Matthew McDonald
Double Bass

Born in Canberra, Australia, he began his studies with Max McBride at the Canberra School of Music in 1996, later continuing with Kees Boersma at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he completed his Bachelor of Music. From 2000 to 2001 he was a scholar of the Berliner Philharmonic’s Orchestral Academy, after which he was engaged as Associate Principal Bass of the Danish National Orchestra. Wishing to pursue further studies, he returned to Berlin after six months to study with Esko Laine at the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” for the Konzertexamen (Soloist’s Diploma).

Matthew subsequently joined Ensemble Modern as Principal Bass, where he played for three years, working closely with many of today’s most important composers. Since that time, Matthew has held the position of Principal Bass with Rundfunk Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, arriving at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as Principal Bass in January 2009.

Chamber music is one of Matthew’s passions. He has performed at the ‘Music at Plush’, Zagreb and Winchester festivals. He is also a regular guest at the International Musicians Seminar, Prussia Cove. Matthew has performed with Imogen Cooper, Radovan Vlatkovic, Mark Padmore and the Kuss Quartet and as part of 2010’s Prussia Cove Tour played the Rossini Duo at the Wigmore Hall with cellist, Phillip Higham. He frequently performs with duo partner French pianist Yannick Rafalimanana.

Highly regarded as a soloist, Matthew has performed Nino Rota’s Divertimento Concertante with the Berliner Symphoniker, Klaus Huber’s ‘Erinnere dich an G’ with the Ensemble Modern under the baton of Heinz Holliger and Kurtag’s ‘Aus dem Sudelbücher’ with Soprano Salome Kammer. Peter Eötvös wrote his bass concerto ‘Aurora’ for Matthew, joining him on stage to conduct the premiere at the Berlin Philharmonie in December 2019. In June 2022, Matthew performed the premiere of Gerald Barry’s double bass concerto with the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of John Størgards.

Matthew has given masterclasses at Yale University, the Sydney Conservatorium, in Tokyo and at the Tongyeong Music Festival in South Korea. He has tutored the bass sections of the European Union Youth Orchestra, The Britten Pears Orchestra and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie (German Youth Orchestra) and was a jury member of the Deutscher Musikwettbewerb.

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©Emile Holba