You have been with the Australian Chamber Orchestra for nearly 17 years now. What continues to inspire you?
The music making. The detail, musical integrity and diligence that the ACO puts into every rehearsal and performance – be it playing a Beethoven symphony or a piece by a contemporary composer – has always been, and continues to be, inspiring and musically fulfilling. I also greatly value the way in which the ACO shares our music with our audiences which, hopefully, inspires them in turn.
The ACO’s Arvo Pärt & Shostakovich concert features works by composers who experienced the brutality of government regimes. What do you hope that the audience takes away from the experience?
I hope our audiences come away with an appreciation of the different forms of beauty that can be found in this music, even considering the circumstances under which it was composed. These are composers who are heavily associated with their political contexts. However I’m not always drawn to politicising art as it can become a slippery slope – do we say political art has more value than non-political art? That’s not something I subscribe to, particularly as it can be very difficult for us to know exactly what these composers were thinking or feeling. With Shostakovich for example, of course there is terrible horror there but his music has enormous value without having to know the entirety of his political background.
You will be performing Pärt’s Tabula Rasa. Is it a piece you know well?
I’ve never performed [Pärt’s] work before, so I’m looking forward to playing it for the first time. When you approach his music as a player, you’re not so much interpreting the music as you are becoming part of the experience yourself.
You’ll also be playing Prokofiev’s Sonata for Solo Violin alongside nine other violinists of the ACO?
Prokofiev actually wrote this piece to be played by student violinists in unison. I think I might have played it this way myself when I was a student! I hope that it expresses a feeling of camaraderie amongst we violinists on stage, particularly in the march of the first movement – maybe we should even wear uniforms!
What other musical avenues are you looking forward to exploring in 2020?
I’m looking forward to exploring how audiences will respond to some of this music in a 2020 context, particularly if they’ve heard us perform it in the past.
The ACO’s Arvo Pärt & Shostakovich program tours nationally, March 19 – April 1