12 Oct 2015

Utah Symphony Gear Review


Meet Vincenzo Panormo, the 225 year old bass and his proud owner, Jamie Allyn. Often referred to as the “Stradivarius of the bass”, Panormo is considered to be the best of the best when it comes to bass making. Born in in Italy, Panormo spent most of his career in London during the turn of the 18th century and is classified as an English maker. Panormo only made about twenty basses and when a dealer brought one back from London Jamie caught a flight to Montreal to purchase the instrument in 1983.  At that point the bass was in dire condition and still had gut strings on it (used by musicians before the invention of steel strings). Jamie then took the bass down Robertson and Sons Violin Shop in Albuquerque for restoration.


Why go to so much trouble for a bass? This instrument truly is a work of art. The sound is what Panormos are famous for. Other musicians in the Utah Symphony have described the tone as “dark, enveloping and chocolaty”. Jamie was seduced by the composition of the sound. The bass has a pure fundamental tone (imagine tuning all the static out of a radio frequency).  Jamie knew from the moment he played it that it was the one for him.

Panormo lived in several European countries before settling in London. Some of his best violins are made from the wood of a billiards table he purchased in Dublin. Most of his basses were commissioned by Domenico Dragonnetti, a famous virtuoso also living in London at the time. If you peak into the f-holes on the front of the bass you can spy the maker’s label with an address: Portland Street, Soho, London.

Originally from Los Angeles, Jamie Allyn has been in the orchestra since 1978.  The Utah Symphony is proud to have such a fine player with exquisite taste in instruments among its ranks.  You can hear Jamie and his Panormo most weekends at Abravanel Hall.

By Nathan Lutz