Behind the Scenes
Meet the Players
Brendan Joyce, violin (leader) (Also known as: B)Brendan Joyce is a violinist and Leader of Camerata of St John's. He was born in Ayr, North Queensland and moved to Brisbane at the end of high school to study music at the University of Queensland. He furthered his musical studies in the USA and attained a Doctor of Musical Arts. In addition to playing with Camerata he performs as a Guest Concertmaster for the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra in Sydney and frequently leads the Orchestra of the Antipodes. It's a wonder Brendan made it this far though. As a kid his ears were so big he got his head stuck between the rails of the Tallebudgera Bridge on the Gold Coast and couldn't get his head back out! The key to his heart is chocolate and good coffee. He once listened to the Justin Bieber Christmas album while traveling from Brisbane to the Gold Coast and back, and survived...just.
What made you take up music?My mother was a fine amateur singer and used to be the lead singer in the local choral society productions in Ayr where I grew up. She in particular, but also my father fostered our love of music. My mother used to sing loudly at church when we were growing up, harmonising to the hymns. It was SO embarrassing when I was a teenager! My Dad plays the harmonica and can sing too. I grew up with the sound of my older sister and brother learning musical instruments; my sister used to practice flute and piano at 6am. There are photos of me as a (naked) three year old belting the top of the piano while she was trying to practise. My aunts used to make us "stand over in the corner and sing us a song!" So, all in all, there was a fair amount of music around the household and family, and I feel like music was part of my life from an early age.
What is the best piece of advice you can give a young musician?Let us hear your heart when you play. That's more important than technical perfection (though do keep aiming for technical fluency)!
What is the strangest/funniest/scariest thing that's happened to you in a concert?I dropped my bow in the Sydney Opera House while playing with the Australian Youth Orchestra, but I caught it before it flew into the audience…phew!
What is the funniest thing a student has said to you?After explaining to a student the meaning of the Italian term ‘appassionato' (to play with passion), I asked him could he now describe it back to me in his own words. He said, OK, yeah I get it. It's like... a great big juicy steak! On another occasion, after a small and quite young student asked me why I was only allowing her to use 3/4 of the bow (so that her bow would be straight) I said, don’t worry, one day when you are big and old like me you'll be able to use the whole bow. Oh, she said without missing a beat, but you're not that old are you? I mean, you're only about 50 and you're WAY younger than grandma! I was only about 30 at the time and grandma was sitting in the lesson with us.
What other instrument/s do you wish you could play and why?I wish I could sing. I can sing, but I'm not sure anyone wants to hear it! My roommate and I used to do crazy opera singing in the mornings when I was a student in America. Our singing was such a flop that we decided to start a new genre called, "Flopera". We had fun, but the other two roommates thought we two Aussies were completely crazy.
Are you a cat or dog person?I guess I'm a two-timer as I like both, but if I had a house I'd probably get a wonderful dog. I adore dogs. They are such a gift to the world; a friend when you don't have one and I guess they can be a friend when you don't want one too. 😉
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?Edward de Bono: the guy who has taught the world about ‘lateral thinking' and thinking outside of the square. Dalai Lama: I think a person of that kind of compassion and empathy, well, just being in his presence would have to have an effect, a positive one. Brahms: the famous 19th century classical composer, I'd like to have met that soul as his music is so touching and expressive. Steve Jobs: the co-founder of Apple, I mean, wouldn't that be inspiring? Frank Gehry: the world famous architect of places like Walt Disney Hall and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, his buildings are remarkably creative.
If you were PM, what would you do?I'd outline a vision for Australia, one that put creative pursuits at the top of our list of priorities.
What is your pre-concert ritual?I like to sleep if possible in the afternoon. Get to the hall early. Drink water. Brush my teeth if I have eaten. Breathe deeply somewhere for a few moments and remind myself to keep it all in perspective. (I'm always nervous so I like to address that.)
