2019 ISB Double Bass Competition Winners

The International Society of Bassists' biennial double bass competition was held June 3-4, 2019 at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana. Sandor Ostlund, professor of double bass at Baylor University, served as chair of this year's competition. The five divisions were Solo, Jazz and Orchestra, with competitors from age 19 to 30, and two divisions for younger bassists, Age 15 to 18 and Age 14 and Under. The competitions were open to the public, and the solo division finals were live streamed for the first time.

The International Society of Bassists thanks the administration of IU's Jacobs School of Music and professors Kurt Muroki and Jeff Turner for hosting the 2019 ISB Double Bass Competition and Convention.

Thanks to the 2019 ISB Double Bass Competition piano faculty, who rehearsed with and played for competitors unable to bring their own pianists with them: Anne Epperson, Coordinator, Allison Gagnon, Margaret McDonald, Giyong Ahn, Justin Bartlett and Tatiana Lokhina.

Thanks also to the technology, audio engineering, IT services and mulitimedia production departments at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music for making the ISB's first-ever live stream of competition events possible: Tony Tadey, Philip Ponella, Konrad Strauss, Fallon Stillman, Neha Martin and Cyrus Resur.

Solo Division

JUDGES: Jeremy Kurtz-Harris, Division Chair, Jeffrey Beecher, Rachel Calin, Andrés Martin, Chi-chi Nwanoku and Gunars Upatnieks.

The Gary Karr Prize of $2,500, given by Peter & Chris Gallagher, was won by Nina Bernat. The prize also includes an expenses-paid recital at the 2021 ISB convention and a bow made by Vladimir Radosavljevic, donated by Guarneri House.

Nina Bernat started playing bass when she was seven under the instruction of her father, bassist Mark Bernat. She is the winner of the 2014 Fort Dodge Young Artist Competition, finalist in the 2015 NSO Summer Music Institute Concerto Competition, and third prize winner in the 2014 Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Young Artists Concerto Competition. She is an undergraduate at The Juilliard School, where she studies with Tim Cobb. She has participated in the National Youth Orchestra of the United States, National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, Yellowbarn Young Artists Program, and Bowdoin International Music Festival. Nina is the recipient of a 2019 Keston MAX Instrumental Fellowship to spend ten days experiencing a week in the life of a London Symphony Orchestra musician.

2019 Solo Division Winners

2019 solo competition winners and judges (L to R) Sandor Ostlund, Competition Chair, Nina Bernat, Jesse Fischer, Jacob Warren, and Jeremy Kurtz-Harris, Division Chair. Photo by Yawen Wu

The Scott Haigh Prize of $1,000, given by Peter Gallagher and Unified Retirement Planning Group, was won by Jesse Fischer, an undergraduate at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he is a member of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. Jesse also won the $500 prize for Best Performance of the Required Piece, "Apple Tree," composed for the 2019 competition by Samuel Suggs with support from Liben Music, and sponsored by Ottava Imports.

Third prize of $750 was won by Jacob Warren of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He earned a bachelor's degree in performance from the University of Michigan School of Music, where he is currently pursuing graduate degrees in improvisation and chamber music.

Jazz Division

JUDGES: Jeff Campbell, Division Chair, Pablo Aslan, Miles Brown, Jim Ferguson, Mark Urness and Martin Wind.

The Scott LaFaro Prize of $2,500, given by the family of Scott LaFaro, was won by Ethan Philion. The prize also includes an expenses-paid concert at the 2019 ISB convention, and an amplifier and speaker donated by Acoustic Image, the official bass amplifier of the 2019 ISB convention.

Ethan Philion is a Chicago-based bassist, composer and bandleader. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied with Peter Dominguez, Gerald Cannon, Scott Dixon and Jay Ashby, Ethan was a finalist in the ISB's jazz competitions in 2015 and 2017. He was selected to take part in Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Residency at the Kennedy Center in 2015, and was a recipient of a Downbeat Outstanding Student Soloist Award. His septet also won an Outstanding Small Ensemble Award. Ethan is graduating with a master's in music from DePaul University this month, where he studied with Dana Hall, Dennis Carroll, Mike Allemana, Chad McCullough and Scott Burns.

