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  • Musicians of the NSO

Musician Monday: Joel Reist

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Happy #MusicianMonday! Today we're featuring Bassist Joel Reist, who joined the Musicians of the Nashville Symphony in 1998, and has served as principal bass since 2003. His teachers include Paul Ellison at Rice University and Anthony Bianco Carnegie Mellon University. He has performed with the Houston and San Antonio Symphonies, and was a member of the New World Symphony. Joel is also a faculty member of Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music. His wife Sari De Leon-Reist is a cellist, and they often perform together in the Symphony. In his interview, he talks about the legacy of his personal instrument, his current "desert island" albums, and his love of soccer.

How did you become a bassist and what made you stick with it long enough to land a gig in an orchestra?

I can still recall the elation I felt when I first played a note on my bass with other young musicians. It was a B-flat actually, and I was absolutely hooked immediately.

Does your personal instrument have a unique story behind it?

Yes! Since 2018 I've owned a bass that was in the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1925-2016. It was made in Livorno, Italy around 1800 by Pietro Cateni. In the accompanying photo the bass is pictured (front row, 4th from left) with it's 1925-1962 owner, Max Strassenberger. I love this photo. The Philly Orchestra bass section from circa 1940 looks like a bunch of characters from the film "Goodfellas"!

If you had the opportunity to program your own concert, what might you select and why?

I'm pretty conservative in this respect and would probably go for the traditional overture, concerto and symphony format. Just thinking out loud but...

– Wagner, Overture to “Tannhäuser”

– Bach, Violin Concerto in E major

– Brahms, Symphony No. 4

Outside of your instrument what hobbies do you and/or your family participate in?

I've been an avid soccer player for many years. Some of my most valued friendships from outside of my music circles are with my teammates. For a couple years of my kids' childhoods they thought every adult I associated with either played bass or


Top 3 Desert Island Albums?

This selection would change daily. For today it would be:

  1. King Crimson, "In the Court of the Crimson King" (It's "heavy" and unique and scratches that itch).

  2. Frank Zappa, "Sheik Yerbouti" (it's very funny).

  3. Wagner/Maazel, "Das Ring Ohne Worte" (since it's only one CD).

Favorite spot in Nashville for taking in Nature?

I love Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Shelby Park. It's close to my home and is perfect for running, nature basking, or people watching.

What do you miss most about performing with the symphony?

I miss the stability of my job, I miss the community of musicians, I miss the audience, and I miss the music.

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