A founding member of Bang on a Can All-Stars, the bassist, improvisor and educator was 67


Robert Black | bangonacan.org

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US bassist Robert Black died on 22 June 2023 from cancer. He was 67 years old.

Born in Denver, CO, Black studied double bass with Gary Karr. He enjoyed an international career as a double bassist and electric bassist, touring and collaborating with other musicians, composers and artists, namely as a founding member of Bang on a Can All-Stars, a flexible, amplified ensemble exploring contemporary works across different genres.

His interdisciplinary musical projects included First Fridays with Robert Black – a monthly series of streamed solo bass recitals, a ten-channel audio/video double bass installation reflecting on the Anthropocene with sound artists Brian House and Sue Huang, filmed at the Freshkills landfill in NYC, as well as an outdoor environmental work for 24 basses with composer Eve Beglarian.

He also performed with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, the Ciompi and Miami Quartets and the orchestras of the Monadock and Moab Festivals.

A champion of new music, Black chaired the International Society of Bassists’ composition competition for many years, and commissioned works for bass from Philip Glass, John Luther Adams, Carman Moore, Joan Tower, Phil Niblock, Nick Dunston, Žibuolkė Martinaitytė, Krists Auznieks, Jakhongir Shukurov, and Daniel Sabzghabaei. His solo recordings include Philip Glass: Bass Partita and Poetry, (Orange Mountain Music), Possessed, Modern American Bass, The Bass Music of Christian Wolff, Giacinto Scelsi and State of the Bass.

Black founded and directed the Robert Black Foundation Trust, a non-profit organisation which aims to support contemporary musical arts activities in different manifestations.

Black served as professor of double bass and instrumental music for many years at the Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford, as well as the Manhattan School of Music, the New Music on the Point Festival and the Festival Eleazar de Carvalho in Brazil.

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