Harold Robinson, the National Symphony's principal and virtuoso bassist, can take care of himself when playing Hans Fryba's Suite for Unaccompanied Bass and Bottesini's Concerto No. 2. But today at 3, in his solo recital at the Performing Arts Center of Montgomery County, he'll have a little help on one basic piece: "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
"Twinkle" is the song on which Suzuki students cut their musical teeth and the concert happens to be a benefit for the Washington Suzuki Bass Project. Who, therefore, is better suited to help Robinson out than 7-year-old Drew Zachry, a Suzuki student? "I don't know if I am accompanying him, or he is accompanying me," says Robinson.
"Bass players get such a late start that it's almost like a handicap," Robinson says. "Playing a string instrument takes hours of contact with bow on string. If you start late you have that much less time to develop." His mother played the violin and his father played the double bass, so Robinson had good reason to try both instruments. He began studying the violin at age 5 and took up the double bass at 12. But if Suzuki basses, which are 1/8 or 1/10 the size of regular basses, had been around then, Robinson could have had an earlier start on the instrument of his choice.