Musician’s Spotlight

Mark Morton, Principal Bassist


How old were you when you started playing?
I started playing double bass and piano pretty much simultaneously on my 11th birthday.
Did you attend college for music?
I earned four degrees from The Juilliard School in NYC: Doctor of Musical Arts, Master of Music, Bachelor of Music, and Artist Diploma.
How long have you been playing in the Abilene Philharmonic?
I started playing as principal bass in the middle of the 16-17 Season.
Have you played in any other professional groups? 
For 23 years I played in the Columbus (OH) Symphony Orchestra, 14 years as Principal Bass and 9 years as Assistant Principal Bass. I am also Principal Bass in the Lubbock Symphony orchestra. My primary employment is Associate Professor of Double Bass at Texas Tech University.
What is the history behind your personal instrument?
The bass that I play in the orchestra is a very large bass made in Naples, Italy in 1805 by Joseph and Antonio Gagliano. When playing solos or chamber music, I play on a smaller bass also made in Italy in 1765 by J.B. Guadagnini. When I travel by air, I play on a copy of the Guadagnini made in 2013 by Paul Hart near Salt Lake City. This copy was commissioned by Robertsons & Sons in Albuquerque, NM, and there has since been several copies made of this bass.
Do you play any other instruments?
I play closely related instruments to the Bass and Piano: Electric Bass, and any keyboard instruments, particularly the harpsichord. Recent additions include playing guitar and singing. Recently, I made my erhu debut, and on occasion I like to goof around on the Theremin. Regarding the piano, I played as piano soloist the Beethoven “Emperor Concerto” with the Houston Symphony and other orchestras while still a teenager.
If you have one, who is your favorite composer?
Who is your favorite non-classical artist?
The Beatles. In fact, I teach a course at Texas Tech University called “The Music of The Beatles.”
If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?
No such thing.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Go into music only if you cannot imagine yourself doing anything else.