Lyric Opera of Chicago

Orchestra Profiles: Bassist Gregory Sarchet

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Bassist Gregory Sarchet grew up in northwest Indiana and has been a member of the Lyric Orchestra since 1986. He attended both UCLA and The Juilliard School, and he’s taught bass at Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University, Columbia College, and the Chicago Center for Performing Arts of Roosevelt University. Currently he’s on the staffs of Northeastern Illinois and North Park Universities. 

His ongoing international exchange efforts were recognized by a 1996 Chicago Artists International Program award (CAIP), which sent him to the Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria for performances, master classes, and archival research. He lives in a classic Chicago bungalow on Chicago's north side with his wife and two sons. 

Why did you choose to play bass? 
When I was 12 years old, my best friend played a 45 rpm record of the Beatles' “Lady Madonna,” isolating the bass and drum tracks using the stereo channels. After hearing it, I said, “That is what I am going to do!” It was a watershed moment. 

What was the single most defining moment of your career?  
My professional life has been a series of defining moments, but an early one that comes to mind was meeting a musician named Jim Skafish when I was 14. Playing in his controversial new wave/punk band was my first experience performing in what was essentially a rock-and-roll chamber-music ensemble. Working with Jim was like working with an incredibly talented and highly demanding conductor, and I found that I grew tremendously as a musician in that environment. 

When you’re not in the opera house, what do you like to do?  
Teach, cook, and shop estate sales.  

What’s your favorite opera? 
To watch and listen to, it’s: Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. I find it a transcendent and existential experience. I don't have a favorite opera to play. To be an opera musician is to embrace the entire repertoire. Most of us find something redeeming in every piece of music we perform. 

What’s your favorite restaurant? 
Hackney’s, because of many sentimental family memories spanning decades, and their comfort food. And my favorite food is anything home-cooked. 

If you weren’t a musician, you’d be…?
An archaeologist. 

Who’s the musician you admire most? 
Joe Vito. Aside from being a natural born musician, he had an infectiously positive personality that came through in every note he played and in every interaction I had with him. 

What’s an opera you’ve never played but would like to?  
Les Huguenots (Meyerbeer). It would be a professional and personal milestone. 

If you had it to do over again what would you do differently?  
I’d have earned a PhD in double bass. I would have been forced to learn a lot more about the double bass quicker than I have otherwise. 



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