Joseph Conyers

Spotlight: Joseph Conyers

Posted by:  The Philadelphia Orchestra on July 29, 2020

Acting Associate Principal Bass Joseph Conyers shares his musical inspirations and what he’s listening to during his time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stream Joe’s Spotify playlist HERE.

From Joe: I hope you enjoy this playlist as much as I do!

Spotlight: Joseph Conyers

Puccini: La bohème, Act IV: “O Mimì, tu più non torni”—This track represents my love of opera. I love Puccini. I love Pavarotti. It’s very difficult to get better than this! That said, I love everything from Britten's Peter Grimes to Mozart's anything to Massenet's Cendrillon. I played four summers at the Santa Fe Opera and fell in love with opera there.

Rachmaninoff: Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19, first movement—This is easily one of the most influential classical recordings of my life. I’ve been searching for Yo-Yo's sound in my head ever since I was a kid, and I discovered this disc when I was in middle school. I was so inspired by his playing and by the music that I played the third movement of this sonata at my audition for the Curtis Institute of Music. The masterful musicianship of Ma and Emanuel Ax together is virtually unmatched. This music brings me great joy.

Villa-Lobos: Second Bachianas brasileiras No. 9, second movement—I picked this simply because I’d love to perform more of Villa-Lobos’s works. I love listening to music from all parts of the world and how it and customs of other cultures influence their contributions to classical music. It's actually pretty remarkable. I also love the fact that this movement is so seamlessly written in 11/8.

J.S. Bach/arr. Stokowski: Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582—This is, of course, my beloved Philadelphia Orchestra. It was one of my first recordings with the group (and Yannick!), and I think it was one of the best tracks that captures the essence of that famous Philadelphia Orchestra SOUND! So good ...

J.S. Bach: Violin Sonata No. 3 in C major, BWV 1005, second movement—Hilary Hahn and I just missed each other at Curtis, but I have been a fan of her playing ever since she recorded this album when she was nearly 16 years old. This C-major fugue is untouchable. I'm just in awe every time I hear it.

Butterworth: A Shropshire Lad, Rhapsody for Orchestra—I want the world to know this piece. It's GORGEOUS, but it's never performed, likely because George Butterworth isn't famous enough (that's the way it goes sometimes in this business). My guess: If this piece was programmed more often, that would likely change!

Fauré: “Les Roses d'Ispahan,” Op. 39, No. 4—The voice of Kathleen Battle got me through college and through many orchestra auditions. For someone to be able to sing so effortlessly, so light, so lyrically, with such poise and panache ... I always did what I could to sing like she did on my double bass. She was such an inspiration to me during my developmental years.

Dutilleux: Métaboles, fifth movement—This is something (for some), off the beaten path, but boy do I love this path! I love his orchestration. I love his compositional style. I find his music, and others like it, quite expressive. This piece represents those for the sake of this playlist!

Reich: Sextet—I'm a big fan of Steve Reich. This Sextet might be one of my favorite works of his. I love the energy. I love the groove. Reich's music is all about using the groove (and his fantastic counterpoint) to tell the musical story. It truly is mesmerizing. I'm a fan of many of the minimalist composers.

Hailstork: Symphony No. 3­, first movement—This Symphony is new to me. I spend a lot of time on Spotify looking for pieces by lesser known composers that inspire me. This was one of those pieces, and I hope to one day play his music with The Philadelphia Orchestra. What makes this recording even more interesting is that it's done by one of my former orchestras, the Grand Rapids Symphony, where I was principal bass for almost four seasons.

Mason: “Joy to the World,” as performed in the film The Preacher’s Wife—­I appreciate good singing—of any genre. I'm a Whitney Houston fan. She had such a powerful, lyrical, and expressive instrument. I also grew up with gospel music at home, so this track covers both my love of Whitney and gospel music!

Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major, Op. 78—When I was in high school, I wasn't so into Brahms. Now, Brahms is my favorite composer. Many thanks to Pamela Frank and Peter Serkin for this absolutely lovely interpretation (hands down my favorite) of his first violin sonata—easily a desert island piece. It’s such perfection in so many ways. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!

Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op. 15, seventh movement—I'm such a sucker for a good tune—the simpler the better. I love this beautiful work performed by the legendary pianist Martha Argerich. Did I ever mention I started my musical journey on piano? For a long time, I actually thought I'd study piano in college ... but then the bass came along ...

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