Artist of the Week: Jesse Wang
March 6, 2017
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The dark wood of the elephantine instrument glistened as the small boy stared at it in awe. He picked up the bow, placed it on the string and struck out a note. The bass resonated with a deep rumble. The wire of the string quivered back and forth, the delicate vibrations expanding like a ripple of water in a pond. The boy’s eyes gleamed, and, at that moment, he knew what instrument he wanted to play.
Freshman Jesse Wang started playing the bass in third grade when Wayland Public School Strings Director Whitney Tandon visited the second graders at the close of the year with an instrument petting zoo.
“I just remember seeing the bass and liked how it seemed unique from other instruments, and I felt like playing it,” Wang said.
Wang started taking private lessons with bass teacher Kyle Olmstead in fifth grade, and his career as a bassist has since blossomed. He has amassed a collection of accolades ranging from achievements within Wayland Public Schools to earning statewide recognition.
Wang attended Junior Districts in both seventh and eighth grade, securing the first chair of the bass section in the latter year. Junior Districts is a yearly music festival where seventh, eighth and ninth graders audition for the opportunity to play in a highly skilled orchestra. Wang also managed to make Senior Districts, which is a music festival available to auditions for all four grades of high school. He ranked second within the district, receiving an All State recommendation. According to Wang, approximately 25 All State bassist recommendees out of 50 total bassists who made Senior Districts auditioned for a coveted seat in the elite All State orchestra. Only ten bassists would be selected for the final roster, and to his delight, Wang was one of them.
“With my All State audition, I knew it wasn’t going to be something that was easy to get into,” Wang said. “I’m excited for All States because I’ve never been before, and I look forward to playing with the top youth [musicians] in the state.”
Although Wang has accomplished several feats within the youth musical world, the journey to becoming a successful bassist has not been a path of rainbows.
“There have been times where I was fed up with orchestras and bands filling up my schedule, and I wanted to just not do them,” Wang said. ” I think it was a good choice to continue playing.”
Wang also feels that basses are generally undervalued by both people within the musical community and those outside of it.
“In the future, my hopes for bassists are that they are more recognized as part of an orchestra, there [are] more bass solos and [that basses] are not just branded as the big cello.”
As a freshman who has already ascended to a higher stage than many older musicians strive to reach, Wang looks forward to the future with optimism.
“My ultimate goal is probably to be first chair [at] All States someday, or maybe get into All Eastern,” Wang said. “I just hope to improve as a bass player in general.”
Wang offered some advice for up-and-coming bassists within the Wayland community.
“The major key is to climb the mountaintop and never give up. Hard work and dedication pays off. Yesterday, the grass was brown. Today, I watered it and made it green,” Wang said. “#NeverGiveUp. Work hard at something that you want and be dedicated.”