Born in New York City and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Erik Harris began his musical studies on guitar at age 5 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 bachelor’s 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, Fla. during its inaugural season in 1988. The following year, at age 23, Harris was invited by Sir Georg Solti to join the Chicago Symphony.
In 1993, Harris was appointed Principal Double Bass of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra by Music Director Leonard Slatkin. As soloist, he performed the Vanhal Bass Concerto with the SLSO in 2011 with Nicholas McGegan conducting and, in 2015 he gave the American premiere of Tan Dun’s Concerto for Contrabass and Orchestra “The Wolf” with Music Director David Robertson conducting. Harris regularly performs in chamber music groups throughout the St. Louis region and has performed at the Missouri Chamber Music Festival, the Innsbrook Festival, the Missouri River Festival of the Arts, and with the Arianna String Quartet. An avid teacher, he 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.
In whatever spare time he has, Harris enjoys cooking, gardening, and home remodeling, and recently earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
He performs on a double bass made by Johannes Gagliano in 1804.