The Robert Black Foundation Trust was created in 2017 from the combined estates of Ned and Frances Black and James Sellars. The purpose of the foundation is to offer support and assistance to the broader new music arts community.  The foundation was created to honor Robert Black’s parents, Ned and Frances Black, who died just a few weeks apart in January 2017, and his life-partner James Sellars, who died in February 2017. Mr. Black had a strong desire to return the support he received from his family and from this he created a non-profit organization that would be lasting tribute to his parents and companion.  The foundation operates a modest grant program to encourage the creation, performance, and execution of activities in the broader new music arts community and to support educational activities to this end.  The foundation consists of a governing board and one executive trustee.

Board of Directors

Robert Black

Trustee and Artistic Committee

Robert Black tours the world creating unheard of music for the solo double bass. He collaborates with the most adventurous composers, musicians, dancers, artists, actors, and technophiles from all walks of life. He has commissioned, collaborated, or performed with musicians from John Cage to D.J. Spooky, Elliott Carter to Meredith Monk, Cecil Taylor to young emerging composers, as well as the Brazilian painter Ige D'Aquino, Japanese choreographer Yoshiko Chuma, the American actor Kathryn Walker, the English sound artist/DJ, Mira Calix and Swiss-American film maker, Rudy Burckhardt.

Robert Black is a founding member of the Bang On A Can All-Stars and a new member of the chamber group, Cuatro Puntos. Additional chamber music activities include annual appearances at the Moab Music Festival and the Festival de Eleazar Carvalho in Fortaleza, Brazil.  Robert maintains a full teaching schedule at The Hartt School at the University of Hartford, the Festival Eleazar de Carvalho (Brazil), and the Manhattan School of Music’s Contemporary Performance Program. A recipient of numerous grants and awards, he recently received the Degree of Comendador - Mérito Cultural e Artistico from the Fundação Educacional, Cultural e Artistica Elezar de Carvalho in recognition of 25 years of distinguished contributions to the cultural and artistic life of Brazil.  He also received a Bessie Award for his collaborative work with Yoshiko Chuma and the School of Hard Knocks.

Current collaborative projects include a 10-channel audio/video double bass installation reflection on the Anthropocene with sound artists Brian House and Sue Huang, filmed at the Freshkills landfill in NYC,  and Blued Trees Project an out-door, environmental installation/performance for 24 double basses exploring the tension between ecocidal fossil fuel policies and the drive for the common good expressed in environmental justice movements for Earth rights with environmental artist Aviva Rahmani., composer Eve Beglarian, and choreographer Yoshiko Chuma.  Commissions include John Luther Adams (bass quartet), Marcel Zaes (bass trio), Natacha Diels (bass duet), and Daniel Sabzghabaei  (solo bass); Solo recordings include Philip Glass - Bass Partita and Poetry (Orange Mountain Muisc), the double CD Modern American Bass featuring mid-20th Century American bass repertoire (New World Records), The Complete Bass Music of Giacinto Scelsi (Mode Records), The Complete Bass Music of Christian Wolff (Mode Records), and State of the Bass (O.O. Discs). He has recorded 25 CDs with the Bang On A Can All Stars (Cantaloupe Music) and has also recorded for Sony Classical, Point/Polygram, Koch International, CRI, Opus One, Artifact Recordings, Folkways Records, and others.

Additionally, Robert is Trustee of the Robert Black Foundation Trust, judge emeritus of the International Society of Bassists’ biennial International Composition Competition, and adjudicates for the Concert Artists Guild Competition in New York City.

Gary Knoble

Artistic Committee  

Gary W. Knoble is a partner of Hog River Music and a consultant for insurance data management and professional education. He is a partner of the Insurance and Finance Professional Education Consulting (Beiijing) Co. Ltd . (Bao Rong), and a senior advisor of the US Asia Business and Financial Services group assisting them in providing educational services to the Chinese insurance industry.

Prior to his retirement in January 2006 he was a Vice President of the The Hartford Financial Services Group where he directed the Data Management Division of the Actuarial Department.

He is a past president of the Insurance Accounting and Systems Association (IASA). He is a founding member and past president of the Insurance Data Management Association and currently serves on the Board as Vice President of Professionalism. He is a member of the CAS Data Management Committee. He has served on the ACORD P&C Steering Committee, the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) Electronic Data Interchange Council and Associate Member Council, ISO’s Ad Hoc Data Reporting Group, and for many years chaired the Surety Association of America’s Statistical Committee.

He currently serves as a Visiting Professor at Nanjing Audit University and as an advisor to the Actuarial Alumni Association of the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei.

Gary is a recipient of several distinguished insurance industry awards includingthe IASA President’s award in 2002, an outstanding achievement award from the IAIABC in 2004, and a special award for creativity, diplomacy, fidelity and vision from the IDMA in 2005. In 2005, IDMA announced the creation of the Gary Knoble Award that will be given periodically to an individual who has made outstanding career contributions to the field of Data Management.

A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Gary is a graduate of Yale University with a major in International Political and Economic Institutions. He resides in Hartford, Connecticut.

His primary personal interests are music, art, literature, food, and wine. He is an avid listener of contemporary art music and reader of Brazilian and English literature. He collects 19th and 20th century paintings of Hartford, Connecticut painters. As a result of the interest piqued by his many trips to China, he is a student of the Chinese language, art, architecture, and garden design. He travels widely and spends at least one month out of each year in Brazil.

Robert Harberts

Artistic Committee

Bob Harberts is a devotee to creative, imaginative, and innovative ideas ranging from the theoretical frontiers of cosmological astrophysics to those found in contemporary music. He pursues a life-long love of learning and experiencing varied manifestations of ideas in art, science and culture where he lives in Washington DC.

Working at the Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt Maryland, Bob’s thirty-year professional career in NASA space systems engineering, science, and technological research spans development of the International Space Station, geosynchronous and polar orbiting environmental and weather satellite missions, earth observing satellite missions, and advanced concepts research for future space missions and digital science. His collaborative academic and multi-disciplined professional work affords Bob a unique perspective from which to recognize and foster the promise of the new and unfamiliar.