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Maxime Bibeau, Double Bass

Maxime Bibeau never intended to play classical music. As a teenager in Québec, he was interested in a career in science, until he started listening to jazz and became intrigued by the sound of the bass guitar and the experimentation that jazz musicians were doing with the instrument at the time. However when he picked up the double bass, at the age of seventeen, he realised that he had to learn classical bass first, and found himself so captivated that he never moved on to jazz.

Maxime went on to study at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec in Montréal, and obtained a Masters of Music from Rice University in Houston. It was while he was living in the USA that he first heard the ACO play in New York, the night before his audition. The performance was, he says, “a revelation”. Until joining the Orchestra in 1998, Maxime had never imagined that his regular reading of string quartet music with friends would become a natural progression to playing in an orchestra with just one double bass, but a huge range of repertoire. He loves how much difference his playing in these circumstances can make to the sound as a whole. Maxime is interested in pushing the boundaries of what the double bass can be and do, and in exploring its important and active role; he considers this a means of keeping the instrument ‘alive’.

Maxime’s instrument is the oldest of the ACO’s collection, dating from 1585 and on loan from a private Australian benefactor. It was made by Gasparo da Salò in Brecia Northern Italy and is believed to have resided for several centuries in a single abbey, the Neustift Monastery, where it survived bombing in World War II. Maxime has nicknamed the instrument ‘Sophia’ for its generous hips, heritage, sheer presence and rich and luscious sound.

Maxime also helps the ACO produce many of its commercial recordings and loves the hands-on nature of the company. He plans to finally learn how to play jazz after he retires.

His Chair is sponsored by the Darin Cooper Foundation.