A double bass and its double

Xavier Foley

Rockport Music presented a Xavier Foley and his double bass at the Shalin Liu Performance Center on Sunday afternoon in a memorable encounter. Marrying the 2016 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Marietta, Georgia, and heavy double bass in a mostly solo gig would take a stretch of the imagination, that is, until you’re there in the middle. of this eye-catching pair. The inquisitive ear has found many reasons to listen.

From straightforward Vivaldi to complicated Bach and technically challenging Bootsini to touching Foley creations, a truly rare encounter has surprisingly drawn a crowd and a reaction. The boy Marietta and the musician Curtis also imparted meaningful values ​​at a time when our divided country is earnestly striving to be inclusive.

Foley performed six of his own compositions, including several lyrics beyond expectations of what can be accomplished on such a bulky instrument. Its closest, Fantasia from Bootsini on The Sonnambule, meant fireworks, entertaining as well as amazing with the remarkably agile double bass player covering the entire fingerboard of his instrument. Suite No. 5 in C minor for solo cello by JS Bach, transposed for double bass, disconcerted by Foley’s extravagant juxtapositions.

The original view of the double bass as doubling another instrument continues to evolve, for example Foley. Unlike jazz bass players who usually drop the “double” part of the instrument’s nickname, Foley preserves this classic relationship of his own, even in his own work, Etude No. 11: The singer. Hinting at us, he had this to say: “That’s exactly what an etude is, ‘R&B in the classical style for double bass.’ Its soulful melody, which you might find yourself whistling later, embedded in an improvised type arrangement with luxurious outlines could very well have been the hit of the day.

The curious ear discovered the bundles of Xavier Foley. His take on Bach stretched the imagination, but to breaking point. Perhaps not so strange, Pierre Boulez’s Third Piano Sonata came to mind where the performer chooses freely between this or that following fragment, sounds and silences bordering on equality. Unquestionably, the drama surfaced with some of the many silent spaces. Following the linear aspect of Bach’s writing became elusive with Foley’s imaginative playing. An example being his echo of phrases, some being so soft that they appear from another place (as in the Boulez whose range of amplitude worked the extremes).

Shalin Liu Performance Center’s acoustics and Foley’s double bass were a perfect match. Sighing strings wept in another Foley original, “Lost Child.” Stretched lower strings countering jig-ing upper strings made for real drama in the encore, another original, his Irish fantasy on the ‘Lament of the Clergy’. His latin paradise and his Rockport Commission Changes reported a similar feeling: “I used to live in North Bergen, New Jersey, which is a Latin American neighborhood. All I heard was Latin American music. So, latin paradise shows my classic background and training mixed with my experience in North Bergen.” Vivaldi’s Cello Sonata No. 1 in B-flat major, transposed for double bass and piano seemed like a strange entry. The sparse piano, its high notes sounding like a toy piano, distracted.

As an entrepreneur, Xavier Foley runs a website where various offerings include his own original compositions, handmade French and German bows, shirts designed with treble and bass clefs, and even a calendar to get started. enroll in bass lessons.

Xavier Foley won the 2018 Avery Fisher Career Fellowship, the 2016 Young Concert Artists Competition and the 2014 Sphinx Competition. He has performed as a soloist with the Atlanta, Philadelphia and Nashville Orchestras.

David Patterson, music teacher and former chair of the performing arts department at UMass Boston, received a Fulbright Scholar Award and the Chancellor’s Distinction in Education. He studied with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen in Paris and holds a doctorate from Harvard University. He is the author of 20 small piano pieces from around the world (G. Schirmer). www.notescape.net

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