Nicholas Walker is an accomplished musician who brings a broad range of training and experience to the string bass: classical and jazz, modern and baroque, solo recitals and chamber ensembles, his enthusiasm and aptitude transcend arbitrary musical boundaries.
Walker earned his DMA in Early Music at Stony Brook University in 2004. Formerly Walker studied with Paul Ellison at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, where he received a BMA in 1994. Walker has also apprenticed with two master mentors: for three years he toured with swing era saxophone legend Illinois Jacquet, and for the last twenty years Walker has worked closely with the pioneering maestro of the double bass, François Rabbath. As a Fulbright Scholar (1994-95) he worked with Rabbath at the Nadia Boulanger Conservatoire de Paris, and has since received two diplomas from L’Institue International Francois Rabbath, one in performance, and one in teaching.
Walker's exuberant and versatile performances on string bass have made him a sought after performer in many styles. He has given solo bass recitals on four continents, and has performed at music festivals worldwide. Walker has played with jazz masters like Illinois Jacquet, Hank Jones, Frank Wess, Wynton Marsalis, Steve Turre, and Clark Terry, as well as progressive players from a younger generation, Bill Charlap, John Stetch, Aaron Goldberg, Matt Ray, William ‘Beaver’ Bausch, Paul Carlon, and John Ellis. Walker has recorded with Cuban jazz luminaries, Juan Pablo Torres, Paquito D'Rivera, Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernandez, Jose Fajardo, and Giovanni Hidalgo. Walker has also worked with Cabaret artists Blossom Dearie, Anny Gould, Steve Ross and others, as well as with the bandoneon Tango virtuoso, Daniel Binelli. An active chamber musician, and New Music enthusiast, Walker is a member of the multi-media ensemble, Ardesco, and Pulitzer Prize winning composer Steve Stucky’s, Ensemble X. Walker has performed with The Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra, a period instrument ensemble under the direction of Roger Norrington and Christopher Hogwood, and also with the The St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, under the direction of Jeffery Meyer. In the fall of 2010 Walker premiered a new concerto by composer Dana Wilson. This piece will see it's professional premiere with Nicholas Walker and the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in the fall of 2011.
An inventive composer, Walker features the string bass in solo, chamber music, and improvisational contexts. In 1998 the International Society of Bassists awarded him Grand Prize for his composition, EADG for Solo Bass. Other commissions include Little Newt for the Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival; a sextet, Magnus Caligus, and a bass/viola duo, Song of Freia, for Ardesco, and Pop Song for String Bass and String Orchestra for the New York State American String Teachers Association, which Walker has performed with the University of South Carolina Orchestra, the NYASTA Faculty Orchestra in Ithaca, at the Autumn Bass Workshop in Adelaide, Australia, in Saratoga Springs, in Boston, and with the Cornell Symphony Orchestra. In 2008 his composition, Paris Skies, will be featured on a Hospicare CD. In 2009 Walker premiered his Grease Fantasy for bass and piano. This piece was also performed with Chris Kim and the Cornell Chamber Orchestra in the spring of 2010, at the 2010 Berlin Double Bass Festival, the 2011 Kaleidoskop Double Bass Festival in Germany, and will be featured in a recital at the 2011 ISB convention in San Francisco.
As the professor of double bass at Ithaca College, Walker demonstrates the art of playing in the broadest sense: he shows the full capacity of the instrument, and guides students to new levels in the traditional repertoire, early music, new music, jazz music, as well as in the art of improvisation and creative collaboration. (To see a video presentation about the Ithaca College Bass Studio, click here.) Walker has been on the faculty at the BassWorks Festival in Adelaide, Australia; the Domaine Forget Music Festival, Quebec; at the Rabbath Institute, Washington, D.C.; and he has lectured for the International Society of Bassists, the New York American String Teachers Association/National String Orchestra Association, and for the New York State School Music Association on bass pedagogy. Walker has given masterclasses and recitals at Baldwin Wallace University, and the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland, Nazareth College and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, at Oberlin College, at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Sookmyoung University in Soeul Korea, Concordia College in Adelaide Australia, and at the Rimsky Korsakov Conservatory of Music in St. Petersburgh. Walker has been on the faculty of the Stony Brook Pre-College Program, the Music Conservatory of Westchester, and Mansfield University. Currently Mr. Walker is a full-time faculty member at Ithaca College, and he also teaches bass at Cornell University.