september 10, 2017.
Q&A. TSQ’s guest artist for its next program ‘See Me As I Am’, pianist Daniel de Borah, talks of a his childhood in Budapest, the ‘ghost’ of Shostakovich and the virtues of curiosity
1. In your formative years, you studied at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, the St. Petersburg State Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Music, London. Can you describe a little of your experience studying abroad, particularly in Budapest and St Petersburg?
I was ten years old when my mother took me out of school in Canberra to study at the Liszt Academy in Budapest where we stayed for four years. It was an adventure for me, an exciting and extremely stimulating period of my childhood. I was accepted into the Academy’s “Department for Extraordinarily Gifted Children” and thrust into a vibrant and intense world of music which was unlike anything I had experienced until then. I was surrounded by other children who were equally driven and consumed by music and we would learn from each other and muck about with music and just generally spur each other on. We also travelled and performed a lot both within Hungary and in neighbouring countries and in this way I was able to visit great cities such as Vienna and Rome.
Then at the age of seventeen and having completed my HSC back in Canberra, I headed to Russia to begin my undergraduate studies at the St Petersburg Conservatoire. Cultural life is extremely rich in St Petersburg and I was able to go to wonderful concerts several times a week, and also to opera and ballet performances at the famed Mariinsky Theatre directly across the street from the conservatoire, where my student card would grant me access for next to nothing. I lived in St Petersburg for nearly six years. Life there wasn’t always easy and the winters were long and dark and bitterly cold. Studies were intensive and in Nina Seryogina I had a very special piano teacher who was tireless in her dedication to her students and really transformed me as a pianist and musician. It was a beautiful place in which to find my independence and explore music.
2. How has your time in Russia impacted on the way you approach Russian music, for example, has it changed the way you approach Shostakovich’s mighty Piano Quintet?
The ghost of Shostakovich is almost tangible at the St Petersburg Conservatoire where he taught as recently as the sixties and where the composition faculty today is largely made up of his pupils. The St Petersburg Philharmonic Hall is named after him and each year on victory day his 7th symphony is performed, commemorating the 900-day siege of Leningrad between 1941-44. He is revered as one of the St Peterburg’s favourite sons and it was impossible not to feel his presence during my six years there. Walking the gloomy halls of the conservatoire where Shostakovich also studied and later taught, I think one cannot help but absorb something of the essence that formed such an important part of his musical persona. I certainly feel closer to his music for having been a student in St Petersburg during those years.
3. This year you began a new teaching position on the faculty of the Queensland Conservatorium. As one of Australia’s most sought after performers, you are no doubt fully aware of the challenges facing pianists in Australia today. How do you prepare young Australian pianists for a future in the industry?
I think that a future in the industry should be the last thing on a young musician’s mind as they embark on their studies. These years of self discovery are an opportunity to completely embrace and lose oneself in music. Finding a unique and personal voice and place in the musical world is a process that is best not rushed. As a pianist there are many diverse pathways to follow so versatility is definitely a quality worth cultivating and curiosity is a virtue!
july 16, 2017.
Q&A. Soprano Greta Bradman talks opera, India, Mehta and inspiration
1. You recently made your debut with Opera Australia in La Boheme. Can you tell us a little of your experience working with Australia’s premier opera company and playing the role of Mimi?
Singing a principal role with OA has been a dream ever since I turned my attention towards opera and headed off to the Wales International Academy of Voice in 2013 thanks to the Australian International Opera Award. It was an absolute fairytale moment. Being away from my kids I found tough, but the experience of 12 performances where I got to embody the incredible young woman Mimì and enter her Bohemian world was a gift. Working with such extraordinary singers where I wasn’t just ‘the singer’ but one of may each who had a role to play in the whole was something I loved very much, and the Australian Opera Ballet Orchestra were superb. Lyndon was incredibly supportive and helpful, as was the Italian conductor Pietro Rizzo, it was an experience I’ll always remember
2. Your performances with Tinalley in July will be a far more intimate affair than the operatic stage, particularly in the Utzon Room! How will you approach these performances and in what way do you alter how you use your voice?
I think I’ve done so much singing both in intimate spaces and then in big places, and with a variety of lineups, I just let it naturally find it’s space. It’s a much more intimate sound. The emphasis is on lustre, resonance, tone, truly being an instrument among other instruments. It’s very different to singing opera, and engages the voice in a different way. The connection between the singer (and other musicians) and the audience is far more direct, and there’s greater proximity obviously by virtue of the size of the room, but also because there aren’t characters that we’re playing – we’re us, Greta, Justin, Lerida, and so on, and we’re striving to be vessels for the music where it can come alive and speak to the audience and touch them in some way.
