and they’re amazing to work with but you don’t necessarily feel that the person is someone who wants to come back, but [Karr] is somebody who is so generous with his time and his spirit and he is so easy going and fun to work with,” Hekmatpanah said. “He is a consummate state man, he will have the antics and he will talk and joke with the audience. He has become a favorite of the city because of these concerts.”

Karr said that one of his favorite feelings when playing in a concert is seeing audiences smile when he plays. It’s also a big reason he has returned to GU multiple times.

He said that the pieces he has chosen for this concert are serious but have very fun moments and he is sure that the audience will get a kick out of the performance.

Karr looks forward to playing with the orchestra next week and Hekmatpanah and his students are excited to host him again for an unforgettable performance.

“There are so few soloists on the double bass and someone like that is an icon, Hekmatpanah said. "If you bring in a famous piano soloist there may be 200 of them, but this is one."

The concert is on Monday, Oct. 14  at 7:30 p.m. in the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $13 for students and seniors and free for GU students, faculty and staff.

Riley Utley is a news editor. Follow her on Twitter: @rileyutley.

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