ChamberFest Cleveland Preview: 15 Minutes With Bassist Nathan Farrington

By Jarrett Hoffman

“It’s pretty crazy, isn’t it?” bassist Nathan Farrington said of Prokofiev’s Quintet for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, and double bass. “There’s a lot of circus imagery in the piece, and in the second-movement solo, I’m totally the dancing bear.”

Franklin and Diana Cohen’s ChamberFest Cleveland, beginning its fourth season on June 17, welcomes back bassist Nathan Farrington, who debuted with the festival last summer. A 2006 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Farrington has appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Columbus Symphony, and the Minnesota Sinfonia. He appears regularly in the bass sections of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Columbus Symphony, and the East Coast Chamber Orchestra. An avid chamber musician, Farrington has completed three summers at the Marlboro Music Festival.

Though he lives in Los Angeles, Farrington calls Columbus his hometown, and he still has a lot of family in Ohio. “A large part of my mother’s family grew up on a farm in Medina,” he said, “so this is a wonderful opportunity for me to come back to Ohio, make music with some fabulous musicians, and involve my family. It’s also a retreat from the urban setting that I’m glued to for most of the year, so it’s a really great treat.”

At ChamberFest this summer, Farrington will perform works including Bottesini’s Gran Duo Concertante for violin, double bass, and string quartet (June 23), Prokofiev’s Quintet (June 26), and Edgar Meyer’s Amalgamations for solo bass (June 27). See our interview with the Cohens for concert details.

“I share a house with some family members in L.A.,” said Farrington, “and they’ve been listening to me practice the Prokofiev. They think it’s pretty strange music. It actually is a bit odd in terms of tonality and what he asks the bass player to do. But after you put the pieces together, it starts to make sense. It’s kind of like tangrams. You have these weird little shapes and hard edges that come together to make some pretty neat images.”

Farrington broke down his “dancing bear” image for the solo that opens the second movement. “It’s big, gruff, and low. Bass solos aren’t often so low, actually. It lays very well and isn’t too technically difficult, so it’s a moment to really shine.” Read the complete article on
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