Meet The Master Of Poker And Bass

Renaissance man Alex Albanese has a poker face. Literally. A man of many talents and deeply rooted in the growth and success of the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra since joining waaaaay back in 1982, Alex claims professional poker playing, as well as bass playing, as one of his many charms. Others include being an avid reader of histories, biographies, mysteries, cycling, doting on his cat Alexa—“it seems my cat needs me out of the house from time to time. What’s she up to?”—and honing his dry and spot-on sense of humor.

With 38 seasons’ worth of concerts in hand, a late 80’s performance of Mahler 1 still resonates. After staff and personnel came together to elevate the quality of the growing orchestra, “the concert was transformational and many of us felt we had arrived as a fine professional orchestra. Some of us stayed up all night basking in what we’d achieved.” And playing poker, perhaps?

Alex, who also serves as operations manager of both the SWFLSO and our Youth Orchestra, gamely lives with Leonore, his 100+ year old German bass, likely made by Gemünder. During a shopping center gig, Alex encountered lady luck in the form of an elderly retired bass player interested in selling his instrument. Alex followed him home and was dealt a winning hand.

“She had a crack in the side and the strings were ancient. I took the top string off my bass and put it on the Gemünder and the core of the sound blew me away. I was back three days later with the purchase price and put a whole set of strings on and played it for near an hour. He also gave me a huge stack of music and a nice bow.”

“I think I paid the same price he had paid decades before just because he liked how I played!”

She’s laid up right now after being damaged and I’m working to raise the money to take her to Cincinnati and get her repaired/restored,” says Alex, also a gifted storyteller.

Until recently, Alex’s days were flush with the logistics, arranging, transporting, set up, and break down for two orchestras, on top of rehearsing and performing as a bassist throughout southwest Florida. Now odds are good you might face him while renting bikes at Lakes Park. But don’t try your hand at cards with this ace. Well-played, Alex! Look forward to Alex and the mastery of the Southwest Florida Symphony in Season 59 1/2.

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