Shinji Eshima

Associate Principal Contrabass

Shinji Eshima


Shinji Eshima was born in Berkeley, CA, and is a graduate of Stanford University and The Juilliard School. He is a double bassist for San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Eshima is on the faculty at San Francisco State University and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His instrument is the Plumerel bass (1843) featured in the painting The Orchestra of the Opera by Edgar Degas.

As a composer, Eshima studied with Heinrich Taube. His music has been commissioned and performed around the world by such artists as Christine Brandes, Sally Munro, Steven Dibner, Carey Bell, Emil Miland, Rufus Olivier, Gary Karr, Frank Proto, Adesso, and the Grammy-nominated The Bay Brass.

In 2011, San Francisco Ballet commissioned him to compose the music for choreographer Yuri Possokhov’s RAkU. The ballet was recorded by San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Martin West at the famed Skywalker recording studio, and released on both CD and iTunes. In 2014 RAkU was added to the repertoire of The Joffrey Ballet.

As a result of his collaboration with chanters in RAkU, San Francisco Zen Center asked Eshima to compose a new work for their 50th anniversary in 2012. The result was All’s Farrow composed for a new bell sculpted of bullets by the artist Al Farrow and choreographed by Pascal Molat. This bell now resides in the center courtyard of San Francisco Zen Center waiting to be struck on the day the last bullet is made in the world.

His second ballet with Yuri Possokhov Il Fazzoletto saw Eshima collaborate with the writer Jerome Oremland and artist Andrew Mezvinky. His third original commission for cellist Thalia Moore incorporated four recorded songs by Tom Waits for Possokov’s Swimmer, which premiered in 2015.

In 2011, the city of Berkeley, California named the day December 6th Shinji Eshima Day, in honor of his contributions to the arts.

He currently lives in Mill Valley with his wife, The George Balanchine Foundation répétiteur Sandy Jennings Eshima, and their prized Meyer lemon tree.