James Bass, a choral conductor and singer with Florida roots, has been named artistic director of the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay.
Bass, director of choral studies at Western Michigan University since 2006, will also be associate professor and director of choral activities at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where the Master Chorale is artist in residence at the School of Music. He succeeds Richard Zielinski, who left last year to become director of choral activities at the University of Oklahoma.
Bass received his bachelor and masters degrees in music from USF and his doctorate in conducting from the University of Miami. He was choral director at Blake High School for the Performing Arts in Tampa and the University of Central Florida. He was an assistant conductor with the Master Chorale and conductor of the Tampa Bay Youth Orchestra. Listeners to WUSF-FM classical and NPR station may remember him as an announcer.
"The Tampa Bay area means so much to me," said Bass, 36, whose parents live in Temple Terrace. "I think there is so much potential at USF and the Master Chorale."
As a singer — naturally, he is a bass — Bass has been a soloist with the Master Chorale, the Florida Orchestra and the New World Symphony of Miami Beach. Since 2003, he has been a member of Seraphic Fire, an acclaimed professional chamber choir based in Miami. This month, he is singing with the group in eight performances of Monteverdi's Vespers in South Florida and Mexico City.
Bass cited USF's new music building, which opens next year, as key to his decision to return to the area. He has a close relationship with Robert Summer, founding conductor of the Master Chorale and retired professor of choral studies at USF. "Bob Summer meant so much to me as a mentor, and to have a chance to reconnect with that is very special," Bass said.
John Fleming can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8716. He blogs on Critics Circle at blogs.tampabay.com/arts.