Wonder Women: Stories From The Women Who Play Bass – Susan Hagen – pt 2 of 2

We’re wrapping up our two-part special feature with two Wonder Women of the Bass, Jacqueline Pickett (last month’s feature) and now Susan Hagen. Susan discusses her backstory, her current projects, and her new book of warm-ups for double bassists. She has also graciously offered a sample warm-up exercise that readers can download and try on double bass. Susan is also involved in the League of Women Bass Players as a founding member and board member of the League. As of this writing, the upcoming League of Women Bass Players’ conference has been moved to January 2023. Head to LOW B for more info, registration info, and to discover what attendees can expect from the event.

For the past 15 seasons, Susan has spent most of her time performing as an extra player with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, including touring with them through the US and Canada. She also spends much time performing with the Boston Pops Orchestra and is on many Boston Symphony and Boston Pops recordings.

Susan recently became the principal double bassist of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, the first female ever to do so, and has been a featured soloist with them! Additionally, Susan performs with the Boston Ballet Orchestra, Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra, and many other groups throughout the Boston area.


Susan is on faculty at Berklee College of Music and is a frequent guest lecturer at Harvard University. She has been a clinician at the Rochester Bass Retreat, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the International Online Bass Summit, Oberlin Conservatory, and Appalachian State, among others.


Susan often performs chamber music with Boston-based chamber music groups. Susan performed at the International Society of Bassists Convention in 2015 with world-renowned electric bassist Steve Bailey and continues to collaborate with him, and is featured on his latest album entitled “Carolina”and has also recorded pieces on Victor Wooten & Steve Bailey’s latest Bass Extremes album “S’low Down.”


She loves to perform & premiere new music; since March 2020, Susan has recorded more than 50 pieces (all written after 2010) and has given the World/US/Regional premiere of over 20 pieces in online recitals. In August 2018, Susan gave the US premiere of David Heyes’ “Seven Last Words from the Cross” in Rochester, NY, and has also commissioned and/or given premieres of double bass music composed by David Heyes, John Alexander, Humphrey Clucas, Símon García, Lloyd Goldstein, John Kennedy, Rodrigo Mata, Luis Guillermo Pérez, Mary Rae, Peter Byron Smith, P. Kellach Waddle, and Martin Wind, among others.


Since March 2020, Susan has given eight solo recitals and has teamed up with her father, guitarist/electric bassist Roy Hagen, arranging and performing music of many genres, ranging from French art songs to current pop tunes. All the money raised at these concerts has been donated to charities around the world.


She was invited to give a solo recital in honor of Teppo Hauta-aho and Frank Proto at the International Society of Bassists’ 2021 Virtual Convention and will appear again at the ISB’s 2022 mini-convention.


Susan recently published a book of Warm-Ups for double bassists called “BASSics of Bass” which can be purchased through her website or at DBB Publications.


In recent seasons Susan has been a soloist with the Harvard Summer School Orchestra, Boston Conservatory String Ensemble, the Warren (Ohio) Philharmonic, the Waltham (MA) Philharmonic, and the Sharon Community Chamber Orchestra. In November of 2022, she will be giving the US premiere of Simón García’s concerto for Amplified Double Bass & Strings with the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra (MA) and again with the Northshore Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2023.


Head to No Treble to see the complete interview with Susan Hagen.

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