Sep 15, 2019

Get to know Pippa Macmillan, double bass

We are thrilled to welcome Pippa Macmillan for her first season as a member of Tafelmusik’s core orchestra. We sat down with her to learn a bit more about her inspirations, musical favourites, and greatest achievement.

Tafelmusik: When did you first start playing the double bass?

Pippa Macmillan: I started playing double bass when I was 10, though I already played the piano and the cello. Lessons were offered at my school and I persuaded my parents to let me learn!

TM: Describe your first music gig.

PM: My first piano concert would probably have been when I was still three—I don’t have any memory of that sadly. On bass, my first experience of the instrument was going along to a double bass day organised by the local music agency, and playing along with 50 other people playing the bass, both complete beginners and professionals. 

TM: Who has been your greatest inspiration?

PMMy greatest inspiration has been my first historical bass teacher, Chi-chi Nwanoku. She shapes bass lines in an incredibly inspiring way, bringing life to absolutely everything. The activity in her bow arm is always phenomenal!

TM: What is your favourite music to listen to? It doesn’t have to be classical.

PMRecently I’ve been enjoying a crossover of classical and bluegrass music, with Yo-Yo Ma, legendary bass player Edgar Meyer, and violinist Mark O’Connor

TM: What are the last 3 songs/pieces you’ve listened to?

PMYesterday I listened to a new recording of Max Richter’s Four Seasons Recomposed recorded by Covent Garden Sinfonia, The Great Australian Songbook which my four-year-old loves, and Suzuki violin pieces played on the instruments they were written for, for my daughter’s benefit. 

TM: What is your favourite thing to do during your free time?

PMIf I can make time for it, I love going to Iyengar yoga. I’m only a beginner but I find it a transformative experience to go to a class. 

TMWhat is your favourite place in the world?

PMI studied for two years in New York and met my partner there, so a part of my heart will always reside in that city. Many wonderful memories were created there, and I love going back there on tour. 

TM: What is your most treasured possession?

PMMost treasured possession is probably my Italian double bass... also the most awkward to transport to Toronto when I move, as I’ve always avoided flying with it! 

TMWhat do you consider your greatest achievement?

PMProbably hiking in Yosemite despite having no experience, and making it up the Half Dome as the sun rose. 

TM: Which composer/artist/hero, living or not, would you like to sit next to at a dinner party, and why?

PMI’d love to sit next to Haydn and ask him to re-write the bass concerto that was lost in a fire. For a less nerdy answer, I’d love to hang out with Edward Lear because he covered such a wide range of skills—drawing, painting, composing, writing. 

TM: What words of wisdom would you pass on to budding musicians?

PMTake every opportunity that’s offered to you, join every group you can, get as much experience as you can, and always be a good colleague—be reliable, work as a team, be kind and generous. 

Pippa Macmillan
double bass