Born in New York City and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Erik Harris began his musical studies on guitar at age five and switched to double bass at age 13. Harris attended the Juilliard School on a full scholarship, where he studied with noted double bass pedagogue Homer Mensch.
While at Juilliard he won the double bass concerto competition and performed as soloist with the Juilliard Symphony. He went on to receive both his bachelors and master’s degrees from Juilliard, and, in 2005, was recognized as one their 100 most notable alumni in honor of the school’s 100th anniversary. Upon graduation, Harris served as Principal Bass with the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida, during its inaugural season in 1988. The following year, at age 23, he was invited by Sir Georg Solti to join the Chicago Symphony.
In 1993, Harris was appointed Principal Double Bass of the St. Louis Symphony. Since coming to St. Louis, he has performed in chamber music concerts at Sheldon Hall, Innsbrook Institute, and at the Strings Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He has performed as soloist with the STL Symphony on numerous occasions, including giving the North American premiere of Tan Dun’s Double Bass Concerto: Wolf Totem, David Robertson conducting. An avid teacher, Harris has taught master classes at the Manhattan School of Music, New World Symphony, and the Juilliard School, and currently serves on the faculty of Webster University.
Erik Harris is married to STL Symphony Associate Concertmaster Heidi Harris, and they make their home in a secluded, wooded lot in South St. Louis County with their two wonderful children, Asher and Eden, and their dog, Pickles. In addition to playing the double bass, he also accompanies his wife on the guitar and the two perform as a duo as part of the Symphony’s Community Programs. In whatever spare time he has, Harris enjoys cooking, gardening, and home remodeling, and recently earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Erik Harris performs on a double bass made by Johannes Gagliano in 1804.