George Speed


Speed headshot

Bassist George Speed enjoys a career that combines teaching with solo, chamber, and orchestral performing. He is Associate Professor of Double Bass at Oklahoma State University and Principal Bass of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. In 2016, Mr. Speed begins a summer appointment at the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, NC.

In the orchestral sphere, Mr. Speed has performed with some of the world's most esteemed conductors, including Seiji Ozawa, Claudio Abbado, Jaap van Zweden, David Robertson, James Levine, Keith Lockhart, Andrew Litton, Gerard Schwarz, Pierre Boulez, Hans Graf, Christopher Hogwood, and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. From 2001 to 2003, Speed held a tenured position with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, based in Fort Lauderdale. In 2005, he was appointed Principal Bass with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, with which he performed close to 30 concerts last year. Since 1999, Mr. Speed has performed regularly with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, including 25 domestic and 3 international tours, a nationally televised performance at Super Bowl XXXVI, and for 12 Independence Day concerts. Additional orchestral experience includes: Boston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Boston Classical Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Händel and Haydn Society, Fort Worth Symphony, and Tulsa Symphony.

As a soloist, Mr. Speed won the Jackson (TN) Symphony Concerto Competition, the Vanderbilt Concerto Competition, and the SC All-State Concerto Competition. As part of the 1998 Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, he was a featured performer for Composer-in-Residence Henri Dutilleux's chamber work Les Citations. In 1999, the Pierre Boulez Workshop at Carnegie Hall selected Mr. Speed to participate in a performance of Schoenberg's Kammersymphonie, Op. 9 in Weill Recital Hall under Maestro Boulez. He also performs regularly with the Oklahoma City-based chamber ensemble Brightmusic.

A devoted educator, Mr. Speed received the 2009 Wise-Diggs-Berry Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts at Oklahoma State University. From 2011-2015 he served as a guest faculty member at the Eastern Music Festival, and in 2016 he was appointed to the faculty at the Brevard Music Center. Locally, Mr. Speed is particularly committed to the advancement of double bass playing in the state of Oklahoma, having presented numerous clinics around the state. In 2005, he joined with OU bass instructor Mark Osborn to present the first Oklahoma Bass Bash, a summer clinic for Oklahoma pre-college bassists. The Bass Bash (www.okbassbash.com), now in its twelfth year, continues to be a thriving collaborative effort between OSU and OU, with the location of the camp alternating between Stillwater and Norman. 

A native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Mr. Speed earned his Bachelor of Music degree, summa cum laude, from Vanderbilt University and his Master of Music degree from Boston University. Additional studies inlcude two summers at both the Aspen Music Festival and the Tanglewood Music Center, where in 1999 he received the Rose Thomas Smith Legacy Prize. His principal teachers have been Edwin Barker, Edgar Meyer, and Bill Scott. Mr. Speed plays on a late 19th century Neapolitan bass by Carlo Loveri.