Jonny Ng, violin (Also known as: Jonathan…when in trouble with his Mother)Jonny used to be all about drugs and rock & roll: a pharmacist and a musician. Two years ago, Jonny hung up his lab coat to focus entirely on his passion: music and music education. He is a violinist, violist, and pianist; enjoys teaching all three instruments as well as instrumental and choral accompanying, composing, arranging, and conducting. Jonny is Principal Second Violin and Education Manager for Camerata of St John’s, pianist in Ensemble Entourage for Musica Viva In Schools, upper strings and piano teacher at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School, and regularly tutors for the Queensland Youth Orchestra. From a young age, Jonny has had the privilege of touring all around Australia and the world doing what he loves: playing music. During that elusive down time, Jonny enjoys spending it with his loved ones, cooking, reading, and catching up on sleep.
What made you take up music?When I was in Year 3, I took what I now know was a music aptitude test and was given a violin to learn in the Year 3 String Program at Ferny Hills State School. After a year of group lessons with Nicola Seneviratne, I started private lessons with my first violin teacher, Marcia Cox. A few years later, my parents bought my brother and me a keyboard for Christmas which I promptly claimed as mine. After teaching myself the basics of piano playing (and struggling through reading bass clef) I begged my parents for piano lessons. I also picked up recorder, saxophone and percussion and sang in the school choirs but managed to eventually narrow it down to violin and piano. I recently picked up viola too which I also love playing.
Describe an event in your musical journey that has the most meaning to you.I vividly remember my first rehearsal as a member of the Queensland Youth Symphony: I had just turned 15 and was sitting right at the back of the second violin section. We started with Respighi's Roman Festivals and from the word go, I was terribly lost, pretty much throughout the whole piece. If you're familiar with the work, you would know it is not straightforward by any means, especially when you're sight-reading, for someone with limited experience playing in a symphony orchestra, and not having a chance to have listened to a recording beforehand. It was a baptism of fire if you will: a piece that was unlike any other I'd ever played before, unusual melodies, tonalities, one half of the orchestra seemingly playing something completely unrelated to the other half. However, as the weeks went on, I learnt quickly and as the concert drew nearer, I can remember being in my own little world during school assembly, playing the piece in my head from beginning to end with all its wondrous colours and moods. I learned so much from playing in QYS and it shaped me as a young musician.
What is the best piece of advice you can give a young musician?Music is a lifelong journey of development and growth; the more work and effort you put in, the more satisfaction you will get out of playing your instrument. Always remember that music isn't just about overcoming the technical challenges of playing your instrument; it's also about the meaning of the music, portraying a vast array of emotions, telling a story, connecting with others and the environment around you, acquiring an unlimited palette of colours in your sound. Understanding the composer and their intentions in writing a piece gives you a great insight on how you can deliver your performance. Think about how to captivate, thrill, and move your audience; the key to this is to lay your heart on the line when you play.
Which non-classical musicians/bands have you performed with?The Cat Empire, Lior, Tenzin Choegyal, The Whitlams, country music artists Catherine Britt, Graeme Connors, Melinda Schneider and Adam Harvey on Camerata's Country Classics tour as part of the Queensland Music Festival, African Children's Choir. I recently played violin for the Brisbane season of The Lion King which was a lot of fun.
What's the biggest crowd you've performed to? What's the smallest?An awesome sight was looking out at the 10 000 strong audience at the Brisbane Riverstage wave their arms from side to side in almost perfect unison when I was playing with The Cat Empire; the one or two people who were waving the opposite direction to everyone else stood out like sore thumbs! The smallest crowd I've played to in proportion to the number of performers was in Queenstown, Tasmania. Our 100 piece Queensland Youth Symphony orchestra performed for 7 people (11 including our staff) in Queenstown, Tasmania. We later found out that the whole town had been invited to an 18th birthday party. Our manager pretty much coerced people on the footpath into the hall to watch our concert.
