Meet TSO Bass Players Casey Karr and Nicholas Burton

by Tucson Symphony
Meet TSO Bass Players Casey Karr and Nicholas Burton

At what age did you start playing music and what was your first instrument?

Casey: I started playing music at age 8 when I decided I wanted to learn guitar and be a rockstar. The dream changed slightly over the years after I found the bass!

Nick: My first instrument was the cello. I started playing when I was in first grade, taking private lessons under the Suzuki method.

What/who inspired you to pursue music professionally?

Casey: My mom and both grandmas are all musicians, so I grew up hearing music everywhere I went. That helped my childhood dream, and I never looked back.

Nick: My mother provided me with the inspiration to pursue music professionally. I have always taken inspiration from her life as a pianist, violinist, and music theory professor. It runs in the family!

What’s the best piece of musical advice you’ve ever received?

Casey: I think the best piece of musical advice I’ve ever received was to take care of my body. The repetitive motions of playing an instrument and physical demands of the bass can take a toll, but finding other types of movement that I love has kept me upright and mobile!

Nick: This is a tricky question as I have been blessed with an array of wonderful music teachers in my life. Although it is hard to remember one specific instance, the repeated reminders to RELAX and EXPRESS have always stayed with me from my collegiate bass instructor, Tyler Abbott. In addition, I will always be thankful to Mike Nord at Willamette University for showing me the indispensableness of listening across an ensemble during his free improvisation sessions. It is truly sublime what can be achieved musically without any score or chart. 

What do you love about the bass in general and your instrument in particular?

Casey: I love the deep and sonorous resonance of the bass! The first time I played my particular instrument was while testing hundreds of basses to find a good match. I could feel the floor vibrating from the sound and knew this bass was the one.

Nick: I love bass because of its flexibility across genres. I grew up playing rock music in high school and studied jazz in college. Playing the bass has allowed me to explore a wide variety of music on a single instrument. In general, I love learning new approaches to musicking and the bass has always seemed like the perfect canvas for musical expression in a multitude of different styles and conventions.

Which concert have you enjoyed the most this season? Which upcoming concert are you most looking forward to?

Casey: So far, my favorite concert this season was Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with Stefan Jackiw. His virtuosic ease is truly inspiring! I’m also really looking forward to playing Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony in March. His even numbered symphonies don’t receive as much attention these days, but they are truly a joy to play and hear.

Nick: I really enjoyed playing Dvorak’s eighth symphony. His compositions always lay so naturally on the bass. I love his mix of lyrical expression and rhythmic dance. Playing Dvorak always leaves a smile on my face! Looking ahead, I am most excited about Holst’s Planets as I’ve never had the opportunity to perform this piece before and I love the epic scale it represents.

What is your favorite thing about Tucson?

Casey: My favorite thing about Tucson is the natural beauty! I love being surrounded by incredible mountains, seeing a gorgeous sunset every evening, and spending time outdoors.

Nick: My favorite part of living in Tucson has got to be the weather. I lived in Oregon for the last eight years and I do not miss the overcast skies, constant rain, and cold. I’m looking forward to soaking up the sunshine and exploring more of what Tucson has to offer in the future.