Meet Engrid Barnett

Reno Phil Bassist
Engrid Barnett_sized

What year did you join the orchestra?
I began playing with the Reno Philharmonic right after graduating from high school during the summer of 1996, and I couldn’t have been more excited! Later, I auditioned and joined as a contract player in 1998.

How long have you been playing music?
I started playing the bass when I was in sixth grade through the Washoe County School District’s fantastic music program. I was 11 years old, and my parents were horrified the first day they came to pick me up in a VW bug (no joke!), and I had a six-foot instrument in tow.

How did you pick your instrument?
In fifth grade, the students at my elementary school toured the nearby middle school to learn more about the strings, band, and choir programs. I’d already picked the flute because it was easy to carry, and its smaller relative, the piccolo, fit nicely in a pocket. But while touring the strings classroom, I saw a “huge violin” sitting forlornly on the floor. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Finally, I asked the teacher if I could pick up the “giant fiddle” and play it. She called it a “bass” and declared, “Only boys play this.” As the sole daughter in a family of boys, I couldn’t pass up a challenge like that!

I’m a freelance travel writer, but I also specialize more specifically in SEO and digital content marketing in the travel sphere. Two years ago, I made it official by starting my own digital content marketing company, Comstock Copywriting.

When you’re not playing with the Reno Phil, what would we most likely see you doing in your free time?
Because of my occupation, you’re most likely to catch me typing away on my laptop at a café or the airport.

What genre of music are you most excited to play?
I love music from the Romantic Period because that’s when genuinely meaty bass parts first emerged. Like the Romantic Period itself, Beethoven was the driving force. Of course, a little inspiration didn’t hurt. According to legend, this inspiration came in the form of Domenico Dragonetti — Europe’s first and most celebrated double bass virtuoso. Dragonetti performed one of Beethoven’s very own cello sonatas for him. Astounded by the feat, Beethoven never forgot what he learned that day about the bass’s potential. The result? Virtuosic passages like those found in his 5th and 9th symphonies.

What is your favorite piece of all time to play, and why?
Oh no! Few questions torture musicians quite like this one. Picking one, and only one, piece of music that’s your favorite is akin to choosing between your kids. In other words, it’s impossible. That said, if you want what comes to mind first, I can give you that: Brahms Symphony No. 4 in E minor. It’s moody, dark, complex, and passionate. And it includes the most uncompromising, pessimistic conclusion ever heard in a symphony up to that point. That ending’s the musical version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893), a terrifying contemplation on what the 20th century would hold, yet Brahms composed it nearly a decade prior in 1885.

If you could meet one composer/musician, who would it be and why?
I’ve actually already met him: Edgar Meyer. He’s done more to elevate the bass during his lifetime than just about anyone else. You could liken him to a 21st-century Dragonetti. I also love the fact that he’s such a versatile musician. From jazz to fiddling, he can do it all. Yet, he’s also one of the sweetest, most humble people you’ll ever meet.

What is your favorite vacation spot?
There’s no better place on earth than Greece in my book. The food’s amazing, the people are friendly, and I love Greece’s gorgeous beaches, islands, and seascapes. And as for archaeological ruins? Nothing compares!

What do you think the audience would find surprising about you?
When little league’s in full swing, I spend A LOT of time playing catch with my son and pitching Wiffle balls to him at the park. (My son’s developing a decent line drive, so I’m afraid to throw anything else his way!)

What about performing live music brings you joy?
Performing live music is like painting a vanishing masterpiece. It appears and disappears before you, never to be fully duplicated but always to be remembered.