What other instrument/s do you wish you could play and why?I wish I could play the cello; ironically, it's my favourite string instrument. However, I really wish I could sing. The human voice is such a personal instrument coming from within and it also holds the added benefit of words which can add another layer of meaning to the music. I terrorise my students by singing at them in lessons.
What is your pre-concert ritual?I have to have brushed my teeth before I go on stage; I'm not exactly sure why, perhaps clean teeth = clean intonation? I also don't enjoy performing on a full stomach so I try to plan an early meal. I get the most compliments about my hair from audience members after a show and because I don't like to disappoint, I ensure every strand of hair is perfectly in place. ;-P
What is your pre-concert ritual?Practising open strings, bananas, tuna, and warming up in a suit jacket.
Tiana Angus, violin (Also known as: T)Playing the violin is one of Tiana's favourite things to do. She knew from an early age that she wanted to become a professional violinist and is so grateful that this dream came true as she absolutely loves playing music all day long. Tiana began learning at the age of 12 from her teacher and mentor, Elizabeth Morgan AM who significantly influenced her violin playing and continues to be at the core of her inspiration and passion for musical performance. In 2009, Tiana graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music with a Masters of Music majoring in Violin Performance and String Pedagogy. Tiana says, I absolutely love playing in Camerata especially because of the other wonderful players; they are not only my colleagues but are also my Camerata family. I also love the new and interesting pieces I have been able to perform through being a member of this ensemble.
What made you take up music? When did you start your instrument? Who was your first music teacher? Describe an event in your musical journey that has the most meaning to you.My kindergarten teacher told my mother that I was excelling in musical activities so my Mum enrolled me in piano lessons. However, when I arrived at my first piano lesson I announced that I actually wanted to play the violin because I had seen Itzhak Perlman playing on Sesame Street. I began Suzuki violin lessons with Peter Rickert at the age of four and I absolutely loved playing violin (and have ever since). I also learnt from Rachel Harbison in Bundaberg. When I was twelve, I continued my musical journey with Elizabeth Morgan AM (Founder of Camerata); my passion for playing the violin took off and I couldn't stop playing. Elizabeth Morgan has been a constant source of inspiration and wisdom. There have been two events in my musical journey that inspired my passion for chamber music: winning Fanfare as part of my school string ensemble in Year 9 and participating in MOST (Musically Outstanding Students program) when I was in Year 10 and 12. These two experiences solidified my dream to become a professional violinist in a chamber ensemble. I'm so grateful to have achieved this dream. The hard work locked away in a practice room certainly paid off.
What is the strangest/funniest/scariest thing that's happened to you in a concert?Camerata performed several Mexican Mariachi pieces in a concert called El Salon Mexico! in 2010 at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. One of our Camerata colleagues was dressed in a traditional mariachi costume, the music was fun and vibrant, and the audience was warm and enthusiastic. All was going well until the fire alarm went off in the middle of the performance, stopping proceedings momentarily. And this was all broadcast live on ABC Classic FM.
What is the funniest thing a student has said to you?I'm sorry I didn't practise this week. I forgot that I played the violin. Ironically, it didn't really make me laugh! 😉
What are you listening to at the moment? What gets the most plays on your iPod?Definitely Maxim Vengerov. I have his Ysa?e album on repeat as well as his Brahms’ Violin Sonata in D minor.
Are you a cat or dog person?I absolutely love animals. I grew up with two dogs and a cat in our house. Currently, an adorable Tonkinese kitten named Claudette runs our house and I wouldn't have it any other way.
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?
- Ellen Degeneres. I'm addicted to her show and I think she is hilarious. I'm sure it would be a fun dinner if she was there. 2. Maxim Vengerov. He is my favourite violinist and it would be incredible and inspiring to meet him. 3. Jane Austen. I have read her books Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice countless times. I am fascinated by the era they are set in. I would love to hear her insights into the time in which she lived. 4. My family. It isn't often that we are all together as we are all dispersed across Australia. They are my favourite people in the world (plus, I'm sure my sister would also like to meet Ellen too).
