You started out as a cellist – what prompted you to take up double bass?
Far fewer notes, and they’re cheaper too!
From before I became serious about the cello, I was always seduced by the lowest sounds of whatever music I was listening to – whether it was a rock gig, pipe organ, brass band, or a recorder ensemble – so it was only a matter of time before I was smitten by the double bass.

What motivates you? Why do you want to be a musician?
I think I get most of my motivation from other people. I get very excited for example when I see someone give a phenomenal concert, and so then I rush into the practise room and try and figure out what they did.
I’m very glad that I have found something to be particularly passionate about. I’ve found that no matter what profession you choose to pursue, if you love it, you will never really quite be satisfied with where you are, because you always find yourself realising how much farther away the horizon is.

What has been your most enjoyable experience at ANAM this year? Has it been what you’ve expected?
Most recently Howard Penny did a play/direct project. I was blown away by how organised he was with the rehearsals, and I thoroughly enjoyed the concerts as a result. It’s truly inspiring to see a teacher take such extraordinary care in sharing his knowledge with us kids.

How do things like the ANAM Concerto Competition benefit you as a musician? What do you get out of the experience (or hope to get out of it)?
I’m actually still reeling from the fact that I got through to the finals again! I can’t wait to be able to play another concerto with that group. The things I learnt from last year’s experience were invaluable.

How are you going to prepare for the Concerto Competition final with TSO?
Just practise. And practise.

Tell us a little bit about studying with ANAM’s Head of Double Bass, Damien Eckersley.
Damien is the most generous and kind teacher anyone could ask for – and there is no question that without his guidance I would not be answering these questions. Even though he never says anything negative about my playing during lessons, I always feel obligated to play the best I can for him, just out of sheer respect.
I’m not sure I could name a genuinely cooler guy than Damo!

If you had to describe the double bass to someone who had never heard of it, what would you say?
It’s a big guitar, and yes actually sometimes I do wish I played the violin.

Three words to describe the Vanhal Concerto for Double Bass?
Not quite Tchaikovsky.

Alex Arai-Swale (NZ, double bass) along with Josephine Chung (NSW, violin) and Magdalenna Krstevska (VIC, clarinet) are the three ANAM Concerto Competition finalists to perform with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO) under conductor Johannes Fritzsch.


NIELSEN Clarinet Concerto, op. 57 
VANHAL Concerto for Double Bass in D 
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D, op. 35

Johannes Fritzsch conductor
Alexander Arai-Swale (NZ)
 double bass
Josephine Chung (NSW) violin
Magdalenna Krstevska (VIC) clarinet 
Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

Venue Federation Concert Hall / 1 Davey St, Hobart, TASMANIA
Bookings tso.com.au / 1800 001 190


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