Douglas Sommer, bass
June 18, 1959 — February 27, 2014
We are deeply saddened to say goodbye to a talented artist, inspiring teacher, and true friend. Following a courageous battle with cancer, bassist Douglas Sommer passed away this week.
Doug was a part of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) family for 25 years —since 1989— and will be greatly missed. We will honor Doug’s memory during the concerts on March 13, 15, and 16 when Music Director Robert Spano and Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles are both with the Orchestra.
With an inspiring commitment to education, Doug served as a longtime faculty member in the Atlanta Symphony’s Talent Development Program, and also was the program’s faculty lead for a year. In addition, he coached students in the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, was a mentor in the annual Side-by-Side program, and performed in schools and communities around Atlanta through the ASO’s Musicians in Schools/Musicians in Communities programs.
Also an active chamber musician, Doug performed with the Atlanta Virtuosi, Atlanta Winds, Lyra String Quartet, Emory Chamber Players, Kennesaw State University Chamber Players, and Atlanta Chamber Players, and participated in the Pensacola Chamber Music Festival. Additionally, he often performed at the Highland Chamber Music Festival and with the Alexander Quartet, and was a member of the Riverside Chamber Players.
Doug enjoyed playing all styles of music and had the opportunity to play double bass and electric bass with many artists including George Benson, Clay Aiken, Michael Feinstein, and Mercedes Ellington. An active recording musician, he performed on albums with R.E.M., Shawn Mullins, and Kelly Price. Doug also recorded commercials for Delta, Hallmark, and Cartoon Network, among others. Before joining the ASO, he was a member of the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony.
A California native, Doug studied double bass at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and went on to receive his master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Lawrence Wolfe. He played at the Spoleto Festival, was a fellow at the Tanglewood Institute, and participated in the Grand Teton Music Festival. Doug was also a member of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in Sun Valley, ID.
Doug was on the faculty at Kennesaw State University and was often a sought-after clinician at schools and universities throughout the Southeast. He formerly served as a board member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and as a past president of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Association.
Doug is survived by his wife, Phyllis, their children, Grace and Andrew, and his twin sister, Donna, and his brother, Rich. His impact will endure for years to come.
The world lost an amazing person today. RIP to Mr. Sommer, a talented musician and a high school friend’s father.