We are featuring double bassist Gaelen McCormick on today’s episode. Gaelen is a member of the Rochester Philharmonic, teaches at Nazareth College and the Eastman Community Music School and is the author of Mastering the Bow, a two-part series for bass. Part one is based on the violin studies of Franz Wohlfahrt, and part two features off-the-strings strokes.
We had a wonderful conversation about her early years in music, studying with Jeff Turner for graduate school (and you can listen to Jeff on the podcast—he was a guest back on episode 26), structuring practice time, the George Vance Progressive Repertoire series, and many other topics.
Ms. McCormick has been a member of the Rochester Philharmonic’s bass section since 1995. Before joining the RPO, she held positions with regional orchestras such as the Erie (PA) Philharmonic, the Binghamton Philharmonic and the Albany Symphony. Ms. McCormick has performed regularly with other major orchestras, including the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Syracuse Symphony. She holds degrees in performance from the Eastman School and Carnegie Mellon University.
Teaching the double bass to students of all ages has become a significant part of Gaelen’s life. She joined the faculty of Nazareth College in 2010, and has been the bass instructor for the Eastman Community Music School since 2001. She enjoys working with talented high school aged string players in the summer at Eastman’s Music Horizons program where she teaches chamber music and gives bass lessons. In 2003, she was invited to teach for the year at Duquesne University’s City Music Center, a program for talented, pre-college students.
Gaelen has given masterclasses and recitals at Ithaca College, Williams College, the College of St. Rose, and Roberts Wesleyan College. In 2013, she gave classes on double bass technique at both the International Society of Bassists convention in Rochester and the NYSSMA Winter Conference. “Mastering the Bow”, the first of three books on double bass bow technique, was published by Carl Fischer in 2013, and the second will be published during the 2014 season.
Playing chamber music has been a passion for Ms. McCormick. Before moving to Rochester, she often performed with the St. Cecilia Chamber Orchestra (Albany, NY) as their sole bassist. During her tenure in Pittsburgh, she became the founding bassist of the Pittsburgh Live Music Chamber Orchestra. She was the founding member of the innovative string quintet “Gibbs and Main”, and recorded a cd of tango standards with them, and commissioned a new work for the ensemble by Judd Greenstein.
In recent summers, she has been performing with the Music in the Mountains chamber orchestra, a festival based in Durango, Colorado. She is frequently invited to play chamber music with musicians from around the country in festivals such as the Roycroft Chamber Music Festival and the Syracuse New Music Ensemble. This summer, Ms. McCormick will make her debut appearance at the Canandaigua Lake Chamber Music Festival.
Gaelen has been involved in volunteering and arts advocacy, and is proud to be the representative for the RPO in the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians. She is honored to be a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Kappa Lambda, groups recognizing and supporting excellence in the humanities and in music specifically. In her spare time, Gaelen enjoys kayaking, Argentine tango and West Coast swing dancing, and spending time with her toddler Clara.