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Blake Hinson

Assistant Principal Bass


Assistant Principal Bass Blake Hinson joined the New York Philharmonic in September 2012. Previously he served as principal bass of the Grand Rapids Symphony for two seasons, played with the New World Symphony as a fellow, and performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra. A native of West Des Moines, Iowa, Hinson was accepted at age 16 to The Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Philadelphia Orchestra principal bass Harold Robinson and Edgar Meyer. He spent three summers at the Aspen Music Festival and School on fellowship, where he played in the Aspen Chamber Symphony and Aspen Festival Orchestra and won the 2006 low strings competition. Hinson won third prize in the 2009 International Society of Bassists Double Bass Competition and made his solo debut at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

“My first teacher told me to be a sponge. I ask my colleagues in the Orchestra questions every day.”

Interview with Blake Hinson

THE FACTS: Born in West Des Moines, Iowa. Bachelor of music from The Curtis Institute of Music. Prior to the Philharmonic: principal bass of the Grand Rapids Symphony, fellow with the New World Symphony, substitute with The Philadelphia Orchestra. At the Philharmonic: Joined September 2012.

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: I had a strong aversion to attending my older sisters’ violin recitals and needed a concert survival kit, complete with Game Boy and coloring books. I didn’t fall in love with music until later.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO PURSUE MUSIC? Growing up I played piano, violin, oboe, tuba, guitar, and bass guitar. I began bass at age 10, and at 13 I went to the Golden Gate Bass Camp, where the legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown was scheduled to perform. Two days before that date, he passed away — it was a huge loss for music. David Murray played Bottesini’s Reverie in his memory. I remember thinking: this is such a powerful venue for expression! The next day I started practicing as hard as I could. By age 16 I was hungry for an intense musical environment. I learned of Walnut Hill, an arts boarding school in Boston, and went through the process of applying without telling my parents. When I asked for permission to attend they said no, but, fortunately, they eventually agreed.

FIRST PIECE YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH: Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony, with all its memorable themes. I played it in the Iowa All-State Orchestra, which was also my first orchestral performance experience. Also Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Bach’s First Cello Suite — every cellist plays it differently, and I buy new recordings whenever they come out.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE PHILHARMONIC: Emanuel Ax’s encore on the EUROPE / SPRING 2013 tour: he’s one of my favorite musicians — truly inspiring.

WHO WERE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL INFLUENCES? Hal Robinson and Edgar Meyer, my teachers at Curtis. They inspired me to take my playing to the next level. I listened to Edgar’s CDs constantly from age 14 — he was my idol.

MOST INSPIRING COMPOSERS: The holy trinity of Bs: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? I love teaching: it makes me more introspective about my own playing. I also swim, am a coffee enthusiast, and love reading the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, Time,National Geographic, and Scientific American.

WHAT'S THE BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER BEEN GIVEN? My first teacher told me to be a sponge. I ask my colleagues in the Orchestra questions every day.

As of May 2015

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