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Bassist lays down a top score

Colonie’s Tristen Jarvis follows a passion for music

Tristen Jarvis was the only student from the South Colonie School District invited to play at the NYSSMA All-State Music Festival in Rochester this past November.

Tristen Jarvis was the only student from the South Colonie School District invited to play at the NYSSMA All-State Music Festival in Rochester this past November. Photo by Zan Strumfeld.

— With all he’s accomplished, 16-year-old Tristen Jarvis is all too modest.

The Colonie High School student has a 97 GPA, but more important to him, he plays the double bass in the Empire State Youth Orchestra; his school’s Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Band; the Empire State Youth Jazz Ensemble; three side band projects; and he sings in Chamber Singers, to name just a few musical projects. And with everything he’s doing, he said he “feels bad” he doesn’t have enough time to work on composing.

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Tristen Jarvis

“Why wouldn’t you want to practice? That’s all I want to do. Just play all day,” Jarvis said.

And you know what they say about practicing.

After performing two movements of the Sonata for String Bass by Henric Eccles at the New York State School of Music Association in April, Jarvis received a perfect score of 100 on a Level Six piece, the highest level of difficulty for the competition. Because of his score, Jarvis was the only student from the South Colonie School District invited to play at the NYSSMA All-State Music Festival in Rochester this past November. Joining hundreds of students from all over the state, Jarvis played the string bass with the All-State Symphony Orchestra. Under the direction of Kenneth Kiesler from the University of Michigan, Jarvis became assistant principal for the 12 bassists in his orchestra, technically making him the second best student bassist in the state.

This role didn’t go to Jarvis’s head, though.

“It should just be you’re ahead of these people so you can lead better. Doing justice to the music,” he said.

Jarvis attributed much of his success to his school and to private lessons.

Through the South Colonie School District, students can pick a string instrument to play at the end of third grade. Jarvis picked the double bass, and hasn’t stopped playing since fourth grade. He had been participating in sports, but wanted to make music his sole priority.

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