If you were PM, what would you do?I think Australia is such a blessed and lucky country that I would like to help other countries less fortunate. I would set up infrastructure so that people in third world countries had access to clean drinking water and would do what I can to end world hunger. I also would place an emphasis on high quality education and health, and of course the arts; I believe they're all very important.
Sally-Ann Djachenko, violin (Also known as: Sal)Sally-Ann is a Scottish violinist who grew up in Glasgow. She studied (very hard!) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Royal Academy of Music and Queensland Conservatorium of Music. Her first job was with the Bingham Quartet (London) but she also enjoyed a freelance career playing with many fine UK orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra plus some onstage performances at the National Theatre (alongside Fiona Shaw, who played Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter films). Her best gig ever was making icicle noises for a BBC documentary about Antarctica for which she was paid rather generously for the minimal effort involved! Her most dangerous gig ever was when the Mikado fell into the pit breaking her bow in half in a performance in Geneva. In her time off Sally-Ann enjoys spending time with her children (aged 6 and 8), baking, reading, and international travel. She loves playing in Camerata and thinks the choice of music is really original and exciting (and hopes you do too).
What made you take up music?I was surrounded by music from a very young age. My father was a professional musician (on staff at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama) and so it was a very natural pathway for me to follow in his footsteps.
Describe an event in your musical journey that has the most meaning to you.Going to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London was a life-changing event. Having been a ‘big fish in a small pond' at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama I was suddenly a very ‘small fish in a big pond' and I was surrounded by talent of the highest level everywhere I turned. I lived and breathed music from 8am-9pm every night. Working with conductors like Sir Colin Davis, Christopher Warren-Green, and John Georgiadis (who always made you play desk by desk) was hugely inspiring. I used to practise in the attic of the RAM next door to Daniel Hope (now a very well-known soloist). We would both do our Carl Flesch Scale System for an hour, first thing every morning, and it created a sense of purpose and solidarity that everyone was in the same musical boat.
What is the best piece of advice you can give a young musician?If you want to succeed as a young musician you have to put in the time and effort and not just rely on talent alone. That magic 10,000 hours of practise is a well-known key which applies also to other disciplines.
What is the strangest thing that's happened to you in a concert?The strangest thing that's happened to me in a concert, is that after a solo performance in a church in Geneva, Switzerland, a man literally stood up to talk and then dropped dead. I don't think I have ever been so shocked in my whole life! Did my violin playing kill him?
Who is your hero? Who/what inspires you?I admire very much the musical playing of Hilary Hahn, the young American violinist. I like any playing that is fresh, exciting, risk-taking and fully committed. There are so many great groups out there, of which Camerata is one.
Which non-classical musicians/bands have you performed with?I am very fortunate to have played with quite a number of pop legends such as: George Michael, Elton John, Sting, Paul McCartney, and Cliff Richard.
What is the funniest thing a student has said to you?Sorry miss, I couldn't practise this week because I was feeding the neighbour's chickens!
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?Julian Fellowes, so I could suggest some plot ideas for the next series of Downton Abbey!
What is your pre-concert ritual?I like to arrive early at a concert venue so that I don't feel flustered and have time to run my fingers over any tricky passages. I don't really have any unusual rituals, although I have to have short fingernails to play.
Jason TongJason Tong, violin Jason has been playing the violin for over twenty years and also enjoys playing the piano and Otamatone usually with mixed results (find a video of someone playing Otamatone, you won't regret it!). When Jason is asked the popular tricky question, who’s your favourite composer?, he answers with, Most of the ones with whose last names start with 'B'. In his spare time he enjoys bicycle riding, swimming, picnics, hanging around with friends, and trying all kinds of food from other cultures.
Who was your first music teacher? Describe an event in your musical journey that has the most meaning to you.I began my violin lessons when I was 5 with a lady who was teaching at school. Our lessons started out in the uniform shop, which was a vault with a very heavy door. I studied with her for 8 years and when she got married I played at her wedding. Performing in front of so many people and for such a special event made a huge impact on me. I was struck by how meaningful and powerful music could be for people listening.
