What happens when 1,500 bassists descend on Ithaca College?

That’s not the setup for a joke. It’s the start of a week-long convention that brings together musicians from thirty countries at Ithaca College.

Ithaca College is hosting the International Society of Bassists for its 50th anniversary convention, and hundreds of the very best bassists and bass makers in the world will participate in more than 150 performances, plus workshops and exhibits.

The convention’s keynote speaker, Gary Karr, is the world renowned bass virtuoso who founded the ISB in 1967. Since then, the organization has grown to include 3,000 members in more than 40 countries.

There’s a week-long Young Bassists program that will let younger attendees learn from some of the world’s best, as well as an Adult Learner forum where enthusiasts of any age can pick up pointers. And, every day from Tuesday through Saturday, there will be a Noontime Bass Jam, where all bassists of all abilities and interests, are welcome to participate in a skills lab with solo and ensemble playing.

Also this week, the ISB will be unveiling the Scott LaFaro Archives, which will be housed at Ithaca College. LaFaro was a student at Ithaca College before he launched an all-too-brief career as a jazz bassist. He died in a car accident in 1961. The archive will include LaFaro’s double bass, “lovingly restored following the accident,” as well as manuscripts, recordings, correspondence, and photos.

Over the course of the week, instrument makers will be joining forces to build a double bass from scratch, in the set design shop at Dillingham Hall, where theater sets are usually built. It will be raffled off at the end of the week.

Nicholas Walker, Ithaca College associate professor of music and the chair of this year’s ISB event, will be inducted as the society’s new president during the convention.

The ISB convention runs through June 10th. On-site registration is still available for rates ranging from $325 for the week for adults down to a $90 student day pass.

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