In our fourth edition of our Alumni Spotlight series, we caught up with double bassist Malcolm Armstrong. A three-time member of the NYO between 2012-14, Malcolm has kept busy by taking part in programs by the Canadian Opera Company, finished his studies at the University of Ottawa, and secured a position performing with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra.
Malcolm recently took the time to speak with us about how his memories performing with the NYO, studying with the COC, and the King of Rock n Roll.
1. When and how did you first get involved with music?
My father is a musician and got me into taking piano lessons through grade school. My piano lessons weren't your standard play some scales and do studies piano lessons; for my teacher and I it was all about having fun. We'd listen to CD's of the king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley, and while doing that we would write out the chord charts to be able to play along. When I got to grade seven the school finally had a band and of course it was time for me to choose an instrument. I had always wanted to play trombone, as my father is a trombone player, but due to a recent appendectomy breathing heavily was out of the question. So the band director said "we have a bass in the back" and I instantly fell in love with it.
2. What are some of your memories of playing with the NYO?
There are so many wonderful memories from NYO. First of all I met some of my closest friends at NYO and will be friends for life with these people. The bass section had a frisbee game that we would play. Eventually enough people joined in and we had more than half of the orchestra playing! The amount of camaraderie and kindness made it unforgettable.
4. Along with recently joining the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, what are some of the other things you’ve done onstage that you are most proud of?
5. Based on your experience, what are some valuable tips you could give future NYO members?
When I decided to take the Hawaii Symphony audition, first of all I really wanted an excuse to go to Hawaii.. then once I passed the first round, I knew that I had done the preparation and I had enough personality to stand out in the final round. So I said to myself "this job is mine".