Montreal Symphony debuts its new octobass

Posted on: October 21, 2016

The Montreal Symphony Orchestra has a new instrument, “one that will be hard to miss,” writes Marilla Steuter-Martin on Tuesday (10/18) at Canada’s CBC News. The orchestra’s octobass “measures 3.6 metres and weighs 131 kilos. The Montreal Symphony Orchestra has the distinction of being the only orchestra in the world in possession of one. Bassist Eric Chappell is five feet 11 inches tall and can’t even reach the top of the instrument.” It debuts at the orchestra’s October 20-23 concerts featuring Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and a world premiere by José Evangelista celebrating the 50th anniversary of Montreal’s Metro. “ ‘It’s essentially a double bass but on steroids,’ … said Chappell.… ‘We can go … down to the lowest note on a piano, so, quite a bit lower than a double bass and actually lower than the tuba and the contrabassoon.’ The instrument was invented in 1849 by luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in France.… ‘There were three originals that were made in France back around 1850, and only one of them survived intact,’ he said. ‘It’s in a museum in Paris, so this instrument was copied by a modern luthier.’ ” A video shows the instrument being played by Chappell.

Posted October 21, 2016

Pictured: Members of the Montreal Symphony’s double bass section, with the new octobass