DOBBS BIO

Solo Double Bassist “Dobbs” (real name Richard Hartshorne b. 1943) has been playing only in places where there otherwise would not be music since 2004. Places like prisons in the US and Uganda, refugee camps and UN schools in Palestine, drug rehab centers in the US and Afghanistan, drop-in centers for street children in Uganda, remote villages in Bolivia, centers for abused women and homes for blind children in Iraq.

 

“I go wherever I feel the need is the greatest” says Dobbs, “because having an intense musical experience gives people in extreme circumstances a sense of being connected to the world, of not being forgotten. That feeling of how music can affect us stays with them for the rest of their lives.”

Dobbs began his traditional classical career with formal studies in Aarhus, Denmark, Oberlin Conservatory and the Juilliard School. Beginning in Bolivia as a member of the Peace Corp, Dobbs spent six years performing as principal bass in several orchestras in Latin America and was one of the designers of the free youth music program in Costa Rica. He performed with The National Orchestra of Bolivia and The National Orchestra of Costa Rica, and The American Symphony in New York City. He then spent 30 years with the Apple Hill Chamber Players, playing chamber music around the world and serving as Director of Summer Programs at their festival based in New Hampshire. However, he always felt happiest when playing for audiences outside the box of ‘traditional’ classical music audiences (probably .001 percent of the population world wide). So he decided to break free and play for everyone else. Music is a need that we humans have and not only for happy, party, fun music but also for deep, serious, reflective music. Because of war or incarceration or other kinds of human tragedies, some groups need it more than others. He began focusing on places where he saw an extreme need, like prison populations and war-torn nations and so Bach With Verse was formed.

 

Dobbs learned to perform the Six Solo Cello Suites by J.S. Bach on the double bass in the original octave and original key and recorded them to critical acclaim (1997). He has also written 30 stories for Bass and Narrator (Dobbs) most of a comic nature. The combination proved to be a ready-made program. He found that the emotional intensity of the Bach combined with the resonance of the bass in small settings produces a strong and almost hypnotic affect on audiences, regardless or maybe because of their lack of exposure to this kind of music. Followed by the chance to laugh and share with each other, most in these places have found the experience to be life changing.


His host in Uganda tells people; “He fixes broken hearts.”
 

To keep the connection strong, Dobbs always tells the story in the native language. The texts are translated by a native speaker then practiced by Dobbs until he can mimic them perfectly. He has successfully told stories in 17 different languages.

“This is my passion. It’s what I need to do. I believe all classical musicians should do this as well at least some of the time. Still I am honest enough to admit that playing Bach on the bass and telling stories in the country’s language makes an incredible vehicle for reaching directly into people’s hearts and making a strong connection. I want to do this until I drop.”       ~Dobbs

COMPOSITIONS

 

TELLING MOVIES, op. 1 (September 1985)

THREE DAYS IN SEPTEMBER, op. 2 (September 1986)

CUENTOS DE BOLIVIA, op. 3 (September 1987)

YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL, op. 4 (September 1988)

KIDS, op. 5 (September 1989)

HISTORY OF THE BASS PART ONE MY STORY, op. 6 (June 1991)

ALASKAN JOURNAL, op. 7 (September 1991)

CHOCOLATE, WAR, AND TIME, op. 8 (July 9, 1992)

NOT THE WORST THING, op. 9 (September 1992)

RICHARD THE 10TH PART 11 FOR BETTER AND FOR WURST, op. 10 
(June 1993)

ME AND GRAND CENTRAL, op. 11 (September 1993)

LOST AND FOUND, op. 12 (June 1994)

NEW HAMPSHIRE STORIES, op. 13 (September 1994)

INTERVIEW WITH THE DWARF, op. 14 (January 1995)

THE MESSIAH, op. 15 (June 8, 1995)

DARKNESS AT MIDNIGHT, op. 16 (September 1995)

SALUTE TO AN AMERICAN HERO WITH VARIATIONS ON A 
PATRIOTIC THEME, op. 17 (January 1996)

SCENES FROM MOVIES THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN CUT, op. 18 
(September 1996)

WOLVES, LOVE, AND DONUTS, op. 19 (September 1996)

A PARABLE, op. 20 (January 1997)

DOCUDRAMA 1: HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE, op. 21 (January 16, 1998, 12:49 p.m.)

CRIME IN NEW HAMPSHIRE, op. 22 (March 10, 1998)

TAIL OF WOE, op. 23 (September 1999)

URATA’S ERRATA, op. 24 (December 1999)

ANOTHER FAIRYTALE, op. 25 (December 2000)

LA VENDETTA, op. 26 (March 2001)

THE SADDEST DAY, op. 27 (April 6, 2002, 1:33 p.m.)

REHABILITATION BLUES, op. 28 (May 2005)

THE LIONS OF RAMALLAH, op. 29 (2005)

MISTAKEN IDENTITY (Song), op. 30 (2006)

MONKEY BUSINESS, op. 31 (September 2007)

HALALU (Song), op. 32 (2008)

ZA AU JWAND, op. 33 (2009)

ANA ANA (Song), op. 34 (2009)

CONVERSATIONS BY THE NILE, op. 35 (September 2009)

POEMS FROM THE INSIDE (Song Cycle), op. 36 (2014)

SITTING BY THE NILE (Song), op. 37 (2015)

SHOES, op. 38 (2016)

BEAR NAKED, op. 39 (2017)

NORTH CAROLINA BY MISTAKE, op. 40 (2017)