Half-Swedish, half-Danish Mattias Palm came to Mercer University to become a double bass performance major.
With both parents playing for orchestras, Palm began his training on the double bass at the age of 9.
“I’ve always wanted to be that as well, an orchestra musician,” Palm said.
Palm won a national competition in Sweden when he was 17 years old and made it to the international level of the competition, where he advanced to the semi-finals. He has now played in Carnegie Hall three times.
“What’s so unique about (Carnegie Hall) is that it kind of presents the… high point of classical music in America, and that’s where all of the biggest people have come to play,” Palm said. “The fact that I was a part of that … that’s been really astounding.”
Palm said he met professors from Mercer while on tour with the Swedish Youth Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York, and one of the professors showed them around the city.
The professor told Palm that there was a spot in Mercer’s Robert McDuffie Center for Strings for him, which led him to come to the university.
Palm is currently a member of the Mercer University Orchestra and the Jazz Ensemble in addition to his private studies. He practices five hours a day, which he says ends up being closer to six or seven hours including preparing the instrument and taking breaks every hour.
Dr. Christopher Schmitz, a music theory and composition professor at Mercer, said Palm is an intelligent and talented student.
“I think he’s a very special student because he’s so bright and he’s so curious,” Schmitz said. “I just really value him as a part of my studio and my classes for the past few years.”
Schmitz said that he has taught Palm in theory classes and composition lessons, and Palm always goes beyond class discussions with more questions.
“He even took a graduate theory class from me as an undergraduate student because we were running out of ways to challenge him in theory,” Schmitz said.
Schmitz said that Palm has a lot of original ideas and tries to push the limits with his work.
“He’s very interested in finding the musicality in a piece he’s performing or finding ways to interpret the piece,” Schmitz said.
Reed Tucker, a junior double bass player and performance major, said that Palm is competitive but in a positive way.
“He’s always ten steps ahead of me, so it just really pushes me to be the best that I can be, and it’s never negative competition,” Tucker said. “He’s always so supportive (and tries) to bring everyone around him up in the most positive way possible.”
Tucker said that Palm is the absolute best at ultimate frisbee, but he is also a thoughtful and considerate friend.
“Sitting down for a conversation with Mattias, you are going to get into a deep philosophical discussion,” Tucker said.
Palm said that the biggest advantage he has received from coming to Mercer is being introduced to a completely different culture.
“Being in a place that’s so culturally different than what I grew up with has been extremely eye opening,” Palm said. “I have become much more patient and accepting of people who think differently of me.”