Carole and Emilio Gravagno Chair
Citizen musician, entrepreneur, and youth advocate, Joseph H. Conyers, principal bass of The Philadelphia Orchestra, has spent the whole of his career as a multi-faceted 21st-century artist whose innovative work in music education and access has been recognized internationally. Awards for his many celebrated initiatives include the Sphinx Organization’s Medal of Excellence (2019), the organization’s most prestigious recognition; the Theodore L. Kesselman Award from the New York Youth Symphony (2019); the C. Hartman Kuhn Award (2018), The Philadelphia Orchestra’s highest honor bestowed upon a musician of the ensemble; and Musical America’s 30 Top Professionals—Innovators, Independent Thinkers, and Entrepreneurs (2018). In 2015 he was the inaugural recipient of the 2015 Young Alumni Award from his alma mater, the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Harold Robinson, former principal bass of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Edgar Meyer. In 2021 Mr. Conyers’s broad-ranging career was featured on an episode of Jim Cotter’s Articulate on PBS, which featured his work as founder and vision advisor of Project 440, an organization that helps young people use their interest in music to forge new pathways for themselves and ignite change in their communities.
A 2004 Sphinx Laureate, Mr. Conyers has been a bass soloist with numerous orchestras and has for several years been an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He’s music director of Philadelphia’s historic All-City Orchestra, which for over 70 years has showcased the top high school musicians in the School District of Philadelphia. Additionally, he was named director of artistic development for the prestigious Boston University Tanglewood Institute in 2020. One of his newest initiatives is as artistic director and founder of the newly formed Dubhe, a collective of some of the most influential chamber and orchestral musicians in the world with the goal of creating performances centered on authentic community connection, inclusivity, and lasting impact. A frequent guest clinician and public speaker presenting from coast to coast, he is also a sought-after pedagogue with former students in orchestras in North America and Europe. He currently serves on the double bass faculty of the Juilliard School.
Mr. Conyers joined The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2010 as assistant principal bass. He served in the role of acting associate principal bass from 2017 to 2023, and he won the principal position in May 2023. He performs on the “Zimmerman/Gladstone” 1802 Vincenzo Panormo bass, which he has affectionately named “Norma.” Find him on social media @weatherclef.
Photo by Nicole Roche