2019 Jazz Division Winners

2019 ISB jazz competition winners and judges (L to R) Sandor Ostlund, Competition Chair, Emiliano Lasansky, William Ledbetter, Ethan Philion and Jeff Campbell, Division Chair. Photo by Yawen Wu

Second prize of $1,000, given by Mike Hennessey and the family of Zachary Suechting in his memory, was won by William Ledbetter, a student at the University of North Carolina (Greenville) Miles Davis Jazz Studies Program.

Third prize of $750, also given by Mike Hennessey and the family of Zachary Suechting in his memory, was won by Emiliano Lasansky, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music now based in New York City.

Orchestra Division

JUDGES: Maximilian Dimoff, Division Chair, Colin Corner, Scott Haigh, Owen Lee, Ju-Fang Liu and Jeff Turner.

First prize was won by Riley Zimmermann. Riley will receive an expenses-paid week with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Owen Lee, principal bass.

Riley Zimmermann is a double bassist and educator based in Pittsburgh, PA. He holds a B.S. in Music Education from Duquesne University and an M.M. in Double Bass Performance from Carnegie Mellon University. Riley's primary teachers have been Micah Howard and Peter Guild (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra), Jeffrey Mangone (Pittsburgh Opera), and Duane Botterbusch (Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra). He has performed with the Wheeling, Johnstown, and Westmorland Symphony Orchestras. In addition, Riley has played with various touring bands such as The Town Pants, the Jakob's Ferry Stragglers, and the Shelf Life String Band.

2019 Orchestra Division Winners

2019 ISB orchestra competition winners and judges (L to R) Sandor Ostlund, Competition Chair, Sean O'Hara, John Mietus, Riley ZImmermann, and Maximilian Dimoff, Division Chair. Photo by Yawen Wu

Second prize of $1,000, given by Orin O'Brien of the New York Philharmonic, was won by Sean O'Hara, principal double bass with the Young Musicians Foundation and studying at California State University in Fullerton.

Third prize of $750 was won by John Mietus, a prizewinner in two previous ISB competitions, currently pursuing a bachelor of music performance degree at the University of Southern California.

Honorable mentions went to Chantel Leung and Joseph Gaskins.

Age 15-18 Division

JUDGES: Paul Sharpe, Division Chair, Philip Alejo George Amorim, Scott Dixon, Tracy Rowell, and Sam Suggs.

The Joel Quarrington Prize of $1,250, given by Joel Quarrington, was won by Zhang Yue of Shanghai, China. The prize also includes a carbon fiber bow donated by Eastman.

Second prize of $500, given by Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Mapp, was won by Andrew Gantzer of Centreville, Virginia.

Third prize of $250, given by David Murray, was won by Ya-Hsuan Chen of Taiwan, repeating her third prize win from the 2017 competition.

Honorable mention went to Evan Tsai of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

2019 Age 15-18 Division Winners

2019 Age 15-18 competition winners and judges (L to R) Sandor Ostlund, Competition Chair, Andrew Gantzer, Ya-Hsuan Chen, Evan Tsai, Zhang Yue, and Paul Sharpe, Division Chair. Photo by Yawen Wu

Age 14 and Under Division

JUDGES: Kate Jones, Division Chair, Michael Bylina, Caroline Emery, Lauren Pierce, Jackie Pickett and Sonia Ray.

First prize of $500, given by John Kennedy, was won by Maggie Carter of Portland, Oregon. The prize also includes a bass bag donated by the Mooradian Cover Company.

Second prize of $250, given by Madeleine Crouch, was won by Jamie Park of Beachwood, Ohio, repeating her second prize win from the 2017 competition.

Third prize of $100, given by John & Penny Schimek, was won by Jacob Fisher of Highland Park, Illinois.

Levi Andreassen of Springfield, Missouri, received an honorable mention and bow case donated by Mitch Moehring for his performance of the required piece by Lloyd Goldstein.

2019 Age 14 and Under Division Winners

2019 Age 14 and Under competition winners and judges (L to R) Sandor Ostlund, Competition Chair, Jamie Park, Levi Andreassen, Jacob Fisher, Maggie Carter, and Kate Jones, Division Chair. Photo by Yawen Wu