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"Competing in the Sphinx Competition each year has played a significant role in my development as a musician."
Sphinx Spotlight Archive
Mario Garcia Durham
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
19-year-old double-bassist Xavier Foley, the 2014 Sphinx Competition senior division first-place Laureate, took the time to answer some questions from The Quarter Note about his musical background, his experiences in the Competition and what he’s working on now!
What kind of music have you been listening to lately?
I have been listening to classical violin, viola, and cello repertoire, with an aim to find pieces that can be transcribed for the double bass. The two specific composers that I have been listening to are Beethoven and Mozart. Neither one of these two composers has written music specifically for the double bass; however, it is still possible for a double bass player to perform works originally for other instruments.
What has been the most memorable performance of your career thus far?
So far, the most memorable performance I have had was when I performed my Violin and Bass duo, with Nigel Armstrong on violin, at a homeless shelter. This was the first time I performed my own composition in public.
How did you get started composing? What kinds of pieces have you been working on recently?
The moment when I considered composing was the moment when I listened to Edgar Meyers Double Concerto for Bass and cello; featuring Edgar himself on bass and Yo-yo Ma on the cello. I was inspired not only by Edgar’s virtuosity, but by the way Edgar kept me interested and engaged throughout his entire Double Concerto. Regarding the pieces that I compose, I always attempt to create a story with music by borrowing different compositional techniques from different genres. I have recently been working on a Concert Duo for Bass and violin, and a Bass Solo piece; again trying to achieve a mixture of genres into my works.
This was your fourth time participating in the Sphinx Competition. How have you seen yourself grow each year since your first competition in 2010?
Competing in the Sphinx Competition each year has played a significant role in my development as a musician. Since the Sphinx Competition goes beyond the competition aspect and provides opportunities for all semi-finalists to play in master classes and participate in lectures, the competition provided memorable experiences for me to learn from, so when I leave the competition, I know what to start working on. So for me, as a four-year competitor, the Sphinx Competition has made a huge impact on me in the four years that I have competed.
In what ways has being involved with Sphinx changed your life?
Sphinx has allowed me to continue my development as a musician by offering full tuition scholarships to a variety of well renowned Summer Music Festivals. Participation at these Festivals gives me the chance to network with other great musicians. To me, this is life changing.
What advice would you give to future Sphinx Competition participants?
I would advise future Sphinx Competitors to prepare their repertoire to their maximum potential. If, however, a competitor does not advance, then they will now know that what they thought was their maximum potential can actually be expanded beyond what they thought they were capable of. This is how I went about it when competing the four times that I have.
Watch Xavier's winning performance!
For more information about Xavier, visit his bio page.