Andy Butler is showing us another side of the double bass in a new California Symphony exclusive series, Double Bass Dimensions. Read below to learn more about Andy’s bass beginnings, the series, and a special recipe.
Tell us a little about yourself and your history with the California Symphony.
I currently live in Oakland, CA. I started substituting in the orchestra in 1992, eventually joined the section, and then won the Principal bass job in 2007. I play in many of the Bay Area regional orchestras, including Opera San Jose, Oakland Symphony, Marin Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, and Fresno Philharmonic. I also perform regularly as a substitute with Symphony Silicon Valley, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Modesto Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony.
We hear that you tried a few different instruments as a child. What was it about the double bass that ultimately led you to decide on that instrument?
I grew up playing the recorder, piano, trumpet, and then electric bass. I switched over to string bass in high school and became enamored/obsessed with classical music. Playing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony with the San Francisco Youth Orchestra sealed the deal and sent me on my course of pursuing a career as a classical bassist.
Why did you decide to create the Double Bass Dimensions series?
This series was born out of a massive creative surge as a result of the pandemic and lock down. I wanted to create something that was fun, interesting, involved great melodies, and gave people some insights into the bass world and what the instrument sounds like played in a more soloistic capacity. As the series evolved, I discovered amazing threads between the works, which I will tell you about in the series!
Some of the pieces highlighted in Double Bass Dimensions are more commonly played on cello or violin. What gives? 🙂
The double bass is rarely heard in a solo capacity, although legendary bassists like Gary Karr and Edgar Meyer have been championing the instruments’ abilities for decades. But like an unusual baritone, with a rich and pleasing tone, the double bass can be a melodic instrument!
We hear you and your wife are wicked cooks. What’s a favorite dish that you like to make together?
My wife is from Peru, and we love to cook lots of her indigenous dishes. Here is a recipe for Chupe de Habas (Fava Bean Chowder).
Double Bass Dimensions will premiere for California Symphony 20/21 subscribers and donors on select Thursdays in March and April, and will be available to the public to watch on Facebook and YouTube the day after premiering. Learn more about how to watch here.