Artist-in-Residence – National Music Camp 2018
You’ve been involved with AYO for some time now, how did it all begin?
It all goes back to 1988, which was a big year for the AYO with the opening of Parliament House in Canberra, and of course the bicentennial tour of Europe with Christoph Eschenbach and Charles Mackerras. I was absolutely delighted when I got into the Australian Youth Orchestra; it was a pretty good year to have my first AYO experience! Everybody who went on that tour recognises that it was a life-changing event. So many friendships that were made on that tour have now lasted nearly 30 years, and a whole number of them are still my close friends and musical colleagues. More recently I’ve been on the AYO’s Artistic Advisory Committee for many years, I can’t even remember how long! I’ve also worked as a tutor and directed at Music Camp, so I know the program incredibly well.
Speaking of which, are you looking forward to returning to National Music Camp in January 2018?
Yes absolutely! It’s really nice to see the introduction of the Artists in Residence over the past few years, which is what I’ll be doing this time. The energy at Music Camp is astonishing; there’s a constant need to know more amongst the musicians. The intensity of camp is something that everybody always comments on, both tutors and participants. It’s utterly exhausting, but incredibly rewarding! I can’t think of a better way to spend a week in summer.
What made you decide to play the harp?
I started off on piano when I was six. I love the piano; in many ways it’s more versatile than the harp. Music was the only thing I was interested in, and my parents suggested that I should look at taking up an orchestral instrument. I looked around and went to concerts; thought about this instrument and that instrument. I remember quite clearly seeing a harp at a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra concert at Melbourne Town Hall, and it was played by a man called Hugh Jones who eventually became my teacher. I’d never really thought about the harp because at that stage I thought of it as a girls’ instrument, but that experience turned the whole thing on its head!
We’ve noticed that you like to perform in some interesting places…
Indeed! Caves, beaches, shearing sheds! Any opportunity to play music is great, and great venues come in all shapes and sizes. For me, it’s all about the connection with the audience. When you have a performance in a cave or a shed, it changes the way you have a conversation with that audience, and the way they perceive the music. Any chance to have a deeper engagement with listeners is always welcome, and a great way to do that is stick a harp on a beach and see what happens!