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?
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?
PM: My 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.
PM: Recently 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?
PM: Yesterday 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?
PM: If 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.
TM: What is your favourite place in the world?
PM: I 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?
PM: Most 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!
TM: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
PM: Probably 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?
PM: I’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?
PM: Take 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.