The orchestral music community is small and close-knit. To create a level playing field and ensure fairness, orchestra auditions occur behind a curtain. When Sarasota Orchestra’s most recent auditions for a section bassist ended, Principal Bass John Miller was overjoyed to find out the winning performance had been rendered by his former student, Reed Tucker.
Curiosity Compels the Kid
Nine years ago, as an ensemble coach for the Sarasota Youth Orchestras (SYO), John recognized in Reed a 14-year-old of great intelligence, a willingness to be coached, and an innate musical sense.
“He was always a great kid and just eager to learn,” John recalls. “The successful ones usually are.”
For Reed, a love of the Beatles’ symphonic sounds drew him to the upright bass. His first private teacher, David Cobb, rapidly honed Reed’s raw talent and encouraged him to try out for the SYO, where Reed took placement in the most advanced strings ensemble.
In 2013, Reed won the Edward and Ida Wilkof Young Artists Concerto Competition, earning Reed an opportunity to play with Sarasota Orchestra’s professional musicians as both soloist and stand partner. The experience gave him insight into the Orchestra’s warm, familial culture.
Reed Tucker's finalist portrait from the 2013 Edward and Ida Wilkof Young Artists Concerto Competition.
“In the three years that I was in the Youth Philharmonic, each Side-by-Side Concert was inspiring in its own way,” Reed says. “The repertoire, sharing a stand with John Miller and [Assistant Principal] John Price on my other side—it felt so powerful to be a member of that bass section.”
More than a Music Education
Through his experience with SYO, Reed says he didn’t just learn to excel in upright bass performance; he learned how to leave his comfort zone and enjoy unfamiliar territory as a place where growth happens.
“That's probably my biggest takeaway from being a part of SYO,” Reed says. “I can put myself in situations in which I'm not comfortable, but I know that there's a lot of room to grow through putting myself in those situations.”
Reed Tucker (R) engages with legendary bassist Edgar Meyer (L) during a masterclass at the Rome Chamber Music Festival in 2017. [Photo by Ashley Dean Whittle]
Nicole Light, Education Officer of Community Impact for the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, says she observed this tenacity in Reed when she taught his 10th-grade Honors English class at Pine View. In fact, determination was something special Nicole noticed in all the students who came to her classroom with SYO experience.
“[They had] that desire for—I would not say perfectionism, but a desire to do their very best, and the discipline to put in the time necessary to create a product they’re proud of,” Nicole says.
Reed shows off his master's diploma at the Juilliard School's commencement this past summer. [Photo by Olga Tucker]
Home on the Stage
Reed performed with Sarasota Orchestra as a substitute musician throughout his studies at Mercer College’s McDuffie Center for Strings and the Juilliard School. He makes his debut as a full member of Sarasota Orchestra’s bass section in the Mozart and Mahler Masterworks concert on January 17-19. With three performances following rehearsals led by guest conductor Steven Sloane, John says Reed’s first week with Sarasota Orchestra will prove “condensed and intense.”
Is Reed daunted? No—he expresses pure excitement to become more immersed in his home orchestra and the demanding repertoire that it performs.