What other instrument/s do you wish you could play and why?I would love to learn how to play the piano accordion. It looks like a lot of fun and there is some great music out there for it; Astor Piazzolla is a big name that springs to mind.
What are you listening to at the moment? What gets the most plays on your iPod?At the moment I'm going through a bit of a French composer stage. I'm listening to the likes of Ravel, Chausson, Franck, and Fauré.
Are you a cat or dog person?I love both! I like how energetic and enthusiastic dogs can be, and I appreciate that cats are very independent and can have quirky personalities.
What is your pre-concert ritual?Before a concert I try to just keep relaxed and keep breathing! One of the great things about Camerata is how we're all good friends and I like chatting a little before the concert starts.
Allana Wales, violinAllana is a violinist born and raised in Cairns. Allana feels immensely privileged that she is the product of what she believes is the best musical education system in Australia. She studied at the Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane with Camerata's founder, Elizabeth Morgan AM, and has found fantastic opportunities to perform and do what she loves. Allana says she has lovely colleagues and a challenging, rewarding workplace at Camerata of St John's.
What is the best piece of advice you can give a young musician?You can practise your way out of anything. 😛
Who is your hero?Hilary Hahn for her fearlessness of playing. Anne-Sophie Mutter for her colours of tone. Just watching fabulous musicians play, I find, changes my playing for the better the way nothing else can.
What other instrument/s do you wish you could play and why?In my next life, I'd like to be a singer. I envy the way they actually *are* their instrument, instead of needing to have one!
Are you a cat or dog person?Cat.
If you were PM, what would you do?Bring back free tertiary education.
What is your pre-concert ritual?Doing some Alexander Technique and lying on the floor if I can.
Alice Buckingham, violaAlice made her first musical sounds on the violin when she was 7, but discovered her true voice on the viola at 15. From then on there was no going back; music was the only thing for her. Alice is equally passionate about string pedagogy and performance, and is very thankful that she has the opportunity to do both. She loves to travel and experience the sights and sounds of the world. Alice is very happily married to theatre sound designer and composer Dane Alexander, and enjoys attending plays and contemporary theatre just as much as concerts. If she has a spare 15 minutes you'll find her in a comfy chair with a good book and a nice cup of tea. In addition to her life in music, Alice also coordinates a support network for refugee families on the south side of Brisbane.
What made you take up music?I don't ever remember a time in my life without music. Classical music was a consistent fixture in my family as I was growing up. Music was always on in our home, wherever we lived, and I went to my first concert when I was only just 2 years old. My mum bought me a violin for my 7th birthday, and I vividly remember going to pick it up from the shop and bringing it home. I opened the case and couldn't stop looking at it! My first teacher was in Melbourne, and I began on the Muller-Rusch system.
Describe an event in your musical journey that has the most meaning to you.There have been many events on my musical journey that have had profound meaning for me. My mum often spoke of when she and my father would listen to Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 over dinner when they were living in London in the 1970s. I then had the privilege of performing this wonderful piece of music with the Australian Youth Orchestra on tour in Europe with world-renowned pianist Cristina Ortiz. It was very early on in my performance career, and the joy of performing one of my parents' favourite pieces of music is still vivid in my mind. Since then I've had many experiences of performing pieces of music that have strong family associations, and those concerts are always incredibly special.
What is the best piece of advice you can give a young musician?Never underestimate the Power of Practice…yes, I used capital letters for a reason!
What is the strangest/funniest/scariest thing that's happened to you in a concert?Throwing paper planes during a performance of Battalia by Baroque composer Heinrich Biber was lots of fun!
