Donovan Stokes


Bassist Donovan Stokes enjoys a varied career of performing, composing, writing and teaching. Stokes is currently Professor of classical and jazz bass at Shenandoah University-Conservatory where he teaches bass, coaches chamber music, directs the Bass Ensemble and acts as head of the String Area. He is a member of the board of directors for the International Society of Bassists, President Elect and Editor of the Bass Forum for the Virginia String Teachers Association, former member of the National Editorial Committee for American String Teachers Association and founder and Artistic Director of the non-profit Bass Coalition and their Annual Bass Workshop.

Although known for his use of amplification, EFX and loopers, his 2006 acoustic recording Gadaha garnered two JPF Music Award nominations and rankings, for Best Album and Best Instrumental Song. Described as a musician who “paints primary colours and subtle shades to considerable effect” (The Double Bassist), Stokes is also noted for his “eye-popping display of technical wizardry and showmanship” (Madison Jazz) who brings “the bass into yet another dimension of capabilities.” (Gary Karr). He also writes a bi-weekly column related to bass and performance

As a chamber musician he has had the honor of collaborating with wonderful musicians including the Fry Street Quartet, Agua Va!, members of the Audubon Quartet, Stuart Malina, Blanka Bednarz, Eriko Sato, John O’Connor , David Oui and Seymour Lipkin. As a composer he has enjoyed recent commissions from Barry GreenBlanka BednarzThe International Society of Bassists Young Bass Division, the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra and Jerry Fuller, among others. He offers a range of online instruction in upright bass, alternative strings, chamber music and composition and has created an Upright Slap Bass Instructional Video available exclusively online. He also plays Jazz, Gypsy Jazz and Americana styles, having appeared with the Four Star Combo, members of The Woodshedders and the Greg Ruby Quartet, among others.

Dr. Stokes earned degrees from Vanderbilt University (B.M.) and Indiana University in Bloomington (M.M. and D.M.), where his major bass instructors were Lawrence Hurst, and Edgar Meyer. He studied fiddle styles with Crystal Ploughman and Mark O’Connor, string pedagogy with Lawrence Hurst, Helga Winold, Inez Wyrick and Mimi Zweig, and composition with Michael Alec Rose, Michael Kurek and Mary Jeanne Van Appledorn. He is also the world’s leading expert in the life and work of bassist Rodion Azarkhin.