Dr Deborah de Graaff is a renowned Australian clarinettist. Deborah’s 16 CDs and tracks are broadcast regularly on ABC Classic FM and music streaming services.

Winning competitions scholarships and awards, she has performed overseas and in Australia for over 30 years as a chamber musician and recording artist, often premiering Australian compositions. Deborah has worked with many renowned artists including her mother, contralto Lauris Elms, soprano Rita Hunter, pianists Geoffrey Parsons, John Winther, Len Vorster, Richard Bonynge, Paul Dyer’s Brandenburg Orchestra and the Fine Arts Orchestra at St Martin in the Fields, London.

After many years teaching (Sydney Conservatorium of Music USYD, UNSW), she now applies her PhD Model of Elite Practice toward a hand select group of prodigious and advanced students, working online and at her Sydney City, Town Hall studio. Deborah and team have now established SILO SOUNDS Inc. a recital series based in the twin towns of Harden Murrumburrah in rural NSW (near Canberra). Guest artists are invited to perform in this beautiful venue, which now features a brand new elite S6X Yamaha recital grand piano. Guest artists include: Rachel Scott in her series ‘Bach in the Dark’; Three’s Company, a soprano, clarinet and piano trio with Dr Tonya Lemoh and Dr Narelle Yeo; Jazz singer songwriter Emma Grace Stephenson; and pianist and ABC presenter Tamara Cislowsa.


Question: Can you tell us a bit about you, and what you are up to these days?

Answer Happily performing in Silo Sounds in our town of Harden with guest artists like Tamara Cislowska, regular pianist Tonya Lemoh, a beautiful community, grand piano, suppers to die for with wine and cheese from Freeman Vineyards and slices from CWA (country women’s association) family-coveted recipes. <B> </B> Teaching in the city and online a bunch of amazingly motivated prodigious children and my favourite adults and university musos. Applying PhD music psychology research in action. Living both on the water and rural NSW, following my gardening and sustainability passions.

Question: What was a highlight of your time in AYO programs?

Answer Western Australian season in 1983.

Question: What skills, musical and otherwise, did you take away from your time at AYO?

Answer Friendship, collaborative insights, joy of music and musical connective intuition.

Question: What was your favourite piece or performance during your programs?

Answer Mahler.

Question: Why do you think AYO is important to the Australian cultural landscape?

Answer Answers to Number 4. Passion and imagination is intrinsic to being a motivated musician. It is a long road! And you need to have the passion to continue.

Question: How would you describe AYO in three words?

Answer Joyous, passionate, focused.

Question: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about you or your time at AYO?

Answer I wanted it to be longer! After many music camps and tutoring, I did only one season in the orchestra – sigh.

Question: What was one of the first pieces of music to inspire you?

Answer Too hard - I’ve been going to concerts since I was an infant - Mum was an opera singer (Lauris Elms) and still going strong. The first instrument was and still is the clarinet which I heard standing out in all the orchestras that accompanied her concerts.

Question: What pieces would you share with people who want to discover more about orchestral music?

Answer Mozart’s <i>Don Giovanni</i> overture, Strauss’ <i>Rosenkavalier</i>: Marshaline's last scene (with the bells), Schubert lieder to understand the line of a phrase.

Question: Is there a piece of advice you received from a music teacher/mentor that has always stayed with you?

Answer I have received so many pieces advice, all great... <B> </B> Practise-wise I will share: keep the material short and repeat five times and change it up often – you will learn faster and smarter.

Question: What instrument would you play if you couldn’t play your primary instrument?

Answer Voice, cello, piano.

Question: Where in the world would you most like to perform and why?

Answer In my studio, looking at the canola fields. Music is simply vibration. Sharing sound is great – so maybe opening the doors!