Born in Kansas and raised in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Brant Bayless came to Utah after completing his studies in New York City. After early piano lessons and singing in his father’s various church choirs, Brant started the viola at age 12. Winning the Governor’s Scholarship to Interlochen Arts Camp in 1992 gave him his first glimpse of the musical world outside Oklahoma. After two years at the University of Kansas studying with Michael Kimber, Brant found his way to New York. Invited to study on scholarship with Pinchas Zukerman and Patinka Kopec at the Manhattan School of Music, Brant finished his bachelor’s degree in 1997.
Brant joined the Utah Symphony in 2001. With the Utah Symphony he has made regular concerto and concertante appearances: in February 2019 in Bach’s Sixth Brandenburg concerto with Roberta Zalkind; in May 2018 with Music Director Thierry Fischer and cellist Rainer Eudeikis in Strauss’s “Don Quixote”; in March 2012 with conductor Jun Märkl in Takemitsu’s “A String Around Autumn”; in August 2010 with conductor David Lockington in Bruch’s “Romance” and von Weber’s “Andante and Rondo Ungarese”; and multiple performances of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with violinists Viviane Hagner, Kathryn Eberle, and Ralph Matson.
Brant performs on most of Salt Lake City’s stages in ensembles large and small and is especially proud of his association with the NOVA Chamber Music Series. With NOVA he has presented solo works from Bach to Berio and given first performances of important new works—including a chamber concerto written for Brant and pianist Jason Hardink by composer Bruce Quaglia.
Outside of Utah he has appeared as guest principal viola of the St. Louis Symphony with their Music Director David Robertson. Brant has performed as a regular guest and substitute violist with the Muir and Fry Street string quartets. During summers he plays at the Grand Teton Music Festival. Brant’s chamber music performances from GTMF have been featured on NPR’s Performance Today. At the GTMF he formed the Teton Trio with Dallas Symphony Principal Clarinetist Greg Raden and Jason Hardink. Their first CD will soon be released on the Centaur label. Brant is also principal violist of the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego.
Brant started his career while still at the Manhattan School as the violist of the Arcata String Quartet. His performances with the Arcata were heard throughout the US and Europe, including concerts at New York’s Town Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie and London’s famed Wigmore Hall. The Arcata’s Beethoven Cycle at Wave Hill, the Bronx estate of Arturo Toscanini, and their many recordings, some of which are available still, continue to be memorable highlights. In 1998, the Arcata inaugurated a residency at Utah State University, a position that they held for three years.
His viola is attributed to the Milanese maker Luigi Bajoni from 1858. Having fallen in love with the mountains and deserts of Utah, he spends as much time as possible hiking, cycling, and seeking out backcountry ski descents. Brant is married to the cellist Anne Francis Bayless, and they have a young son.