Conference Synopsis

The Richard Davis Foundation’s bass conference is held every year, in Madison, WI on the UW Madison college campus on the Friday and Saturday before Easter. Every year, the exact structure of classes and content of classes changes based on the interests, skills, and previous knowledge of the participants; the expertise areas of the clinicians; and other factors like number of total students or space available etc., but the weekend is always generally has the same overall structure, and undoubtably the same high level of high energy music making. The two day conference can broadly be outlined by a series of events to train young bassists and their families on what it is to be a bass player while networking with experienced professionals. Activities throughout the two days include:

  • Warm ups
  • Recitals
  • Master Classes (or group lesson/private lesson)
  • Q&A sessions with the ‘experts’
  • Special topic
  • Sectionals
  • Bass Orchestra Rehearsal
  • Bass Orchestra and excerpt
  • Small ensemble rehearsal (quartet, trio, quintet etc.)
  • Meal time as a group (networking and informal conversation)
  • Concerts (Student and Faculty)

One important aspect of the bass conference is it’s focus on families. The bass conference is not just for youths who play the bass, it is also a very important weekend for families too. Events are designed to be enjoyable and enlightening to teach these young bassists biggest fans. Siblings and parents are involved in the weekend through Q&A sessions, workshops, and performance events of their own.

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The third annual conference was held in April 1996 near Madison, Wisconsin and was attended by 85 students from the Midwest and beyond plus their parents. The students range in age from 3 to 18 years of age. Clinicians and bass masters from the United States and Europe were on hand to provide training and encouragement to the students. The first conferences were funded largely by Mr. Davis himself, as well as through contributions from various attendees and other fund raising efforts.

The conference has been located at in Mr. Davis’s house, the Catholic Community Center of Madison, The Edgewood College, at the University of Wisconsin School of Music and is currently at the Pyle Center (part of UW Extension). The conference has welcomed as many as 87 young bassists and their families per year.

Past Board of Directors

Founder/President: Richard Davis
Executive Director: Catherine Harris
Conference Organizer: Peter Dominguez
Event Coordinator: Don Goldberg
Young Bassists Organizer: John Kennedy
Fund Raising: Deborah L. Maxwell
Business Adv./Treasurer: Stephen W. Maxwell
Sibling Ensemble: Bette Premo
Jazz Consultant – Posthumous: Milton Hinton
Accompaniment Tapes: Douglas Mapp
Composer/Pulitzer Prize: Gunther Schuller
Pyle Center Liaison: Bill Mann
Bass Consultant – Posthumous: David Walter
Accompanists: Beth Wilson/Vincent Fuh
Wisc. Public Schools: Mariel Wozniak
Artist: Melissa Zerofsky
Music Contributions: Jane Zimmerman