CBC 171: Paul Ellison on musical athletes, period performance, and the comprehensive undergraduate experience


Paul Ellison working with young bassists.

Paul Ellison working with young bassists.

It is our pleasure to bring you this interview with Paul Ellison. Paul is chair of strings and professor of double bass at Rice University, where he has taught for the past four decades. He is the former principal bass of the Houston Symphony, former president of the International Society of Bassists, and has had a significant impact on the double bass world.  In this interview, we discuss Paul’s early background, his encounters with François Rabbath, being a musical athlete on the bass, gut strings and the adoption of steel strings, the undergraduate experience at Rice University, and many other topics.  Enjoy!

About Paul:

Performing solo and ensemble concerts as well as giving master classes on the double bass and period instruments on four continents, Paul Ellison is the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Double Bass and chair of strings at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, Visiting Artist-Faculty University of Southern California and guest tutor at the Yehudi Menuhin School, the Royal College of Music, and Bass Club, England. Current summer positions include principal bass at the Grand Teton Music Festival, faculty/performer at the Sarasota Music Festival and faculty/performer at Festival Domaine Forget, Quebec. Former students hold titled positions in major ensembles and institutions of higher learning on five continents. Previous positions include principal bass of Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Aspen Festival Orchestras (also faculty), professor of double bass and chair of strings at the University of Southern California, and president of the International Society of Bassists. Ellison was the first to receive both the diploma and teaching certificate from Institut International Rabbath, Paris.


About Jason

An active double bass performer and teacher, Jason teaches double bass at DePaul University and served on the Board of Directors of the International Society of Bassists for many years. Jason is the current President of the Illinois chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Jason has been a member of the Elgin Symphony since 2000 and has played with the Midsummer’s Music Festival in Door County for the past decade. He is a past member of the Milwaukee Ballet and IRIS Orchestra, and has performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Grant Park Symphony, and numerous other professional ensembles.


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