Principal Bassist of Symphony Nova Scotia since 1986, Max Kasper has gained quite a following over the past 20 years for the public education concerts/lectures he organizes and hosts at the Halifax Public Library.
As well as occasionally hosting Symphony In-School Concerts and narrating “Peter and the Wolf” too many times to count, he has acted as MC for many events in the community over the years and was one of the hosts for the Symphony’s “Musically Speaking” concerts. Of course his first passion is the double bass, which he began playing in the Toronto public school system at the age of ten. The rest just seemed to fall into place…
Max has appeared as a soloist with the orchestra on several occasions, and given many solo bass recitals over the years. He also loves playing chamber music, and has formed the Gatto Dolce Duo with cellist Colin Matthews. They released their first CD, Duets for Cello and Bass, in the spring of 2008, and are slowly working on the next one.
Max has a keen interest in period music; he plays in Halifax with Réjouissance and Tempest baroque ensembles, and plays as an extra with Tafelmusik on occasion.
Now pursuing a second career as a bow maker, Max has the unique distinction of playing on a bass and bows he has made himself. He lives in Halifax with his love, Esther Ricketts, and their three cats: Xena, Murray, and Finnegan. In his spare time he likes to watch TV, read, sleep, and feed the cats.
Max is currently serving a two-year term (until 2015) on Symphony Nova Scotia’s Board of Directors as Musician Representative.
Q&A with Max
How long have you played the bass?
I’ve played it since age 10.
Why did you start playing the bass?
I began playing it because I thought it was cool! (Hey, I was 10!)
If you couldn’t be a musician, what would you like to do?
Well, I like to think that I will always be a musician, even if I am not playing music. But If I could not play then I’d like to either be a bow-maker, or an electrician. I quite like that sort of thing.
What kinds of music do you enjoy listening to?
I rarely listen to classical music. It was a conscious decision of mine as a student. I figured that I’d be playing these pieces for the rest of my life, so to keep things fresh for me I left them alone. I like singer/songwriter stuff: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Sting, etc. I also like African music; particularly Salief Kieta as well as music from Zimbabwe. As with any musician, the problem is trying to keep the music collection from taking over the house. Every so often I have to “cull” the CDs, just to make room for new ones!
What’s your favourite food?
Chocolate and pizza (not necessarily together).
What’s the best thing that ever happened to you?
What people have been the greatest influence on you?
My parents are first on that list; but as a musician it would have to be my first private teacher: Boris Kersting. He really had a wonderful attitude toward music and life in general. It is because of him that I am a professional musician today, and because of him that I still enjoy it so much.