We ask the winner of this year’s ABC Young Performers Award about her musical start in life.
BORN SYDNEY, 1998
EDUCATED ABBOTSLEIGH SCHOOL, SYDNEY
LIKES CHAMBER MUSIC
What does winning this year’s ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Award mean to you?
Just being part of the competition was the most important thing, because I had the opportunity to perform a lot of varied repertoire and to play a concerto with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in the final round. It was my first opportunity to play with a professional orchestra and work with a conductor of the calibre of Christopher Seaman. I learnt so much from that experience – and winning was just a wonderful bonus.
How did you start playing the violin?
My brother Jack, who is six years older than me, started learning when I was a baby. I suppose I just grew up with the beautiful sound of the violin and wanted to be like him. I was begging for a violin of my own from the age of two but my parents, who are not musicians, thought that I should learn the cello. I was, and still am, a very determined person and would not give up until my parents gave me a violin for Christmas when I was four and a half. I started studying the Suzuki Method with Katie Betts soon after.
Who has been your biggest inspiration from your personal life?
Definitely my teacher Dr Robin Wilson. He is not only a wonderful musician, he’s an incredible role model as a person. His knowledge of music is exceptional and his intellectual approach to teaching inspired me to develop the necessary technique and to expand my knowledge of composers and styles of playing. He also encouraged my individual response to the music and had a way of always giving me hope that I would improve. As a person, Robin is very generous with his time and energy and always had a very fine and respectful way of dealing with people.
What pieces did you choose to play in the competition, and why?
For the concerto round I played the Beethoven Violin Concerto which has long been one of my favourites because it is so lyrical and majestic. I don’t think I will ever tire of it or be completely satisfied with the way that I play it.
You won the prize for Best Performance of an Australian Piece in the Chamber Music round of the 2013 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards. What did you play and why did you choose it?
My teacher and I chose Soliloquy by Wilfred Lehmann, who is not only a composer but one of Australia’s most accomplished violinists. He is in his 80s now and is still teaching and composing and very sharp. He suggested some changes that really improved the way I was playing. It was my first time working with a living composer and it was a great experience.
Who would you consider your musical role models?
I am a huge admirer of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. The musicians are passionate and adventurous – and of course beautiful players. I also love the playing of Leonidas Kavakos, Gidon Kremer and Maxim Vengerov. They are all wonderful storytellers and produce an exquisite range of tone colours. I also love Steven Isserlis, Glenn Gould and Andreas Scholl.
Do you intend to study in Australia or will you look to go abroad?
I have just commenced studying at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and my degree will take at least four years because I am finishing high school as well. It has been a very difficult decision to leave Australia but there are certain educational opportunities that are not available to me at home.
What music are you working on at the moment?
I have two violin teachers at Curtis, Joseph Silverstein and Ida Kavafian and they each give me different repertoire. I am currently playing the Dvorˇák Violin Concerto, Bach B Minor Partita, Mozart Sonata in B Flat and the Ysäye Solo Sonata No 4.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
The nature of music is very unpredictable but the one thing that I am certain of is that I never want to stop playing chamber music because that is the ultimate form. I want to be not just a violinist, but also a musician and a well-rounded person, knowledgeable about the world and engaged in it.