Who is your hero? Who/what inspires you?I am inspired by many people in Australia and around the world who seek to eradicate poverty and to improve the living conditions of those who live in adversity. I am inspired by those who speak up for minority groups and who give a voice to those who live in oppression. Malala Yousafzai, the young voice of freedom for education in Pakistan, Nelson Mandela, the great human rights activist, Dr Hawa Abdi, a Somali doctor who sheltered tens of thousands of refugees on her property in Mogadishu at the height of the Somali civil war, and Dr Catherine Hamlin, co-founder of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. These are just a few of the people who inspire me to do the small amount that I can do to help those less fortunate than myself. Musically speaking, I am constantly inspired by my musical mentor: Associate Professor Patricia Pollett. Her passion for music is tangible and her teaching both challenging and inspiring, and I would not be the violist I am today if it weren't for her guidance.
Are you a cat or dog person?I grew up with two cats, so I'm innately a cat person. But I have grown to love dogs too, particularly a little white Maltese/Tibetan called Frank.
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?I would love to host a dinner party for my favourite authors: Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Dave Eggers, David Malouf, Wilkie Collins, John Keats, Stevie Smith, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Les Murray. Imagine the conversation! I'd also like to have dinner with investigative journalists George Negus and Eric Campbell. I think they would have some very interesting stories to tell.
If you were PM, what would you do?This question really requires an essay in response, but I'll have to keep it short. Endeavour to establish an appropriate humanitarian response to our refugee crisis and examine funding models for the arts and arts education.
What is your pre-concert ritual?I always stretch thoroughly to avoid injury; it's just as important for musicians as for sports people!
Anna Colville, violaAnna has recently relocated back to Brisbane after several years living and performing in London. While in London she performed with prestigious orchestras and chamber ensembles, and toured throughout Europe and China. Highlights in London included performing on the BBC One Show, working with celebrity conductors on the BBC Maestro series, and performing with Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra. Since returning to Brisbane in 2014 she has been performing with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Camerata of St Johns', Revision Orchestra, and other freelance chamber ensembles. Before moving to London Anna was a member of Fyra String Quartet and the Sculthorpe Quartet, touring extensively in Queensland and NSW, premiering works by Peter Sculthorpe, Elena Kats-Chernin and Matthew Hindson and performing at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. Anna has a Master of Music Studies from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
What made you take up music?I come from a family of five children, and my mum started us all playing instruments (piano plus another) when we were 3 years old. Our family had two violinists, a violist, and a flautist. I remember our first piano teacher very well (Miss Margaret). She was almost part of the family! We all descended on her house each week, with one of us having lessons, the others playing out in the yard (or when my younger sisters were very little, crawling around under the piano). In another room was our violin/viola teacher (Claire) who we also had lessons with. Once my sisters and I were old enough we joined the Queensland Youth Orchestra and spent each Saturday at the Old Museum building discovering amazing music. This was where I became properly hooked on music! I have very vivid memories of playing amazing music in these groups (such as the Albinoni Adagio for Strings at age 8, Barber Violin Concerto, Shostakovich Symphony No. 10, and many, many more) and being absolutely awestruck at being able to be a small cog in a machine that was creating something really amazing.
What is the strangest thing that's happened to you in a concert?The strangest concert I have played in was 500m underground in a working mine. I was performing for the miners who had to go on a break to come and listen to us play in a cavern of the mine. The whole mine shut down while we were performing.
If you were PM, what would you do?Work toward a more equal society, where everyone has access to good healthcare and quality free education. I would also work to make Australia more compassionate on the world scale, more understanding of refugees and people suffering, both abroad and in our own country. Also, I would definitely move to improve the quality and independence of the Australian press, so that we could have proper, unbiased, un-inflammatory reporting on issues here and abroad. A well-run democracy needs a well-informed public.
What is your pre-concert ritual?A banana, and some 100% dark chocolate!
Elizabeth Lawrence, viola (Also known as: Elizabeth)Elizabeth plays the best instrument in the world - the viola. She completed her music and teaching degree on violin at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, but then decided that this really wasn't the instrument for her. Now she enjoys performing in many different places and in many different styles with Camerata of St John's. Elizabeth also enjoys performing in smaller chamber groups with friends in regional Queensland towns. When she isn't playing her instrument she teaches, or spends time with her husband and a rapidly growing herd of 8 cows.
