Director / Double Bass
Joseph H. Conyers was appointed assistant principal bassist of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2010. He joined the Philadelphia Orchestra after a one-and-a-half year tenure with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, three-and-a half years as principal bassist of the Grand Rapids Symphony (MI), and four summers as a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra (NM).
Described by the Grand Rapids Press as “a lyrical musician who plays with authenticity that transcends mere technique,” Conyers has performed with many orchestras as soloist. Conyers was featured with the Grand Rapids Symphony (2008) in a concerto commissioned by the GRS and written for him entitled “Prayers of Rain and Wind” by John B Hedges. He has performed with the Alabama Symphony, Flagstaff Symphony, the Savannah Symphony and Civic Orchestras, and the Sphinx Symphony having won second prize at the 2004 Sphinx Competition in Detroit, MI. In June 2010, Conyers made a solo appearance with the Dekalb Symphony Orchestra (GA). Engagements during the 2012-2013 season include solo performances with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia (PA), Richmond Symphony (VA), and Main Line Symphony (PA).
Conyers has performed all over the world. He served as principal (solo) bass of the Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra with whom he traveled extensively and recorded on the Naxos label. He also served as assistant principal bass for Symphony in C (formerly the Haddonfield Symphony) in the early 2000s. Conyers has been a fellowship student and held principal positions at numerous music festivals including the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland, Brevard Music Center, and the Britten-Pears Music Festival in England. Conyers has performed with a number of major orchestras including the Boston and Detroit Symphonies, Minnesota Orchestra, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in a number of prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria.
As a chamber musician, Conyers has performed numerous times with colleagues in the Philadelphia Orchestra. He made his Chamber Music Society (CMS) of Lincoln Center debut in August of 2014 and will return with CMS in the fall of 2014. Other chamber music festivals and collaborations have included the Savannah Music Festival (GA), Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival (VA), Kingston Chamber Music Festival (RI), Lexington Chamber Music Festival (KY), with artists that include James Ehnes, Daniel Hope, and numerous musicians from around the globe.
A recipient of numerous awards and honors, Conyers attended The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and graduated with his bachelors degree studying with both Hal Robinson, principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and double bass soloist Edgar Meyer. Other mentors have included David Warshauer, principal bassist of the former Savannah Symphony, Daniel Swaim, and Albert Laszlo. In 1999 he was one of the first guests on NPR’s “From the Top” with host Christopher O’Riley in one of its pilot shows. In 2007 Conyers was named one of “30 Leaders 30 and Under” by Ebony Magazine. He was the inaugural recipient of the Sanford Allen Award from the Sphinx Competition, and in February of 2010, he was the first Sphinx Competition laureate to serve on the distinguished jury panel for the competition.
Sometimes juggling a studio of over a dozen students, Conyers is committed to education and community engagement through music. He was heavily involved in developing curriculum for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Sound Learning program – a program that integrates music into the school curriculum at local elementary schools. He served as adjunct faculty at Clark Atlanta University.. He was an adjunct professor of bass at Calvin College (MI), and continues a connection with the school as a guest clinician at the annual Calvin College String Summit. Conyers has taught at numerous summer music festivals including The Masterworks Festival, in Winona Lake, IN, New York State Summer School of the Arts, and the Philadelphia International Music Festival. He is also in collaboration with Time for Three bassist (and Curtis classmate) Ranaan Meyer with the development of: Wabass Workshop – An institute for the 21st century bass player. In 2011, Conyers was added to the double bass teaching faculty at Temple University in Philadelphia.
For much of 2010, Conyers was featured in a television commercial as a part of a Mutual of Omaha advertisement campaign. Conyers’ “aha moment” was about his inspiration founding a nonprofit in Savannah, GA called Project 440 (project440.org). Formerly known as MusicAlive!, Project 440 has reached thousands of youths – exposing children and adults to classical music throughout the Savannah region. Broadening on that mission and acknowledging how the classical music industry must continually evolve with our ever changing world, Project 440 educates musicians from around the country how to become active, relevant, and integral pillars within their communities. In its first year, the Project 440 High School Seminar was presented to youth of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and to semi-finalists of the Sphinx Competition. Additionally, Project 440 partners with the Curtis Institute of Music in presenting the Community Artist Program – a credited course that allows students of Curtis to explore creating musical projects that affect the world around them.
Conyers is a musician representative to the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia Orchestra. He also serves on the board of directors of The American String Teachers Association as artist representative, the Board of Overseers for the Curtis Institute of Music, and the National Advisory Board for the Atlanta Music Project (GA).
Conyers performs on the “Zimmerman/Gladstone” 1802 Vincenzo Panormo Double Bass which he has affectionately named “Norma.”
Fun Facts: Sometimes described as a fitness fanatic, Conyers is also an avid natural bodybuilder and has competed on the regional level in and around Philadelphia. He took first prize in the “Male Model” (Men’s Physique) division of the 2012 Mr. And Ms. Natural Philly Competition and most recently placed 3rd as a heavyweight at the same competition in the bodybuilding division in 2014. Additionally, Conyers was selected as one of Philadelphia’s Sexy Singles in the 2014 edition of the Philadelphia Daily News / Inquirer annual’s Sexy Singles feature.