Sam Suggs was recently named New Artist of the Month by Musical America, soon after receiving the Gary Karr Prize for 1st place at the 2015 International Society of Bassists Solo Competition, at which he performed many of his own compositions. An omnivorous musician, Sam was named Concert Artists Guild’s New Music/New Places Fellow at the 2016 CAG International Competition, making him first double bassist in thirty-six years to join the CAG roster: “What Suggs proceeded to play quite simply boggled the mind.” (Oregon Arts Watch).
As a performer-composer, Sam is committed to expanding the literature of the double bass canon with substantial new music as well as model compositions in various traditional styles, blending formalism and narrative, and drawing from the soup of 21st century eclecticism. “Audience members sat up on the edge of their seats, leaning forward…to try to discern just how he was making the myriad sounds… I virtually held my breath all the way to the end.” (Oregon Arts Watch).
A scholar of his instrument, with a particular passion about music from the 17th and 18th centuries, Sam premiered his own construction of Haydn’s lost Violone Concerto, which was the centerpiece of his ISB Competition-winning program. He has also served as principal bass of the inaugural Berwick Academy for Historical Performance at the Oregon Bach Festival, and has studied continuo and harpsichord with Robert Gjerdingen and Arthur Haas. He is the only bassist ever to win the Beijing International Music Festival Competition, and has performed concertos at the Kennedy Center and at Northwestern University.
As a collaborative bassist, he has performed at Mostly Music, Yellow Barn, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and was a Protégé Artist at Chamber Music Northwest (where he additionally performed Hindemith and Frank Zappa on accordion as well as a mixture of jazz and four-hand classical piano in intimate club concerts). Sam has received commissions for fresh arrangements and theatrical/film scores from Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center, Phoenix Chamber Music Society, Chamber Music Northwest, the Yale School of Drama and Yale School of Art.
A regular member of various ensembles, he performs with Foundry (which was named a Laureate Winner in the Open Division of the 2015 inaugural M-Prize Competition), the Goliath Duo (with violinist Suliman Tekalli), and also Quartet Le Loup (which won the Grand Prize at the 2015 Oneppo Chamber Series Competition). In addition, he has toured through Africa and Europe with his contemporary/jazz trio, Triplepoint, and he has recorded with the Tom Bergeron Quartet.
Currently Assistant Professor of Jazz and Classical Bass at James Madison University, Sam Suggs received a Presser Foundation Award and Dean’s Prize for the highest level of excellence at the Yale School of Music during his doctoral studies. A native of Buffalo, NY, he earned honors studying music theory and cognition at Northwestern University while working as the youngest principal bassist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, as well as a substitute for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW contemporary ensemble, and in various outreach programs including coaching the Carlos Chavez Youth Orchestra (including performing alongside Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax).
Sam Suggs: Bluebirds On Titan
Penderecki: Duo Concertante (excerpt)
Michael Laurello: Plead, for solo double bass (excerpt)