BassJeremy Kurtz-Harris


Sophie and Arthur Brody Foundation Chair

Bassist Jeremy Kurtz-Harris holds the Sophie and Arthur Brody Foundation Principal Bass Chair of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Kurtz-Harris has a diverse musical background that includes solo, chamber and orchestral performance. He is the winner of numerous competitions, including the 1997 International Society of Bassists solo competition, and has been the principal bassist of the SDSO since 2004.

His recital experience is extensive, including solo appearances in Houston, Memphis, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco and Toronto, as well as appearances at several International Society of Bassists conventions and “Bass 2008” in Paris. He performed Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison’s Bass Concerto with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in March 2007 as one of fifteen bassists participating in the coast-to-coast premiere of the piece. He has also appeared as soloist with New Jersey's Riverside Symphonia and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. 

Mr. Kurtz-Harris has performed chamber music at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, La Jolla SummerFest, San Diego’s Art of Elan chamber music series, and the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. A graduate of The Curtis Institute and Rice University, his main teachers have been Harold Robinson and Timothy Pitts. His wide musical interests have also led him to study with such artists as jazz bassist John Clayton and classical/bluegrass bassist-extraordinaire Edgar Meyer. In addition to his performing pursuits, Mr. Kurtz-Harris is on the Board of Directors of the International Society of Bassists, and he is on the music faculty at San Diego State University and Idyllwild Arts Academy. His first solo CD, Sonatas and Meditations, was released in 2008 in partnership with Houston Classical Radio, KUHF. His website is


Q: What are your favorite three tunes in your CD collection? 

A: I could list hundreds, but today’s answers are…
1) “The Clandestine Adventures of Ms. Merz” by Tin Hat Trio, on the album Book of Silk
2) “Old Virginia Block” by Devon Sproule, on the album Keep Your Silver Shined
3) Any track on Rachel Podger’s J.S. Bach: Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo

Q: How did you choose your instrument? 

A: I began playing piano when I was six (although I did not practice an awful lot). I began playing drums when I was nine, which I liked better…but I always liked low pitches, and when I had a chance to play a string instrument in fifth grade in my public school orchestra, the bass seemed like a great combination of the melodic part of the piano and the rhythm of playing drums – but also the low pitches! I also figured I’d switch over to electric bass after a year or two and play in rock bands, but after getting lessons from a great double bass teacher and playing in youth orchestras from early on, I got hooked on the “upright” bass. 

Q: Name your three favorite movies. 

A: Microcosmos (incredible photography); Eat Drink Man Woman (just one of many “food” movies); My Neighbor Totoro (the Japanese version, with English subtitles) 

Q: What good book have you read most recently? 

A: Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things

Q: What is your choice for dining in San Diego? 

A: Sea Rocket Bistro, 3382 30th Street (Great food, great beers, and an emphasis on local ingredients) 
Pho Van, 4233 El Cajon Boulevard (Best inexpensive Vietnamese food) 
Kous Kous, 3940 4th Ave #110 (Favorite spot in Hillcrest) 

Q: Why do you not own a portable MP3 player? 

A: I love albums: the concept, the scope and the artwork. I love it when I get a new CD and “wear it out” for the first few weeks – listen to it nonstop – especially if it’s the only one in my car. I get to know it and internalize it much more deeply than I would if I just bought the download and then the iPod jumped to another album as soon as I’d finished listening. I am a liner-notes junkie, and need to know who played which instrument on each track, who the engineer was and (when they tell me) what hall or studio it was recorded in and what equipment they used. I want to read a story about the process of creating the album, if they include that, too. I’m even happier if they show a photo of the recording set-up – especially on acoustic recordings. And now, thanks to the (good? bad?) influence of audiophile friends, I’m always on the lookout for great SACD’s. MP3’s just don’t quite hit the mark for me.