Scott Pingel became Principal Bass of the San Francisco Symphony in 2004, having previously served in that position with the Charleston Symphony. Prior to that, he was a member of the New World Symphony. He has also served as guest principal with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Mr. Pingel received degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and the Manhattan School of Music. Also a jazz musician, he has worked with artists including Michael Brecker, Geoff Keezer, and James Williams.
Associate Principal Bass
Member since 1975
Hometown: Miami, FL
My father, a bassist who’s done it all in the music business, certainly influenced my basic approach to bass playing. Also, three summers of study and performance early on at Tanglewood (then called the Berkshire Music Center) showed me how energizing and challenging a career in orchestral music could be.
On playing in an orchestra:
There is a certain alchemy to making music, and when all the ingredients are just right, the performance can really soar. While each one of us in the Orchestra controls only the sound of our own instrument, a good performance rests on how well we listen and react to each other. And, as a touchstone for the collective energy onstage, the conductor gives structural and emotional shape to the music with gestures that hopefully make playing as a unified ensemble easy. It’s endlessly fascinating to see how differently conductors approach their task.
I am an avid bicyclist and I also enjoy jamming with musicians at my neighborhood blues bar, Skip’s Tavern. My first CD, released in 2006 and available at www.larryepsteinbass.com and at the Symphony Store, also features some of the top Bay Area jazz musicians interpreting seven of my own tunes.
Assistant Principal Bass
Richard & Rhoda Goldman Chair
Member since 1980
Hometown: Arlington, MA
I started writing music in high school. I studied composition at Eastman and the New England Conservatory, and with John Adams at the San Francisco Conservatory. I also enjoy writing popular songs and music for chamber ensembles. I’ve been on the faculty of the SF Conservatory since 1985. I teach privately at different levels, and I’ve done master classes across the country.
I enjoy listening to Brazilian music from the 1930s and ‘40s—it’s so melodic and full of character, and often harmonically sophisticated.
I loved reading the books in the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. It was great fun revisiting late-twentieth century San Francisco in these books. The characters are vividly drawn and the plots outrageous. The dialogue writing is superb. I laughed out loud.
Stephen Tramontozzi has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.
Name: Charles Chandler
SFS member since: 1992
Hometown: Mill Valley, CA
Playing in the SFS:
I feel that in San Francisco we are uniquely fortunate to have the most enthusiastic and sensitive audience in the world. It is a joy and honor to perform for people who love and care so much about music—and have done so for the past hundred years.
Began playing the bass:
Although I grew up in a family of flute players, from early on I was drawn to the resonant sounds of the bass. Growing up in Mill Valley, I used to love to listen to the low, penetrating sounds of the fog horns calling at night. Oddly, as a youngster I would prefer to sing bass parts to favorite songs instead of melodies. I made my first bass out of a cardboard packing tube, strings and a piece of wood.
Our home was always full of music. My mother was principal flute player with the Marin Symphony for thirty-eight years, and I used to enjoy listening as the sounds of her practicing and teaching filled the house.
On becoming a professional musician:
I have been extremely fortunate to have had some wonderful bass teachers and support along the way. In high school I played in the SFSYO, and got an exciting glimpse of what the life of a professional orchestral musician is like. I also studied bass with Shinji Eshima, who plays in the SF Opera Orchestra and is an amazing and inspiring teacher. He prepared me for Juilliard.
Charles Chandler has served as a Symphony mentor in the SF Symphony Community of Music Makers program.
Member since 1981
Hometown: Northridge, CA
I love improvisational theater. Doing improv requires amazing listening skills and the ability to be present—what drives a scene is how you listen and relate to someone else on stage. I also do a great deal of Feldenkrais, the movement method, which helps with my own health and well-being as well as my playing.
I enjoy listening to the Guarneri Quartet playing late Beethoven string quartets; also recordings of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Schubert lieder. I love listening to him because of the quality of his sound and his amazing musicality—it’s all so perfect and effortless.
Advice for aspiring musicians:
Take a movement class. It makes such a difference to become aware of what you’re doing with your body while you’re playing. Take yoga or Feldenkrais, whatever it is—this is especially true for young bass players, because bass is such a physical instrument. Also, I think it’s important to learn and practice music away from your instrument. Study scores, practice visualization, and listen.
SFS member since: 1983
Hometown: West Islip, NY
Music schools you attended: Eastman, Juilliard
Began playing music: At age 6
Musical inspirations: Attending School of Orchestral Studies at Saratoga, NY, summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra
If I were not a professional musician, I might be a: Chef
Favorite composers: Mahler, Stravinsky
Favorite works featuring my instrument: Mahler, Symphony No. 1; Stravinsky, Firebird Suite and Rite of Spring
When I’m not working, I enjoy: Fly fishing, golf
Recent reading: Undaunted Courage, by Stephen Ambrose
On my CD player/iPod: Various jazz artists
Favorite thing to do in the Bay Area: Spending a day out at Point Reyes for relaxation.