Backstage Pass: Robin Kesselman

Backstage Pass: Robin Kesselman

Robin Kesselman was appointed Principal Bass of the Houston Symphony by Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada in 2014. He has performed as guest principal bass with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Israel Philharmonic, traveled internationally with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and appeared with the National, Atlanta, and Baltimore Symphonies.

Man hiking mountain in daylight.
Hiking Taylor Mountain in Teton County, Wyoming.

Robin frequently performs as a soloist and chamber musician and presents recital programs and masterclasses at various universities across the country. He has appeared as a soloist with the Houston Symphony in subscription performances of the Koussevitzky Concerto for Double Bass, and he was features in Krysztof Penderecki’s Duo Concertante during  the composer’s Carnegie Hall residency in collaboration with the Curtis Institute. Recent festival engagements include leading the bass section of the Grand Teton, Mainly Mozart, and Arizona Musicfest festival orchestras. He has also served as faculty for the National Youth Orchesta of the United States of America, Curtis Institute’s Summerfest, the Richard Davis Bass Conference, and the summer residency of the Filarmónica Joven de Colombia.

Robin holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern California and an Artist Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music. His primary teachers have included David Allen Moore, Harold Robinson, Edgar Meyer, Paul Ellison, Chris Hanulik, and Virginia Dixon.

Houston Symphony musicians in Berlin, Germany.
The Houston Symphony bass section on stage at the Konzerthaus Berlin.

You recently celebrated your five-year anniversary with the Houston Symphony. What is your favorite memory so far?
The Symphony’s recent European Tour was a fantastic time on so many level. My colleagues and I got to represent Houston playing in some of the world’s great concert halls. A tour is an incredible musical and personal bonding experience, the impacts of which continue long after returning home.

How did you choose your instrument?
I come from a musical family of singers and choral musicians. I wanted to play an instrument, but couldn’t decide between the bassoon and the double bass. Something about these oddballs always intrigued me… In fourth grade, there was an instrument petting zoo where we could try all of the string instruments. After picking up the quarter-sized double bass, I was hooked!

What would you be in you were not a professional musician?
The hours would be grueling, but I can imagine working as a chef. I like working with my hands, in a nontraditional office, consumed by minute detail—there are many similarities!

Mother and son pose after skydiving.
Mom and me after skydiving on her 66th birthday.

What does music mean to you?
Music describes the emotions and experiences of the human condition. It personifies what it feels like to be human in sound. Music from so many time periods and countries continues to remind me that loving your family, despairing over loss, doubting yourself, or euphorically succeeding felt the same during Beethoven, Bach, or Ravel’s times as it does today.

Robin Kesselman is sponsored by Ralph Burch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Give the gift of music

Symphony on Demand vouchers are redeemable for 60+ Classical, Bank of America POPS, and PNC Family Series performances.