John Grillo


CBC 186: Barrie Kolstein on making rosin, lessons learned from his father, and bass trunk technology

Barrie Kolstein of Kolstein's.

Barrie Kolstein of Kolstein’s.

John Grillo and I recorded this interview with Barrie Kolstein back in 2008, and it has proven to be a very popular episode in the catalog. Barrie runs the Kolstein shop Long Island, and his instruments have been utilized by Jeff Turner of the Pittsburgh Symphony, James Van Demark of the Eastman School of Music, Scott Haigh of the Cleveland Orchestra, and many others.

John Grillo has been frequenting the Kolstein shop for years, and it was great to have John in on the conversation.  This was a great chat about all sorts of bass-related topics.

About Barrie Kolstein:

1967-1971 Kolstein basses
State University of New York at Albany
Obtained a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration and Marketing.
1967-1973
Formally studied the Double Bass under the pedagogues: Frederick Zimmermann, Assistant Principal of the New York Philharmonic; Orin O’Brien, New York Philharmonic; Georges Andre, Metropolitan Opera; Robert Gladstone, Principal Bassist Detroit Symphony; Samuel Hollingsworth, Principal Bassist Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; David Holland, renowned Jazz artist.
1971-1974
Served in formal apprenticeship for instrument and bow restoration, construction and appraisals, under the expert auspices of renowned violin and bow maker, restorer, and appraiser, Samuel Kolstein.
1974-1978
Served as staff instrument and bow restorer as well as making numerous new violin and celli with Samuel Kolstein.
1979
Promoted to head violin master in the shop of Samuel Kolstein.
1981
Assumed full business responsibilities for operating all aspects of Samuel Kolstein & Son, Ltd. and Kolstein Music, Inc.
1981 to present
Head violin maker, restorer, and appraiser with a staff of nine violin makers working under his supervision.
Published numerous technical articles on restoration and appraisals in the International Society of Bassists with feature article published in the Strad, February 1991; presently editor of the “Luthier Corner” in the International Society of Bassists magazine restoration and repair forum; published regularly in the Double Bassist magazine and the Strad magazine, both of London, England, since 1996. These articles have ranged form interviews with makers and performers, technical articles on repair/making, and expert appraisal articles on historic master makers; featured in the violinmaking segment of Robin Lehman’s documentary, Young Peoples Guide to the Orchestra; contacted to appear in the upcoming educational video on “Careers in Music”. On the expert appraisers staff of Art Conservation fine arts adjusters as a String Instrument and Bow Expert.

Barrie Kolstein has completed well over one hundred instruments (Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass Violins) utilized by renowned players including Jeffrey Turner, Pittsburgh Symphony; Robert Gladstone, Detroit Symphony; James Van Demark, Professor of Double Bass Eastman School of Music and world famous soloist; Charles Urbont, Metropolitan Opera; James Clute, Minnesota Symphony Orchestra; David Sheets, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Lou Norton, New York Philharmonic; Caitlyn Kamanga, Hong Kong Philharmonic;, Scott Haig, Assistant Principal Bassist, Cleveland Orchestra; Hienrich Joachim, renowned soloist and former member of the New York Philharmonic; Lew Norton, New York Philharmonic; Barbara Yendell, Hong Kong Philharmonic, to name a few! Mr. Kolstein is a member of:

Appraisers Association of America, 1994 to present
International Society of Bassists, 1979 – present
Violin Society of America, 1980 – present
Viola Congress, 1983 – present
Cello Congress, 1982 – present
Listed in The Violin Makers of the United States, by Thomas J. Wenberg, Mount Hood Publishing Company, 1986.


CBC 174: Per questa bella mano with John Grillo

Grillo new photoToday’s episode features longtime collaborator John Grillo performing Mozart’s aria Per questa bella mano. So, today’s episode features John performing Per Questa Bella Mano with John Dennison singing and Andrew Hauze on piano.

In addition to being our third interview guest for the podcast way back in 2007 (almost ten years ago at this point!), John and I have co-interviewed many prominent bassists over the years, including Lawrence Hurst (which we re-released a few weeks ago in a newly edited format), Ed Barker, Max Dimoff, and many others.

