Meet the Musician: Bassist Christian Gray


How long have you been playing bass and where did you go to school?

Although I started playing the double bass in 4th grade, I grew up playing mostly electric bass guitar. I didn't take the double bass seriously until I began studying with a teacher when I was in high school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. That is where I fell in love with the instrument and classical music in general. After high school, I earned a Bachelor's as well as a Performance Diploma at Boston University's College of Fine Arts. I also just completed a really wonderful year at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music in pursuit of a Master's.

Have you had much opera experience in the past?

Besides a handful of school productions, opera is still fairly new to me! It is a fun challenge understanding and exploring the subtle differences between opera and symphonic playing.

You joined the orchestra in the middle of our run of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. What did it feel like to be dropped in the middle of an orchestra without rehearsing with the group?

To be honest, it was initially terrifying! There wasn't much technically to worry about in the bass part, but I did have to spend a lot of time studying the score and finding as many different recordings as I could, just to be ready for anything that could possibly happen when I showed up. Fortunately, the bass section and whole orchestra were so welcoming and easy to play with that the performances felt second nature by the end of the week.
What are you looking forward to playing the most during the 2017-18 season?
Candide was the first opera I ever saw live, so I'm very excited to actually play it. Handel's Alcina will be a lot of fun as well. I think Baroque operas can be really magical.

What do you enjoy doing when your bass is in its case?

I really love vegetarian cooking. I get a lot of joy out of making food for friends. I try to spend a lot of time outdoors as well.

Where did you play this summer?

I was a fellow this summer at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, MA. Some repertoire highlights for me were Fred Lerdal's Waltzes for Low String Quartet and Strauss's Alpine Symphony. After that, I'm looking forward to settling in DC and officially joining the opera!