What made you take up music?I don't remember not wanting to play the violin (until I took up viola!); it has been a part of my life since I was about 6 years old. Mum started me off on violin. Eventually I learned from Celia Egerton in Toowoomba. My earliest vivid music memory though, has nothing to do with the violin. I remember seeing a local production of the opera The Magic Flute by Mozart and being totally captivated by the story and the stunning music. I dreamed about being an opera singer for ages! I still love going to the opera for the same reasons, the storytelling and beautiful music.
What is the best piece of advice you can give a young musician?10 minutes of conscientious practice is better than none! This piece of advice still gets me through those days when I "can't be bothered". Try to see practice as an adventure. You never know what you will discover about the music until you actually take your instrument out.
What is the strangest/funniest/scariest thing that's happened to you in a concert?The strangest place I have performed is on a broken down bus beside the Warrago Highway at about midnight, on the way back from a Camerata concert! It was just before my final conservatorium exam and I wanted to give my concerto an "airing" in front of an audience.
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?I think I'd like to have dinner with William Wilberforce. He was one of the key figures behind the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire, and by the way, he also founded the RSPCA. I'd love to meet the man who was so driven to change wrongs that he saw in the world around him, and to get some inspiration myself.
If you were PM, what would you do?Appoint someone else!
Katherine Philp, cello (Also known as: Katarina)Katherine was born into a very musical family in the town of Murwillumbah in Northern NSW. After beginning cello studies at age 14 she moved to Brisbane to complete a Bachelor of Music, studying with Markus and Mei-Lee Stocker. Since then, she has developed an interesting and fulfilling freelance career playing variously in Camerata of St John's, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Kurilpa String Quartet, Musica Viva In Schools, playing as a soloist, playing as a guest in various bands, recording sessions, summer veranda jam sessions, appearing at folk and classical festivals around Australia, and most recently has been perfecting the art of playing Baa, Baa, Black Sheep on the guitar, accompanied by her two-year-old daughter on the descant recorder.
What made you take up music?I grew up in a very musical family. There was always someone playing on a piano, double bass, recorder, saxophone, singing songs, a jazz band practising on the veranda of our house in the bush. My siblings and I all played instruments for fun, and I first held a cello in my hands at age 11 when my sister had found one covered in cobwebs in the school store room and borrowed it for the weekend, to have a go. I loved the deep sounds, and had always enjoyed listening to cello concertos on our old crackly vinyl records, so from then on all I really wanted to do was to be a cellist! I couldn't begin formal lessons for a few years (until I grew enough to play the full size instruments in the high school store room) and there were no cello teachers living nearby, so when I had convinced my parents that I was serious about being a cellist they sent me to study with a wonderful teacher in Brisbane, Mei-Lee Stocker. I used to catch a bus, 3 hours each way to have my cello lessons, and after a year and a half of doing this I was accepted into the Queensland Conservatorium and moved to Brisbane to study full time. I love being a musician. I am constantly learning new skills and being challenged. Playing the cello is the way I connect with new people and explore ideas, and it fuels my motivation to travel to new places and learn about different cultures. Being a cellist is very hard work, but in the end it is a wonderfully rewarding job. I'm so glad my sister brought that cobwebby cello home that day!
What is the best piece of advice you can give a young musician?The best way to be a good musician is to always take up new opportunities to listen. Go to concerts, have fun sight reading through chamber music pieces with your friends, listen to music that isn't your style and think carefully about what makes it interesting. Be an explorer. Be open-minded. There is so much amazing music in the world, and the more you listen the better musician you will be. The second thing is, practice! Musicians always need to be searching for a better sound, smoother passages, more expression, more control, faster notes, slower bows, etcetera, etcetera. Put aside some time each day to get a little bit better at your instrument.