We’ve also featured quite a bit of John’s bass playing here, including a complete recital featuring music of Bach, Schubert, Dave Anderson, and Stanley Chepaitis. We also featured a couple of really interesting episodes covering orchestra excerpts and opera excerpts with an analysis of each excerpt followed by a performance from John of that excerpt. these are extremely useful practice guides—definitely check these out if you haven’t before—it’s episode 41 for the orchestra excerpts and episode 62 for the opera excerpts.

If you have the app, just search for “John Grillo” and you’ll find all of these episodes. I hope you enjoy this, and stay tuned for more from John in the future!


CBC 168: Lawrence Hurst Interview (complete)

Lawrence Hurst

Former Indiana University and University of Michigan double bass professor Lawrence Hurst is featured on this week’s show.

We are featuring our complete interview with former Indiana University and University of Michigan double bass professor Lawrence Hurst on this week’s Contrabass Conversations episode.  This interview was broadcast in the early days of this show in three separate parts, and we are pleased to present the complete and uninterrupted interview on this week’s show.  This episode was co-hosted by John Grillo.  Enjoy!

About Lawrence Hurst:

Lawrence Hurst began his musical studies on the piano accordion at the age of four. At 13, he started studying the double bass through the public school system of his hometown, Norfolk, Virginia. After serving two years with the Seventh Army Symphony, he started his professional career as principal bassist with the Dallas Symphony under Sir Georg Solti. He joined the music faculty at the University of Michigan School of Music in 1964. During his tenure at Michigan, he chaired the String Department and was Associate Dean and Director of the University Division of the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan.

In 1986 he joined the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana Universtiy and was the chair of the String Department from 1987 until 2012. In 1967, he joined the summer faculty of the famed National Music Camp (now the Interlochen Arts Camp) and has taught there every summer since. His students can be found in orchestras and musical venues all over the world, including the orchestras of Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Atlanta, The Metropolitan Opera, St. Louis, and Milwaukee, to name a few. In 2005 he was given the American String Teacher’s Association Artist/Teacher of the Year Award, and, in 2006, the International Society of Bassists (of which he is past president) gave him the Distinguished Teaching Award. In JUne, 2013, the ISB also awarded him the Distinguished Achievement Award. He retired from the Jacobs School of Music in June 2012, whereupon his former students initiated an endowment scholarship and medal for double bassists in his name.

phone (call-in number–we’ll play your message on the show!): 415-952-5643

CBC 165: Ed Barker Interview (from the archives)

Boston Symphony Principal Bass Ed Barker

Boston Symphony Principal Bass Ed Barker

Here’s another popular episode from the Contrabass Conversations archives.  If you haven’t check this episode out before (or even if you have), you’ll be in for a real treat as we explore the world of the double bass with Mr. Barker.

We’re featuring Boston Symphony Principal Bassist Ed Barker on this week’s Contrabass Conversations episode. Conducted by Contrabass Conversations co-host John Grillo, this episode features John chatting with Ed about his early years on the bass, his schooling and time spent in the Chicago Symphony prior to his appointment with the Boston Symphony, and in-depth look at articulation on the bass, and a discussion on practicing. We hope you enjoy this conversation with this modern master performer and teacher of the double bass!

About Ed Barker:

Edwin Barker is recognized as one of the most gifted bassists on the American concert scene. Acknowledged as an accomplished solo and ensemble player, Mr. Barker has concertized in North America, Europe, and the Far East.

Edwin Barker has performed and recorded with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, and with the contemporary music ensemble Collage, a Boston – based contemporary music ensemble, and is a frequent guest performer with the Boston Chamber Music Society. Mr. Barker gave the world premiere of James Yannatos’ Concerto for Contrabass and Chamber Orchestra and of Theodore Antoniou’s Concertino for Contrabass and Chamber Orchestra ; he was the featured soloist in the New England premiere of Gunther Schuller’s Concerto for Double Bass and Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the composer with The Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra.

Mr. Barker graduated with honors from the New England Conservatory in 1976, where he studied double bass with Henry Portnoi. That same year, while a member of the Chicago Symphony, he was appointed at age 22 to the position of principal double bass of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His other double bass teachers included Peter Mercurio, Richard Stephan, Angelo LaMariana, and David Perleman.

