George Speed, Principal Bass

Assistant Professor of Double Bass George Speed enjoys a career that combines teaching with solo, chamber, and orchestral performing. He joins the College of Music faculty after 14 years as Associate Professor of Double Bass at Oklahoma State University, where he received the 2009 Wise-Diggs-Berry Award for Teaching Excellence. For the past four summers, Mr. Speed has served on the artist faculty of the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, North Carolina.

Orchestral playing is central to Mr. Speed’s career. Recently appointed principal bass with the Tallahassee Symphony, he served as Principal Bass of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic from 2005-2019. For 17 years Mr. Speed was a regular player with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, including numerous television broadcasts and domestic and international tours. He has also performed with the Boston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, and Handel and Haydn Society, among others.

Mr. Speed is passionate about both chamber music and solo performance. The Pierre Boulez Workshop at Carnegie Hall selected him to perform Schoenberg’s Kammersymphonie, Op. 9 in Weill Recital Hall under Maestro Boulez in 1999. From 2005-2019 he performed regularly with the Oklahoma City-based chamber ensemble Brightmusic. In August 2018, Centaur Records released Mr. Speed’s recording of his Vivaldi cello sonata 1-6 transcriptions, with forthcoming print publication by Recital Music. 

A native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Mr. Speed earned his Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude, from Vanderbilt University, and his Master of Music degree from Boston University. Additional studies include two summers at both the Aspen Music Festival and the Tanglewood Music Center, where he received the Rose Thomas Smith Legacy Prize. His principal teachers were Edwin Barker, Edgar Meyer, and William Scott. Mr. Speed plays on a late-19th century Neapolitan bass by Carlo Loveri.