What is the strangest/funniest/scariest thing that's happened to you in a concert?I fell off my chair in the middle of a concert!! No joke!! I still haven't lived that one down.
Who is your favourite non-classical artist/musician/band?My favourite band is Radiohead. They are musical geniuses.
What are you listening to at the moment? What gets the most plays on your iPod?At the moment I'm listening to a lot of West African music, particularly Toumani Diabaté, a wonderful Kora (African harp) player. Also, Cat Power, Radiohead (always), Sharon Van Etten, Morton Feldman's Patterns in a Chromatic Field, Steve Reich, Doc Watson and, don't laugh, Dolly Parton, to name a few.
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?Oscar Wilde!
If you were PM, what would you do?I think a good society looks after and values its most vulnerable people. Homelessness, poverty and disability are all issues that our country is rich enough to address, but we don't go far enough in my opinion.
What is your pre-concert ritual?On the day of a concert I make sure I've played slowly through the entire program to make sure I have my head around all the tricky corners. Lately I've needed chocolate to help me concentrate. This is possibly turning into a ritual.
Shannon Tobin, cello (Also known as: Shan)Shannon has been a long time member of Camerata of St John's. She also performs with other music ensembles and orchestras such as the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Shannon studied overseas in Switzerland for three years and had the wonderful opportunity to perform in the Luzern Symphony Orchestra. She likes a diverse range of music and has played with ballet and musical companies, likes contemporary classical music, and in the car she listens to Triple J. Shannon also thoroughly enjoys teaching and is currently the Director of Instrumental Music at Clayfield College.
What made you take up music?I took a music aptitude test at my local state primary school and was offered a place in the string program. I was 10 when I started and Marcia Cox was my first teacher. Since then, I have been amazed at the places that music has taken me: Europe, Asia, and around Australia, performing in amazing venues with great programs. Music has provided me with so many opportunities that I would never have had in other fields
What other instrument/s do you wish you could play and why?Piano as it would be very helpful to my students when teaching but I don't seem to be co-ordinated enough to play two different lines with two hands.
What are you listening to at the moment? What gets the most plays on your iPod?A mix of artists including Lior, Michael Jackson, The Wombats, Birds of Tokyo, Muse.
Are you a cat or dog person?Dog, definitely dog!!!
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?Shostakovich.
What is your pre-concert ritual?Making sure I eat, I don't function without food. Warm up and then make sure I have all of my music and I am dressed for the concert. If the concert is in Toowoomba, I get in a pre-concert nap on the bus on the way there.
Marian Heckenberg, double bassMarian has always loved the double bass since they met when she was at school. Since then she has studied at universities here and overseas. She has performed all over the world and has met the most generous and interesting people and students in her travels.
What made you take up music?I was shown a bass at school when I was 12 and it was love at first sight. Marcia Cox was my first teacher. She was brilliant. It was very cool playing trio concerts in funky little venues with Lior and my violinist partner, Steve in Paris. It was also inspiring to play for the Pope in the Vatican.
What is the best piece of advice you can give a young musician?Open your ears and really listen, to yourself and others around you.
What is the strangest/funniest/scariest thing that's happened to you in a concert?My wooden endpin exploded on stage at the Noosa food and wine festival - very loudly into the microphone! It was shocking and embarrassing. I thought the stage had collapsed!
What other instrument/s do you wish you could play and why?Piano, it is so complete.
What are you listening to at the moment? What gets the most plays on your iPod?Hits from the 70's, I find the dance numbers great for exercising to!
Are you a cat or dog person?I am actually a dog trapped in a human's body so I guess I'm a dog person. I do love cats too but they never seem to love me.
If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?My Dad.
If you were PM, what would you do?Install solar panels on every roof in the country.
What is your pre-concert ritual?Tune, use the bathroom, tune, run over the tricky bits, tune, get anxious, tune, breath and relax, tune...again!
Alison Smith O’Connell
Alison Smith O’Connell