Mr. Barker was invited to inaugurate the 100th anniversary season of the Boston Symphony Orchestra with a solo performance of the Koussevitzky Bass Concerto; other solo engagements have included appearances at Ozawa Hall (Tanglewood), Carnegie Recital Hall’s “Sweet and Low” series, and at major universities and conferences throughout the world, as well as concerto performances with the Boston Classical Orchestra, the Athens State Orchestra (Greece) and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston and Europe. He was a featured premiere soloist with the Boston Symphony of John Harbison’s Concerto for Bass Viol and Orchestra at Tanglewood’s 2007 Festival of Contemporary Music.

Mr. Barker is an Associate Professor at the Boston University College of Fine Arts where he teaches double bass, orchestral techniques, and chamber music. His other major teaching affiliations include the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Center, where he is Chairman of Instrumental and Orchestral Studies.

Edwin Barker’s solo CD recordings include Three Sonatas for Double Bass, on Boston Records, James Yannatos’ Variations for Solo Contrabass, on Albany Records, and Concerti for Double Bass, on GM Recordings, which includes bass concerti by Gunther Schuller and Theodore Antoniou. Concerti for Contrabass also includes his highly praised performance of Tom Johnson’s Failing , which was recorded live at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater. Edwin Barker’s latest solo offering on CD is a recently released performance of James Yannatos’ Concerto for Contrabass with Collage.

This episode originally aired on June 6, 2009. Enjoy!


CBC 157: Koussevitzky recordings

This week on Contrabass Conversations, we’re bringing you rare footage of Serge Koussevitzky performing a few selections. Enjoy this trip back in double bass history, brought to you by double bassist John Grillo.

Contrabass Conversations.png

Previous Contrabass Conversations episodes featuring John Grillo include:


CBC 155: Frederick Zimmermann practice tapes

We’re featuring practice tapes from the hugely influential double bass performer and pedagogue Frederick Zimmermann on this week’s Contrabass Conversations episode. Co-host John Grillo unearthed and transferred these tapes of Zimmermann practicing, and he and I briefly chat about how these tapes helped to shape John’s concept of sound on the double bass. Enjoy!

About Frederick Zimmermann:

Frederick Zimmermann was an American double bassist and teacher. He played in the New York Philharmonic from 1930-1966 serving as assistant-principal and principal and taught at the Juilliard School, Mannes College of Music, Columbia University, Manhattan School of Music, and New York University. He is considered by many to be the most influential American double bass teacher of the 20th century.


CBC 141: David Grossman Interview

David Grossman.png

This week’s episode of Contrabass Conversations features an interview with double bassist David Grossman, a member of the New York Philharmonic bass section and an active jazz bassist. Hosted by John Grillo, this interview covers David’s early musical experiences, his dual interest in jazz and classical music, current projects, his philosophy and approach as a teacher, and a variety of other topics.

About David:

Bassist David J. Grossman began playing with the New York Philharmonic as its youngest member in December 1999 before graduating from The Juilliard School in May 2000. Born and educated in New York City, Mr. Grossman has performed as double bassist and pianist in orchestral, chamber, and jazz venues worldwide. He is a member of the double bass faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School, and regularly gives master classes across the country. (view complete bio)

Tracks featured:

  • Thirds The Charm – from The Bass Of Both Worlds Jazz (iTunes link)
  • Janacek: Pohadka (Fairy Tale) Mvt. 3 – from The Bass Of Both Worlds Classical (iTunes link)

More information on David’s recordings is available on his website davidjgrossman.com.

Other John Grillo-hosted podcasts:


CBC 120: Ed Barker interview

Ed Barker.png

We’re featuring Boston Symphony Principal Bassist Ed Barker on this week’s Contrabass Conversations episode. Conducted by Contrabass Conversations co-host John Grillo, this episode features John chatting with Ed about his early years on the bass, his schooling and time spent in the Chicago Symphony prior to his appointment with the Boston Symphony, and in-depth look at articulation on the bass, and a discussion on practicing. We hope you enjoy this conversation with this modern master performer and teacher of the double bass!

