Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ross Macintosh: From pipe bands to Yo-Yo Ma to U2 to Mozart and Bach

Thank you to Talent Trust recipient Ross Macintosh for taking the time to share reflections on his music with us.

Instagram: @ross.macintosh


What does receiving a Talent Trust scholarship mean to you?

The support of the Talent Trust has meant lot to me, in many different ways. It has helped me with my university education,  private lessons, and summer programs, and has given me opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. This year in particular, it has helped me get some of the equipment necessary to study online and to enter national and international competitions, and also gave me the opportunity to study with a euphonium soloist who I truly admire, which was absolutely invaluable.

What are your earliest memories of your art?

Music was always a pretty constant thing in my house. My parents are both musicians and music lovers, so I was exposed to a wide variety of music ranging from Pipe Bands to Yo-Yo Ma to U2. I also remember having CDs of Mozart and Bach keyboard music as white noise in my bedroom for most of my childhood. In terms of brass instruments, my first memory is playing a CD my dad had of the Empire Brass Quintet playing arrangements of Medieval music (particularly that of Hildegard von Bingen), as well as my aunt and uncle visiting from Edmonton, where they are professional musicians (trombone and tuba, respectively). 

What quote best describes your commitment to your art? Why?

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”- Thomas Edison 

There are of course quotes that could describe it from an artistic perspective, but this shows an attitude that I feel is essential to a career in a field as unforgiving as music. This feeling was certainly compounded by some of my work experiences, and I know that it has had a huge impact on everything that I do. 

Are there any unexpected positives that have come out of pandemic related to your art?

Yes! The shift to online learning across the world has created a lot of opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. In the first month of Nova Scotia being locked down I was able to have online lessons with Steven Mead and David Thornton (fantastic professors from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester), and of course with the support of the NSTT I was able to have a series of online lessons with one of my heroes, Glenn Van Looy, in Switzerland.  None of this would have been possible in a normal year. I have also felt very fortunate to be here in Nova Scotia during this time, as I have spent the past four months as a Resident Young Artist at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance. This has allowed me to keep performing throughout most of this time, and to be hearing and learning from some other fantastic young musicians. 

What has been your greatest challenge in relation to your art? Why?

I have probably had more challenges than you’d expect from somebody at this stage of their career.  The main one was an injury I received almost four years ago now; I couldn’t play my instrument for about four months, and it took nearly three years before I felt like I had recovered fully.  On a different level, I think I face the same challenge that almost every artist does in terms of finding their place in the world. But, I read Michael Phelps’ autobiography last year and have found one motto of his very helpful in this regard: “Dream. Plan. Reach.”.  

What aspect of your art/practices 'fills your cup' the most?

I think most aspects of making music help keep my cup full! I get a great boost when I am performing solo or in small chamber ensembles, but that is a pretty small amount of time compared to my daily practice. I would say that my last practice session of each day is what consistently keeps it full, as I always end with a cool-down for anywhere from 20-45 minutes. The great trombonist Peter Steiner calls it “Lip Yoga”, and this meditative end to the day really prepares me for the next day of work.

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