Music Program

Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.

$8 general admission, $5 members/students/seniors

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Joshua DeScherer

Solo Contrabass

Josh DeScherer (contrabass)

Josh has been fascinated with sound from an early age: many of his earliest memories involve making a lot of noise, as well as seeing and hearing loud things such as cannons, foghorns, and jackhammers. To this day, he continues to find music in unexpected places, enjoying both the sounds of a cityscape (droning engines, rhythmic hammering) and that of a mountain path (distant humming bee tree, rhythmic walking).

Josh has played the contrabass for two decades now, the product of an excellent public school music program in Tenafly, NJ, and supplemented by studies in the preparatory division at the Manhattan School of Music. He has studied bass with Linda McKnight, Lou Kosma, Lynn Hannings, and Pascale Delache-Feldman. Josh has performed with the Colby Symphony Orchestra (Waterville, ME), the Bangor Symphony Orchestra (Bangor, ME), the Tufts University Symphony Orchestra, the Civic Symphony Orchestra of Boston, and the Sage City Symphony Orchestra (Bennington, VT). An adept improviser, Josh has performed with new music groups in both the Boston, MA and Buffalo, NY areas.

While a student at Colby College (Waterville, ME), Josh began his work as a composer. After earning a BA in Music from Colby, he continued on to Tufts University (Medford, MA) earning a MA in Music Composition in 2001. During these years, Josh studied composition with Jonathan Hallstrom, Steve Nuss, Phil Carlsen, and John McDonald. After earning his MA, Josh taught Aural Skills and Fundamentals of Music at Bennington College. Many of his pieces from this time, such as For The Wild Forests (2003) draw their inspiration from Josh's love of the New England wilderness. As a composer, Josh is especially fond of writing for chamber ensembles, and with few exceptions, his pieces are for small ensembles. Among his works are numerous settings of poetry from the Beat Generation, particularly settings of the work of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Much of his work over the past several years has been for contrabass solo, or for small ensembles including contrabass. Among these works are Sonata for Contrabass and Piano (2001), Incantation - Canon - Purification (Cycle for Imbolc) (2003), and Contra (2004).

Josh is enrolled as a Ph.D. student at the University at Buffalo where he studies composition with Cort Lippe.

"The height of virtuosity was achieved after intermission, with Joshua DeScherer playing Failing (A Very Difficult Piece for Solo Doublebass), by Tom Johnson and the world premiere of his own Exercise on a Breeze, based on a "tune" by Alban Berg. The first consists of a spoken monologue, accompanied by progressively more difficult bass figures, on the meaning of "failure" in the title – if the piece is played correctly, does that mean that the performer has failed?

If one hadn't heard both performances, one would have said that they were impossible. DeScherer gets more exhilarating sounds out of a bass than most full orchestras." - Portland (ME) Press Herald

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October, 2009 - 2009