Riley Zimmermann is the current Acting Principal Bass of the Richmond Symphony. He is a native of Dillsburg, PA, and did his schooling in Pittsburgh, PA. Riley holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Duquesne University and a master’s degree in Double Bass Performance from Carnegie Mellon University. His principal teachers include Micah Howard, Jeff Mangone, Aaron White, Peter Guild, Duane Botterbusch, and the entire Pittsburgh Symphony bass section.
As a freelance bassist, Riley played with many orchestras including the Cincinnati Symphony, Sarasota Opera, New World Symphony, Canton Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, and the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh. In 2019 he won 1st place in the Orchestral Division competition at the International Society of Bassists convention in Bloomington, IN. That same year Riley attended the Wabass Institute, a full scholarship intensive whose faculty includes Hal Robinson, Ranaan Meyer, and Eric Larson. No stranger to other styles of music, Riley spent much of his 20s playing with touring bands, including Celtic band The Town Pants, and bluegrass bands the Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers and the Shelf Life String Band. He also co-founded the double bass duo Contraduo with his wife, Emily Tarantino. Together they play original arrangements and compositions across western Pennsylvania. In addition to their performances, they have conducted workshops as a duo. Riley has performed in masterclasses for musicians such as Edgar Meyer, Francois Rabbath, and Joseph Conyers.
Before joining the Richmond Symphony, Riley held a busy teaching schedule in the Pittsburgh area. While maintaining a private studio of bassists, he taught elementary orchestra in the North Allegheny School District. Riley served as interim bass faculty at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. Some of his favorite teaching, however, has been working with students and faculty at Bass Works, a double bass camp based in Baltimore, MD. Currently serving on the faculty, Riley has worked with Bass Works since 2019. He has also worked with the Young Bassists Program of the International Society of Bassists.
When not playing in the orchestra Riley enjoys many hobbies including attending live shows, cooking, learning fiddle tunes, and watching terrible reality shows with his wife. He is married to bassist Emily Tarantino, who is an associate musician in the Columbus Symphony and Assistant Principal Bass of the Westmoreland Symphony. Together they have two cats, Matilda and Rusalka.