Source: From the Top at Carnegie Hall: "Musical Traditions"
From the Top at Carnegie Hall: "Musical Traditions"
You can see the full episode and a more complete lesson plan at the From the Top at Carnegie Hall Web site.
Exclusive corporate funding provided by Liberty Mutual. Additional funding provided by the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Helen and Peter Bing, and the E.H.A. Foundation.
In this performance video segment from From the Top at Carnegie Hall, fifteen-year-old double bassist Kiyoe Wellington plays a haunting piece by French composer François Rabbath on her grandfather's double bass, accompanied by pianist Christopher O'Riley. Listen for the low, sonorous tones that convey great depth of feeling.
François Rabbath (born in Syria in 1931) came from a musical family. He had three sisters and five brothers (later forming a trio with two of them in Paris to accompany cabaret singer Charles Azvanour). His mother's singing also served as part of his inspiration. He discovered the double bass (also known as the contrabass or upright bass) on his own and learned to play with only the aid of a used contrabass method textbook he found. With no formal teacher to guide his studies, Rabbath relied on his own imagination to solve difficulties he encountered in his practicing. These techniques, which he later published, became the foundation of the Rabbath method. There is great controversy in the double bass world about his method, which has both its champions and opponents. The alternate method, associated with teacher Franz Simandl, uses the left (fingering, as opposed to bowing) hand very differently. Rabbath has been called the "Paganini of the double bass"—pushing the traditional boundaries of the instrument's repertoire to include solos that can be described as no less than virtuosic. He is as comfortable playing jazz and "world" music as he is with the classical genre.
"Reitba" is a haunting, meditative piece, published as part of a set called "Two Miniatures for Double Bass and Piano." In addition to performances of his own works, Rabbath has recorded Bach, Vivaldi, and jazz. He also collaborates with American composer and double bassist Frank Proto, who has written several commissioned works for Rabbath.
Like Rabbath, Kiyoe Wellington comes from a musical family. Kiyoe's grandfather was a renowned double bass player, and her uncle also plays the instrument. Kiyoe began her lessons with her grandfather, George Wellington, Sr., when she was only six and studied with him every day. When she was 13, she played "Reitba" for Rabbath at a contrabass festival in Hawaii that her grandfather founded. In this segment, she plays her grandfather's instrument on the stage at Carnegie Hall barefoot—because that is how she learned and practices at home in Hawaii.
To learn more about Kiyoe's musical life and to hear her play on From the Top's radio program, check out From the Top.
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