April 27, 2017
Writer: Erin McMahon
Students at BYU-Idaho are given many opportunities to expand their learning and develop professional skills through internships, practicums and student employment. But for one senior double bass performance major, Nathan May, it was the opportunity to play on the bass of a world-renown conductor of the 1900's, Serge Koussevitsky, that helped him appreciate his education that much more.
"That bass is so fun to play on," May said. "It made me realize the incredible opportunities that I've been given as I've been here at school, that I may not have gotten at any other place."
As a member of the International Society of Double Bassists (ISB), Music Department faculty member Aaron Miller was offered the chance to host the Koussevitsky bass in his office for students to play on.
"I think all of the students in my studio felt that it was a unique experience to be a part of," Miller said. "It's an education for everybody to hear what a high quality instrument like this sounds like in person."
The real value that this opportunity had for Miller's students, lies behind the bass' age and history. A modern look at the world renown bass of Serge Koussevitsky.
Years after Koussevitsky's passing in 1951, his wife attended the debut recital of a talented young bassist named Gary Karr in New York's town hall where he performed her husband's famous double bass concerto Op 3.
During the performance, Madame Koussevitsky saw the ghost of her husband embrace Karr. Because of this experience, she felt strongly that Karr was to be the gift recipient of her husband's most prized double bass.
Since then, Gary Karr has been named perhaps the best known bassist in existence.
Today, Karr has donated the instrument to the ISB where it is passed on to its members at universities all over the world, where students like May, can experience the precious sound of Koussevitsky's famous double bass, the very instrument that Karr built his career upon, in an intimate and personal way.
Miller shared his appreciation for the unique opportunity this was for both him, and his students.
"For me, it reinforced the importance that we have as faculty, to stay in our professional organizations," Miller said. "These types of opportunities don't just come. You have to be actively involved in your field for those things to happen. It just reminds me to make sure that I'm still in contact with other professionals to make sure the education my students get here is of the highest quality."
May expressed his gratitude for the faculty he's worked with that made this opportunity possible for him.
"Brother Miller is a fantastic faculty mentor, and that goes for all the faculty I've worked with here," May said. "They are all so dedicated to giving their students opportunities to really learn outside of the classroom. It just made me appreciate our faculty a lot more and the dedication our administration has toward furthering education."