About Ed Barker:

Edwin Barker is recognized as one of the most gifted bassists on the American concert scene. Acknowledged as an accomplished solo and ensemble player, Mr. Barker has concertized in North America, Europe, and the Far East.

Edwin Barker has performed and recorded with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, and with the contemporary music ensemble Collage, a Boston – based contemporary music ensemble, and is a frequent guest performer with the Boston Chamber Music Society. Mr. Barker gave the world premiere of James Yannatos’ Concerto for Contrabass and Chamber Orchestra and of Theodore Antoniou’s Concertino for Contrabass and Chamber Orchestra ; he was the featured soloist in the New England premiere of Gunther Schuller’s Concerto for Double Bass and Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the composer with The Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra.

Mr. Barker graduated with honors from the New England Conservatory in 1976, where he studied double bass with Henry Portnoi. That same year, while a member of the Chicago Symphony, he was appointed at age 22 to the position of principal double bass of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His other double bass teachers included Peter Mercurio, Richard Stephan, Angelo LaMariana, and David Perleman.

Mr. Barker was invited to inaugurate the 100th anniversary season of the Boston Symphony Orchestra with a solo performance of the Koussevitzky Bass Concerto; other solo engagements have included appearances at Ozawa Hall (Tanglewood), Carnegie Recital Hall’s “Sweet and Low” series, and at major universities and conferences throughout the world, as well as concerto performances with the Boston Classical Orchestra, the Athens State Orchestra (Greece) and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Boston and Europe. He was a featured premiere soloist with the Boston Symphony of John Harbison’s Concerto for Bass Viol and Orchestra at Tanglewood’s 2007 Festival of Contemporary Music.

Mr. Barker is an Associate Professor at the Boston University College of Fine Arts where he teaches double bass, orchestral techniques, and chamber music. His other major teaching affiliations include the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Center, where he is Chairman of Instrumental and Orchestral Studies.

Edwin Barker’s solo CD recordings include Three Sonatas for Double Bass, on Boston Records, James Yannatos’ Variations for Solo Contrabass, on Albany Records, and Concerti for Double Bass, on GM Recordings, which includes bass concerti by Gunther Schuller and Theodore Antoniou. Concerti for Contrabass also includes his highly praised performance of Tom Johnson’s Failing , which was recorded live at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater. Edwin Barker’s latest solo offering on CD is a recently released performance of James Yannatos’ Concerto for Contrabass with Collage.

More from John Grillo:


The State of the Orchestra – new podcast with John Grillo

State of the Orchestra 1.png

Double bassist and Contrabass Conversations co-host John Grillo recently recorded in the first of a new series of audio programs about the past, present, and future of the professional symphony orchestra. In this first episode, John interviews me about my book Road Warrior Without an Expense Account, which I hope you’ll find interesting. I also recorded a screencast of my Keynote presentation about this book, which I did in Sioux Falls, South Dakota during the summer of 2008. I wrote the blog posts that this book is based upon in early 2007. Enjoy!


CBC 112: Max Dimoff interview 2

Max Dimoff double bass.pngContrabass Conversations Co-host John Grillo from classicalmusicnews.tv and I are concluding our interview with Cleveland Orchestra Principal Bass Max Dimoff this week. Before winning his job with the Cleveland Orchestra, Max served as Principal Bass of the San Antonio Symphony and Section Bass for the Grant Park Symphony and Seattle Symphony.

In this second segment of our interview with Max, we cover the use of rhythms in practicing solo and orchestral music, why he finds warm-up exercises useful, standing versus sitting, and audition preparation advice.

Max’s Warm-Ups

Max Dimoff Warm-Up Packet (PDF)

In addition to serving as Principal Bass with the Cleveland Orchestra, Max is on faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music along with Jeff Bradetich, his former teacher from Northwestern University. Max and Jeff team teach the CIM bass studio in a very interesting arrangement which we discuss during our interview.

Max’s colleague Jeff Bradetich recently appeared on Contrabass Conversations as well. Here are links both to Jeff’s interview and to Jeff’s own technique packets, which may be interesting to delve into for listeners as well:

More interviews co-hosted by John Grillo:

Links: