The Danish orchestra and the Australian double bass

Tetrafide give a family workshop and performance in Tom Price, WA

Touring musicians and their instruments can be a daunting prospect. Every day at Musica Viva we face new challenges, whether it be touring a percussion ensemble through the Pilbarra-Kimberley, as with Tetrafide‘s Musica Viva In Schools tour last year, touring a Latin-American group to Nepal, as with Tigramuna’s Musica Viva Export tour last year, or bringing period ensemble Concerto Copenhagen to Australia for a national tour this year.

Tigramuna performs in Nepal for Musica Viva Export

Some instruments, such as cellos, require their own seat on the plane to avoid being damaged in the hold. Other instruments require specially made travel cases that withstand the rigours of travel. But sometimes it’s just not possible or practical to bring a particular instrument from overseas. Such was the case with Concerto Copenhagen’s double bass. And so they turned to Australian luthier Benedict Puglisi, who not only makes instruments but hires them to musicians such as Concerto Copenhagen’s Nicholas Pap.

A cello onboard a flight

A lovely article appeared recently in The Age about one of Puglisi’s double basses which recently won an award in the International Society of Bassists Convention competition. Having been held up by US Customs, Puglisi believed his instrument had missed the deadline to enter the competition.

“The next day, Puglisi attended a packed concert of the award-winning instruments, devastated that his sourcing rare and superb maple wood, ageing it for 10 years, then working 65 hours a week for nine months to craft it had ended in farce. ‘Then [the judges] announced a unanimous decision that the bass be entered, and they give it the highest medal – a silver – for tone.’ (Gold is only awarded to instruments that win silver for both tone and craftsmanship.)

Benedict Puglisi working on an instrument. Photo: Jason South.

“‘It’s a big deal in the bass world because it’s a showcase event,’ says Steve Reeves, the principal double bassist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.”

Read the full article here.

The instrument Pap has hired for this Australian tour is a twin of the instrument that won gold in the International Society of Bassists Convention competition. While there are still challenges transporting the instrument around Australia we’re glad Pap has been able to secure such a quality instrument and the help of a dedicated maker (Puglisi personally adjusted the bridge on Pap’s arrival in Australia to make the bass sound more like a Baroque instrument) for this tour.


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About Musica Viva Australia

Welcome to Musica Viva’s International Concert Season blog. Here you can follow and read more about our wonderful touring artists.

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