For over thirty years, Joel Quarrington has served as the Principal Double Bassist of many ensembles including the Canadian Opera Company, The Toronto Symphony and Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra and most recently, the famous London Symphony Orchestra.
Born in Toronto, Joel Quarrington began his formal studies of the double bass when he was thirteen. Upon graduation from the University of Toronto, he was awarded the “Eaton Scholarship” as the school’s most outstanding graduate. Joel is a winner of the Geneva International Competition and the CBC Talent Competition, and has made solo appearances across Canada, the United States, Europe and China.
Joel teaches in the summers at the Orford Arts Centre in Quebec’s beautiful Eastern Townships where his master classes have attracted players from around the world. He also teaches at the University of Ottawa and at the Royal Academy of Music in London where he is a “Visiting Artist”.
He has performed with many of the world’s leading string quartets including the Orford, Vermeer, Cleveland, Colorado, St. Lawrence, Allegri, Artis, Leipzig and Tokyo Quartets as well as the Pinchas Zukerman Chamber Players. Their Sony recording of Schubert’s Trout Quintet with Yefim Bronfman became an instant classic. He is particularly honoured to have been a part of a 1982 recording session with the legendary Glenn Gould for the soundtrack of Timothy Findley’s The Wars. Written for solo cello and bass and based on Brahms’ Intermezzi, this turned out to be the last music composed by Gould before his untimely death.
In April of 2005 he had the honour of playing the world premier John Harbison’s Concerto for Bass with the Toronto Symphony and conductor Hugh Wolf.
Joel has made several solo recordings that have made him famous at least in the bass world. His early Bottesini recordings on the NAXOS label are considered by many to be definitive. In April 2010, his recording, “Garden Scene”, won the 2010 Juno Award for Best Classical Recording. It was released by the Analekta label and features music of Korngold, Gliere, M.Weinberg, J.C. Bach and Bottesini. June 2013 marked the release of his most recent recording “Brothers in Brahms”, which features music of Robert Fuchs, Robert Schumann and the 1st Violin Sonata in G op.78 by Johannes Brahms. He was very happy to collaborate with the remarkable young Canadian pianist, David Jalbert for this project and in February 2015 this recording won the prestigious “Prix Opus” as the Outstanding Romantic Classical Recording of the year in Quebec.
In 2011, he received a Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Solo Performance from the International Society of Bassists and has been a featured performer at their biennial convention on three occasions.
He performs on an Italian bass made in 1630 by the Italian master, Santo Paolo Maggini and is an enthusiastic advocate of the historical practice of tuning the bass in fifths (CGDA, an octave lower than the cello) rather than the customary fourths. He believes fifths tuning leads to clearer and more accurate performance in all ranges of the bass, as well as greater tonal richness.
Joel is married to cellist Carole Sirois, and they live happily beside the Gatineau Park near Chelsea, Quebec with their prized cat Timinou.
Photo credit: Fred Cattroll