The veteran of the Grand Rapids Symphony was 74 years old

Steve Reiley with audience favorite bow

Steve Reiley with one of his bows. Photo: courtesy International Society of Bassists

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US double bassist and bow maker Steven Reiley died on 16 August at the age of 74. He was co-founder of Guarneri House, a Michigan violin workshop that became well known in the lutherie community, and which latterly was run by his son Aaron Reiley while Steven remained as president emeritus.

Born in 1949, Steven Reiley studied the double bass and cello at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He taught at Eastern Michigan University while making bows in his spare time. He founded the Guarneri Violin Shop, which later became Guarneri House, in Grand Rapids, MI, while working at the Christian Music Center.

 As a bassist, Reiley he was a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony in the 1970s and toured nationally with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1981, during which he sold his bows to Yo-Yo Ma and Mstislav Rostropovich among others. He wrote for Bass World magazine and served on the board of the International Society of Bassists.

‘The double bass community has lost a giant,’ said Joseph Conyers principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra. ‘What I will remember most about [Reiley] was his welcoming and kind spirit, particularly during my tenure in Grand Rapids. I knew from the moment I walked into that warm old mansion that was Guarneri House nearly 20 years ago that I had found a new bass home.’

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