22Fresh off the AuditionCircuit Rex SuranyIn May 2015, I won the Principal Double Bass Position ofthe Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. I’ve been with the METnow for one season (’14-’15) as a section member, and amnow embarking on this new leadership position.
This article is sponsored in part by Robertson & Son’s Violin Shop23How did I get here, and where did it start…I was around 8 years old when I began to studymusic, but my musical journey did not start onbass. I was studying the piano for two yearsbefore I found the bass. Struggling to have enoughpractice time for both instruments cued my parentsto pull the plug on piano; they thought I was doinga little bit better at the bass anyway, and they sawit was more fun for me. I thought it was big andcool!My Teachers:In the beginning, I studied the bass with BobPeterson at The Millstone River Elementary School,where he taught and co-ran the orchestra program.I worked with Bob privately for 4 years from 1997to 2001, and then I went on to work with NicholasWalker from 2001 until 2005. I met Nicholas in2001 at George Vance’s summer bass workshopin Maryland. He was living in Yonkers, New York atthe time, and he had just come back from studyingwith Francois Rabbath in Paris. We approachedhim after his big recital at the workshop and askedif he could come down to teach a few of us youngbassists in the Princeton, New Jersey area. Heagreed to come down.It was my senior year of high school when Harold(Hal) Robinson came into the picture. Nicholaswas relocating to Ithaca to assume his newprofessorship. So, luckily for me, he was niceenough to help arrange some time for me to spendwith Hal. The lessons with him were absolutelyamazing! During the weeks he couldn’t see me, Istudied with Mary Javian, a former student of his,who was also nice enough to work with me.College:I studied at The Colburn School with David Mooreand Paul Ellison for a year. The two of them helpeddevelop maturity in my practice regimen. Theyare true masters of isolating variables of play,and finding natural gesture to fuel their chops,as well as many other things… They also helpedme decide which direction my career was going.I didn’t really know if I wanted to play bass guitar,be a soloist, be an orchestral player, or play jazzor folk music. David and Paul also helped meadvance my skills for transcribing music, especiallyEdgar Meyer’s compositions. I did a performanceforum at Colburn where I performed three of thosetranscriptions in 2007.That same year, I was accepted into the CurtisInstitute of Music, to study with Hal Robinsonand Edgar Meyer. What a trip! They are both soinfluential to my career. They taught me to bea good human being in addition to being a finemusician and a hard worker. They are amazingrole models, both musically and in personal life.In fact, in many ways I consider them like secondfathers to me. By the way, I’m honored to beHal’s assistant at Julliard, it’s going to be amazingteaching along side of him!Harold “Mr. Generosity” RobinsonHere’s a great story I always tell about Hal, itis when I had to take a bass from the Curtiscollection to get repaired. This “Storioni” is anice ~200 year old Italian instrument that wasabsolutely phenomenal to be exposed to and playon, but it had to go in for some repair work: it hada crack, a couple seams were open, there weresome rattles… I was on the audition circuit alreadyso the bass needed to be in tip top shape ASAP.I had no car and no way of safely transporting thebass out of Philly. So Hal just loaned me his owncar! He told me that it was parked underneath theKimmel Center, “Here are the keys”, just take it,and don’t worry about anything. This showed thedepth of Hal’s character: always trying to help, andalways cultivating community growth.Musically speaking, the man taught me, amongmany other things, how to be emotional with musicand to bring one’s life experience to the table.He’ll always orbit around this idea of theatricalmusicianship. Frankly, he’s one of a kind in thisregard. Just listen to his Kol Nidrei!Working with Edgar Meyer (in addition)Working with Edgar was absolutely flooring.Really, how many people get this opportunity!?I learned so much about structure, theory,counterpoint, analysis, and how to have all ofthat fuel this amazing “new age” bass techniquethat’s sweeping the nation (check out Hal’s newlyreleased edition of the 1st Bach cello suite inspired