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 where he was awarded a full university scholarship, as well as grants from the Canada Arts Council and the Canadian Research Assistance Fund.
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. When he isn’t collecting frequent flyer points, Maxime enjoys his downtime swimming in the ocean with his young twin boys, Luc and Rémy.
His Chair is sponsored by the Darin Cooper Foundation.
Studied at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec in Montréal with René Gosselin, and Rice University in Houston with Timothy Pitts and Paul Ellison.
Maxime has performed in several orchestras and festivals in Australia and abroad including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, WDR Orchestra and Swedish Radio Orchestra.
As a young musician Maxime participated in programs such as the Domaine Forget, Orford Music Festival, Music Academy of the West, SHIRA Orchestra, Waterloo Festival and World Youth Orchestra.
As an educator Maxime has been involved with the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp, Sydney Youth Orchestra, University of NSW, Tokyo University of the Arts, Australian National Academy of Music and was also a lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music for nearly a decade.
Maxime was featured as a soloist with the ACO in the world premieres of Missy Mazzoli’s Dark with Excessive Bright Double Bass Concerto, James Ledger's Folk Song, Matthew Hindson's Crime and Punishment, Elena Kats-Chernin’s Singing Trees and Joe Chindamo’s Five Revelations for double bass and strings.
He was also featured in performances of Giovanni Bottesini’s Gran Duo Concertante, Piazzola’s Kicho, Contrabajissimo and Contrabajeando, Frank Proto’s Sonata 1963 and Mozart’s Per questa bella mano with Teddy Tahu Rhodes.
1585 Da Salo Bass
Learn about Maxime's instrument, a towering double bass with an extraordinary history that spans over 400 years.