Joseph Conyers, double bass
Joseph H. Conyers was appointed assistant principal bassist of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2010. He joined the Philadelphia Orchestra after tenures with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony (MI) where he served as principal bass, and Santa Fe Opera (NM).
Described by the Grand Rapids Press as “a lyrical musician who plays with authenticity that transcends mere technique,” Conyers has performed with numerous orchestras as soloist including the Alabama, Flagstaff, & Richmond Symphonies, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Sphinx Symphony having won second prize at the 2004 Sphinx Competition in Detroit, MI. In 2008, John B Hedges wrote Conyers a bass concerto, “Prayers of Rain and Wind,” commissioned by the Grand Rapids Symphony.
As a chamber musician, Conyers is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Other chamber music festivals and collaborations have included the Ilumina Festival (Brazil), Savannah Music Festival (GA), Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival (VA), Kingston Chamber Music Festival (RI), Lexington Chamber Music Festival (KY), and the Festival Internacional de Música de Esmeraldas (Ecuador) with artists that include James Ehnes, Daniel Hope, and members of the Emerson String Quartet.
Conyers, a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, received his bachelors degree studying with both Harold 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.
Conyers is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. He is a 2019 Sphinx Organization Medal of Excellence recipient, an honor accompanied by a substantial career grant and ceremonies at the Kennedy Center and the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2018, Conyers received the C. Hartman Kuhn award, the highest honor bestowed a musician of The Philadelphia Orchestra and selected by its music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. In 2015, he was the recipient of the inaugural Young Alumni Award from his alma mater, The Curtis Institute of Music. In 2007 Conyers was named one of “30 Leaders 30 and Under” by Ebony Magazine. In 1999, Conyers was one of the first guests on a pilot show taping of NPR’s “From the Top” with host Christopher O’Riley.
Conyers is committed to education and community engagement through music. He has served as adjunct faculty at Calvin College (MI), Clark Atlanta University (GA) and is currently at Temple University (PA). Conyers has taught at numerous summer music festivals including the Philadelphia International Music Festival, Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and Academy, and the National Repertory Orchestra. In addition, he has given masterclasses and lectures across the country including The Colburn School, The Curtis Institute of Music, The New England Conservatory, Yale University, Ohio State University, University of Georgia, and the Peabody Conservatory.
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 the nonprofit Project 440 (project440.org). Through its nationally recognized curricula, Project 440 uses music as tool to engage, educate, and inspire young musicians – providing them with career and life skills to become tomorrow’s civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders. Partners have included Carnegie Hall, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Curtis Institute of Music, the New York State Summer School of the Arts, and The Settlement Music School (PA).
In 2015, Conyers was appointed music director of Philadelphia’s famed All City Orchestra, an ensemble showcasing the top orchestral talent of students in the school district of Philadelphia. Project 440’s programs are accessible by all high school music in the School District of Philadelphia free of charge.
Conyers currently serves on the National Advisory Board of the Atlanta Music Project in Atlanta, GA and has served on both the board of directors for ASTA (American String Teachers Association) and the Board of Overseers for the Curtis Institute of Music.
Conyers performs on the "Zimmerman/Gladstone" 1802 Vincenzo Panormo Double Bass which he has affectionately named “Norma.”