Gary Karr | Gary Karr & Harmon Lewis Duo

Gary Karr

Acclaimed as "the world's leading solo bassist" (Time Magazine), is, in fact, the first solo doublebassist in history to make that pursuit a full-time career. It is a career that adds new lustre to his already lustrous 1611 Amati doublebass which was given to him by the widow of Serge Koussevitzky.

Since his debut with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in 1962, Karr has performed as soloist on six continents with orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Montreal Symphony, Simon Bolivar Orchestra (Caracas, Venezuela), Jerusalem Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, and with all the major orchestras of Australia.

On Italian cable, three Karr doublebass recitals reached 20 million classical music lovers. The numerous CDs that Gary Karr has recorded and released in Japan are "top of the recording charts" favorites in the Far East. The BBC has featured two video films of Karr, one an illumination of his life and music (Amazing Bass) and one a series for children. On his third recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, Karr performed the Concerto for Bass by John Downey. CBS Sunday Morning celebrated Gary Karr's career and the University of Wisconsin has released a video demonstrating his instructional approach to the doublebass (BASSically Karr) in addition to a special video concert for children (Karrtunes).

One of Karr's proudest achievements is the Bronze Medal he received from the Rosa Ponselle Foundation which recognizes him as an outstanding lyrical musician. Gary is the proud holder of the 1997 Artist/Teacher of the Year Award from the American String Teacher's Association (ASTA). He also holds the Distinguished Achievement Award (1995) from the International Society of Bassists (ISB). Gary Karr participated in the Bi-Annual Rainforest Concert in Carnegie Hall with fellow-bassist Sting, Stevie Wonder and others in 1997. In 1999 a new book by Claude Kenneson, entitled Musical Prodigies -- Perilous Journeys, Remarkable Lives was released by Amadeus Press, which includes a passage describing Karr's early love affair with the doublebass.

In June 2001, Gary Karr played his farewell public concert as part of the International Society of Bassists 2001 Convention in Indianapolis. A large audience that included eight hundred bassists from twenty-seven different countries attended this event. At the close of this recital with his pianist, Harmon Lewis, Karr was given the ISB's Distinguished Teacher Award. He was also presented with a very special gift from more than two hundred of his colleagues and fans…a newly developed rose named in his honor to commemorate his forty years on the international concert stage.

Harmon Lewis

Born in Mississippi, Harmon Lewis graduated cum laude with a B.A. degree in Organ from Millsaps College in Jackson. He earned a Master of Music degree in 1964 at Indiana University in Bloomington where he studied organ with Oswald Ragatz and harpsichord with Marie Zorn. That same year he was the first prize winner in the Fort Wayne National Organ Playing Competition. Lewis taught organ, piano, music theory and humanities at Centre College of Kentucky in Danville from 1964 to1968.

In 1968 Mr. Lewis returned to Indiana University for further graduate studies. Academic exploration piqued his interest in Baroque performance practices, especially figured bass improvisation, and he began serious study of the harpsichord with Marie Zorn. His studies at Indiana University earned Harmon Lewis a Doctor of Music Degree in Organ completed in 1979. Since graduate school, Mr. Lewis has become more involved as a pianist, but maintains his interest and skills in harpsichord and organ as well. In Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1972-1978, Mr. Lewis was Artist-in-Residence at Dalhousie University, and performed regularly on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Organists in Recital program, in addition to appearing in recitals in Canada and the United States with Gary Karr.

In 1971, Harmon Lewis joined with notable doublebassist, Gary Karr, to form the Karr-Lewis Duo which built a schedule of appearances that took the team all over North America as well as Great Britain, continental Europe, Russia, Israel, Australia and the Orient, where their many recordings are runaway favorites. The Karr-Lewis Duo have appeared regularly at renowned festivals around the world such as the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, Switzerland, the Edinburgh Festival, the Bergen Festival in Norway and the Victoria International Festival in British Columbia.

The Karr-Lewis Duo played their final public concert in June 2001. Harmon Lewis now resides in Victoria, British Columbia and, together with Gary Karr, has embarked on a major recording project which will include most the works they have transcribed and performed in concert over the past 30 years.

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