We’re featuring San Francisco Symphony Principal Double Bass and University of Michigan faculty member Scott Pingel on this week’s show. In addition to holding down the principal bass chair for the San Francisco Symphony, Scott taught for several years at the San Francisco Conservatory, and he served as Principal Bass of the Charleston Symphony prior to his appointment in San Francisco.
This was really a great interview, and it was a pleasure to connect again with Scott (we played together for the Spoleto Festival over a decade ago). You’ll learn a lot about how Scott approaches practicing for auditions, his interesting path to becoming a bass player, and the instruments and bows on which he has spent the last several years performing.
Scott Pingel began playing the double bass at age 17 because of a strong interest in jazz, Latin, and classical music. In 2004, at age 29, he became the principal bass of the San Francisco Symphony and was named by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the most prominent additions to the ensemble.
Previously, Pingel served as principal bass of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, performed with the Metropolitan Opera, the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, and served as guest principal with the National Arts Center Orchestra in Canada. His solo performances with ensembles such as the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Academy Orchestra, and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and in recitals frequently consisting of his own arrangements, have been met with high critical acclaim. As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with such luminaries as Yo-Yo Ma, Julia Fischer, Gilbert Kalish, Wu Han, Joseph Silverstein, Yefim Bronfman, and members of the esteemed Emerson, Miro, Pacifica, St. Lawrence, Danish, and Takacs Quartets. He can often be heard at the Music@Menlo and Music in the Vineyards festivals and on television and radio programs including NPR’s Performance Today.
Formerly active as a jazz musician and electric bassist, Pingel worked with greats including Michael Brecker, Geoff Keezer, and James Williams, and performed in venues from Birdland in New York to Fasching in Stockholm. Pingel has taught masterclasses at prestigious institutions such as the Curtis Institute of Music, The Julliard School, Colburn School, Boston University, Manhattan School of Music, Shanghai Conservatory, Beijing Central Conservatory, and the New World Symphony. Pingel’s primary instructors were James Clute, Peter Lloyd, and Timothy Cobb. He earned a BM degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, a MM degree from the Manhattan School of Music, and spent two years as a fellow at the New World Symphony.
Outside of music, Pingel spent many years studying the ancient Korean martial art of Hwa Rang Do, in which he holds a black belt. He was an instructor at the Madison Academy of Hwa Rang Do and founded the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Hwa Rang Do/Tae Soo Do Program, which continues to this day. Pingel lives in Ann Arbor with his wife, Iris, and their daughters, Hannah and Sophia.