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Jon Hamar is a versatile artist whose ability to find a tasteful, unique voice in any musical situation has made him a staple in the music scene. Hamar’s work ethic and discipline have kept him busy over his career that spans more than twenty years.
He was born and raised in Kennewick, Washington and grew up in a musical family. He began playing the string bass at age 11 and continued through public school playing in orchestra, jazz band and the local youth symphony.
Jon earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Classical Double Bass Performance from Eastern Washington University under the tutelage of Russian bassist Roma Vayspapir. While in Spokane Hamar played in university ensembles as well as the Spokane Symphony and the Bob Curnow Big Band. Hamar continued on to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York where he graduated with a Master’s degree in Jazz and Contemporary Media in 2001. While at Eastman, he studied the bass with Jeff Campbell and James VanDemark and worked closely with Harold Danko, Fred Sturm and Clay Jenkins.
Jon has performed with Ernestine Anderson, Benny Golson, Terell Stafford, Pete Christlieb the Jeff Hamilton Trio, and the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
In 2012, he joined the faculty at the Centrum Jazz Workshop under artistic director John Clayton and, in 2015, joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee. Hamar is currently assistant professor of bass at the Nathalie L. Haslam School of Music in Knoxville, Tennessee.
He began performing with the Jeff Hamilton Trio in July of 2018 and recently toured Europe with the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Jeff Hamilton and John Clayton, featuring renowned vocalist Cecil McLaren Salvant.
Nicholas Walker is a musical omnivore, a musician who brings a broad range of training and experiences to the double bass - classical and jazz, modern and baroque, concertos, solo recitals, chamber music, and orchestral work. Walker has played with jazz masters such as Illinois Jacquet, Hank Jones, Frank Wess, Branford Marsalis, Steve Turre, and Clark Terry, as well as progressive players from a younger generation, Bill Charlap, John Stetch, Aaron Goldberg, Matt Ray, Paul Carlon, and John Ellis. He has recorded with Cuban jazz luminaries, Juan Pablo Torres, Paquito D'Rivera, Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernandez, Jose Fajardo, and Giovanni Hidalgo, and worked with Cabaret artists Blossom Dearie, Anny Gould, Steve Ross, as well as with the bandoneon Tango virtuoso, Daniel Binelli. As an orchestral musician, Walker has freelanced with the Oslo Philharmonic, the National Arts Center Orchestra of Canada, the Handel & Haydn Society Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, Phoenix Chamber Orchestra, the Lake Tahoe Music Festival, and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra. As a soloist, he has premiered a concerto by Dana Wilson as well as his own compositions, and was featured at International Society of Bassist Conventions, Michaelstein Kaleidoskop, the Beijing International Double Bass Festival, Berlin Bass 2010, and BassLucca 2018. A Fulbright Scholar, Walker has diplomas from Rice University, the Nadia Boulanger Conservatoire de Paris, and Stony Brook University, earning his Doctorate in Early Music at Stony Brook University in 2004. He has given masterclasses and performances at music centers around the world, including guest residencies at conservatories in the U.S.A., Canada, Seoul, Amsterdam, the Hague, Oslo, Hanover, Leipzig, Rostock, Adelaide, St. Petersburg, Dublin, Belfast, and Beijing. As a composer, Walker has published two double-bass concertos, several chamber works, and two sets of duets for double bass & violin/viola/cello/or bass, as well as works for solo bass, one of which won first prize in the ISB Composition Competition in 1997. He has been heard on NPR's Performance Today performing some of these compositions, and many of these pieces can be heard on his YouTube page.
Walker is a double bass player, professor of music at Ithaca College, and past-president of the International Society of Bassists. He grew up playing music in Rochester NY with family and friends, and he has had a fulfilling career connecting with people and communities through shared music experiences. Nicholas plays music in schools, retirement communities, concert halls, outdoor festivals, prisons, hospitals, parks, homes, bars, and community centers - wherever music is needed. He believes that music elevates the human condition, that access to live music is a basic human need (like clear water and shelter), that the act of attending to music ignites the empathy sectors in the brain, which in turn releases oxytocin, building intimacy, and helps to lead us all to compassion, morality, and love.