Kaden Henderson


Hometown: New Albany, IN

Alma maters: Indiana University, Yale University

Photo by Matt Dine


Appearances: Aspen Music Festival Fellow, 2013, 2015–16; Crested Butte Music Festival Fellow, 2018; Chelsea Music Festival Principal Bass 2018–19

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career? I realized I wanted to pursue an orchestral career after playing Beethoven’s 5th Symphony at a music festival when I was in middle school. It was the first time I realized how important the role of the double bass is in the orchestra and I’ve been absolutely obsessed ever since.

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century? I think we need to do more to attract a younger, more diverse audience. I think concerts should more accurately reflect the times we live in, from incorporating interesting new venues, lighting, repertoire, and visuals into the performance, as well as allowing a more casual listening experience. Classical music shouldn’t be walled off and put on a pedestal, this music should be  for all people of all backgrounds.

Who is your biggest inspiration? My musical influences come from many different sources. Edgar Meyer on the bass is one that sticks out because of how he has completely changed the world of bass playing. I also draw a lot of inspiration from lots of different musicians from Aphex Twin, Nicolas Jaar, and Thom Yorke to Miles Davis and Run the Jewels. Every type of music can influence how we approach our instrument and broaden our overall concept of musicality. If we limit ourselves to one genre of music, then we are truly missing out on some of the greatest music ever made.

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it? It’s too difficult to choose just one so I’ll say it’s a four-way tie between Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra, Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major, Radiohead’s In Rainbows, and Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician? Playing a rock show with the band My Morning Jacket to a sold-out, hometown crowd of 15,000+ in Louisville, Kentucky. They were my favorite band at the time and the rush of playing in front of that many people is something I’ll never forget.

Favorite non-classical musician or band: Radiohead, Run the Jewels, Nicolas Jaar, and lately I’ve been listening to a lot of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

If you could play another instrument, what would it be? I’d play the piccolo but I’d insist on flying with it in a double bass flight case.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing? I’d probably be a sound engineer or a luthier. Definitely something related to music in some capacity.

What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why? Lisbon, Portugal. The city, the food, the art, and the climate are just absolutely perfect. The city is so vibrant and the people have such a welcoming spirit, I instantly felt at home there.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us:I used to (very poorly) play keytar in a band.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician: Never stop wanting to get better and just be honest with yourself. A lot of musicians allow their egos to get in the way of their pursuit of knowledge and progress. Being honest with ourselves and staying open to new ideas and techniques is how we get better! If you play, practice, and perform music for the right reasons, you will be surprised with where it can take you!