At just 23, Phoebe Russell is considered one of the world’s most exciting double bass players. She could be playing in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Yet in April last year the Melbourne -born musician applied for, then accepted the position of Principal Double Bassist with Queensland Symphony Orchestra- 15,600 kilometres away from her newly adopted home of Berlin. She Society had to investigate this talented musician’s story.
Why the move to Queensland?
There were two reasons for Phoebe’s application. Firstly she was proud to call Australia home and was committed to making music in her own country. Secondly she had been told by her old music teacher in Australia that the Queensland Symphony Orchestra was now being led by the exciting Alondra de la Parra, an inspiring and passionate musical leader and someone who Phoebe was fully aware of. Phoebe wanted to play under the conductor who was taking the world by storm and with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra who were increasingly becoming an orchestra to watch.
About Phoebe Russell
Phoebe was only seventeen when she settled in Berlin and within months made her debut in the Berlin Philharmonic. Since then she has performed in more than twenty countries with leading orchestras including Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra. She has worked with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim and Zubin Mehta.
Her early career highlights include being named as an ‘ Emerging Artist’ with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and being a soloist in the ‘ Wilma and Friends ‘series run by Wilma Smith. She then won the prestigious scholarship to the Berlin Philharmonic’s Karajan Orchestra Academy from 2013 -2015.
The Girl with the Lionhead Bass
Not only did Phoebe Russell join the Queensland Orchestra as Principal Double Bassist; she also inherited an iconic and much revered instrument – the famous Lionhead Double Bass which has been in the orchestra since the 1950’s. She becomes the third generation Queensland Symphony Orchestra musician to play this incredible instrument which also came from Berlin and was built in the 1800’s to early 1900’s by Kaakstein. Phoebe is proud to play this heritage member of the orchestra.
Life and Love
With all these accomplishments , at such a young age, you could be forgiven for thinking that Phoebe would have no time for anything else in her life. Yet Phoebe also has her own unique love story which , of course, involves a double bass.
Phoebe was at Euston Station in London waiting for a train when she had a chance meeting with Colombian- Bernardo Alviz, a fellow musician. Both were travelling to the same place and both were carrying a double bass. The rest as they say, is history!
Back home in Australia Phoebe is enjoying another new romance with her brand new Cavalier puppy. In Berlin she could never have a dog so this is one of the things she enjoys most about coming home to Australia. Phoebe loves walking along the river with her puppy…. and her husband and finds it very relaxing on these balmy Brisbane evenings.
To see Phoebe and her big, beautiful Lionhead Bass head along to QPAC to one of the many Queensland Symphony Orchestra concerts this season. She won’t be hard to spot ….. just watch out for the lion.