Robert Hoffman, string bass

Years playing with the PSO: 10 +/-
Lives in: Arlington, MA

How old were you when you started playing string bass? Why viola?

I started playing the string bass at age 12. My Junior High had an orchestra, a string orchestra, a concert band, and a dance band. The Double Bass was the only instrument in all of them and I just wanted to play as much as possible. Besides, it’s a great instrument to play.

What do you like about playing with a symphony orchestra?

The abundance of music with lots of good parts for the bass, and the sonority of an orchestra.

What is your favorite piece of music to play on string bass?

Rossini’s Duet for Cello and Bass

Tell us about your musical education.

I began my private studies as a teen with Homer Mensch of the New York Philharmonic and NBC Symphony (under Toscanini).  I attended the H.S. of Music & Art in NYC where I was principal bass of the Senior Orchestra.  After moving to the Boston area for college I continued with Leslie Martin of the BSO. I also took a few lessons with jazz bassist Eddie Gomez. While at college in Cambridge, I performed as an extra with the Brandeis Symphony Orchestra under Robert Koff, a founding member of the Julliard Quartet.

How do you spend your time outside of the PSO?

I teach many (at the moment online) music appreciation classes for adults, covering multiple diverse genres, including classical, jazz, Brazilian, American song book, folk and roots, other international, comparative performances, occasionally music theory for beginners, and a class I call “Creative Listening.”  I love playing chamber music.  In the winter I go cross-country skiing and when there is no snow I do a lot of walking.

Any accolades you want to share?
I won the Henry Ext award for bass in high school. I have played many times under Alexander (Sascha) Schneider of the Budapest Quartet, including a tour of the northeast U.S., and serving as Principal bass for the first two years of the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. At Brandeis I had the honor to perform Schubert’s Trout Quintet with Robert Koff on violin, violist Eugene Lehner (of the Kolisch Quartet), cellist Madeleine Foley (a founder of Marlboro Music Festival), and pianist Luise Vosgerchian (professor at Harvard). I was also principal bass for the (Boris) Goldovsky Opera Company on 15 tours of the U.S.
Do you play with any other groups?

I also play with SymphonyNH, New England Philharmonic, Concord (MA) Orchestra, Assabet Valley Mastersingers Orchestra, and several other irregularly scheduled concerts.