3. In 2016, you toured India as soloist with the Australian World Orchestra, under the baton of Zubin Mehta. Can you tell us a little of this extraordinary experience and discovering India Maestro Mehta and the AWO?
Utterly incredible in every way. I adore Mo Mehta, and the AWO, and after that tour – India too. I’m so keen to get back. Words can’t express how extraordinary Mehta is as a conductor, and he and his wife Nancy were so incredibly good to me. They subsequently flew me to LA to sing at Mo Mehta’s 80th birthday party, and it was so special to see them again.
4. In between a highly successful career as an opera singer, ABC presenter and mother of 2, you are also a keen advocate for mental health issues and working with young people on issues such as resilience and performance coaching. How has this impacted on your approach to performing and the power of music to change lives?
I think that increasingly we in the performing arts are going to need to be advocates for wellbeing as well as for classical music. That the sustenance that classical music can provide people can be part of the revolution that’s coming around wellbeing and helping people find meaning and fulfilment in life. It’s not the be all and end all but a part of a bigger picture. This necessitates us getting real with where we’re at within the industry, and taking stock of what’s sustainable, and what we can do together and with help to flourish and lead sustainable and deeply meaningful careers, artistically and personally (if you can divide the two!)
july 10, 2017.
Tinalley farewells cellist Michelle Wood
After 14 years of wonderful music making together, founding cellist, Michelle Wood has made the decision to leave the Tinalley String Quartet. Michelle’s final appearances with the Tinalley String Quartet will be at the Tasmania Music Festival and the Port Fairy Music Festival in October, preceded by a short-term residency at ANU. The Quartet welcomes guest cellists Umberto Clerici and Patrick Murphy for Programs 2 and 3 of its 2017 Series. Michelle will conclude her Tinalley journey with a recording of Mendelssohn’s Opus 12 and 13 Quartets in December. In particular, the Opus 13 Quartet of Mendelssohn has been a constant presence in the life of Tinalley String Quartet. As one of the first quartets we played together, it is a fitting bookend to Michelle’s wonderfully creative and highly valued contribution. We wish her every success and happiness in this new chapter.
february 9, 2017.
a jewel in Melbourne’s crown: a reflection by lerida
Tinalley recently learnt that on February 10th, Melbourne jeweller, Kozminsky, will be closing its doors for the final time. Many musicians will remember that before we purchased sheet music online (or downloaded it from IMSLP) we would visit a Melbourne institution, Fine Music. Tucked upstairs, down a little obscure lane connecting Bourke Street and Little Collins, McKillop Lane, Fine Music was a treasure trove of freshly pressed editions of Barenreiter, Henle, Sikorski or (excessively priced) Durand. The excursion was also an opportunity to browse the magnificent window displays of a jewel in Melbourne’s crown, Kozminsky. Immersed in the hustle and bustle of Bourke Street, the store was a reminder of the elegance of yesteryear…
I remember when the Quartet had been accepted to compete in both the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition and the Banff International String Quartet Competition, two major competitions scheduled within weeks of each other, we suddenly realised that we needed performance practise. The cost of venue hire, advertising, ticketing… after several hours of brainstorming in Justin’s bachelor pad, he suddenly said ‘What about the jeweller, you know, the one with the amazing store near Fine Music, Kozminsky?’. I was sceptical. But we rang and I spoke with Kirsten Albrecht. Kirsten immediately said, ‘why don’t you come in this afternoon and I’ll speak with you about it?’ I remember vividly that it was a scorching Melbourne day, I arrived in my little summer dress, and after years of gazing through the glass, I entered the store for the first time. Kirsten sat me down, listened to Tinalley’s story (at that time, we had been together 4 years) and after conferring with her brother Ben, came back and said ‘how about $5000?’ I was stunned. I felt like Kirsten had just offered me a million dollars. That was the beginning of a wonderful association that Tinalley has been privileged to enjoy for ten years.
The Kozminsky ‘door’ was always open. Michelle and I were loaned jewels for international tours, photo shoots and special events… Kirsten and her wonderful staff helped us organise sumptuous events in the upstairs gallery celebrating Tinalley’s achievements and unveiling new chapters in Tinalley’s life … in fact, in truth, the only reason why Adam and Justin are married is because of the magnificent rocks they presented their wives when the question was popped… rings selected under the discerning gaze of Kirsten!
But what is extraordinary about the relationship between Kozminsky and Tinalley, is that we shared a passion and a vision. Kozminsky listened to Tinalley’s story and wanted to be a part of its next chapter. And Kozminsky went above and beyond in its efforts to support Tinalley. Ten years later, I realise how rare that support is.
When Kozminsky closes its door on February 10th, 2017, Melbourne will not only lose an iconic link to the heady days of sophistication and elegance, but a rare jewel in the modern world.