Jessica Gethin and Andrew Doyle will receive funding to undertake projects overseas.

Conductor Jessica Gethin and clarinettist Andrew Doyle have been awarded Fellowships by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust in 2016. Both musicians will receive funding to undertake  designated projects overseas. The highly competitive grants allow Australian citzens from across the country to investigate a topic that they are passionate about, bringing their newly acquired knowledge and skills back to Australia.

“I’m very keen to get started on my project,” Gethin told Limelight. “I’ve had a clear vision of what I wanted to do for a while, however being able to carry this out with the Churchill Fellowship’s support makes it instantly achievable and accessible, particularly as it involves seeking international mentoring.”

Conductor Jessica Gethin, photo © Karen Almond

The conductor’s project will take her to the USA and the UK. “I devised my Fellowship to address a number of key elements I believe are now essential for conductors to develop when in a leadership position of any arts organisation,” she said. “My project ranges from the creative aspects of rehearsal observation and international mentoring from Chief Conductors, to interviewing heads of programming on innovation and audience engagement, to looking at the various levels of the role of a conductor in the different halls and houses including The Met, Covent Garden, NY Philharmonic, London Philharmonic when it comes to audience, board and donor interaction. Each organisation operates differently around the globe and I’m very interested to see what models I can learn from that will most impact the work of Australian conductors working within Australia.”

For Gethin, the project is coming at an important time. “I feel this is a really crucial time for the Australian arts industry,” she said. “My position as a conductor means I spend a lot of time looking at both how our audiences develop, how our industry is sustained and how the organisations currently exist, under a variety of leadership and funding sources. I am passionate about fostering future Australian leaders who can work within Australia, and hope that this project will provide some insight into this by defining these roles.”

“International mentoring from a global perspective is key at this stage of my career, as I have spent many years developing my skills on the podium in Australia,” Gethin said. “I am looking forward to creating a network of mentors and contacts in the industry that I can build a relationship with over the coming years.”

Clarinettist Andrew Doyle

Clarinettist Andrew Doyle will be undertaking a very different project. “I’m incredibly excited about this amazing opportunity,” said Doyle, who will be travelling to Cambridge to learn how to make 18th-century period clarinets with Cambridge Woodwind Makers. “I am hoping to learn the necessary skills and tools required to make early clarinets, to bring home and set up a workshop making these instruments locally.” 

Doyle aims to fill a gap he has encountered in the Australian music scene. “Whilst the Historically Informed Performance movement in Australia has some of the world’s leading musicians at the helm, and is only getting stronger and stronger,” he said, “there are only half a dozen early clarinet players in the country. Amongst these players are Nicole van Bruggen (Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra) and Craig Hill (Australian Brandenburg Orchestra) as well as other great players. However, due to a lack of early clarinets in the tertiary musical institutions, in order for future students to gain experience playing these clarinets, they need to head overseas.” 

“When I began learning early clarinet, I emailed as many early clarinettists and clarinet makers as I could Google, and bought second-hand instruments that I had never tested,” said Doyle. “I will bring back the skills I learn overseas to set up a workshop and make these instruments locally, using local materials, to enable Australian clarinettists to discover the amazing character of these instruments at a fraction of the cost (or risk) that is currently required.”

Doyle is Principal Clarinet with The Metropolitan Orchestra in Sydney – with whom he recently performed Elena Kats-Chernin’s concerto for basset clarinet – and Clarinet Soloist and Section Leader with the Royal Australian Navy Band. This project, however, will open up new avenues for Doyle. “I currently play classical chamber music with like minded colleagues in my ensemble Classicum Australis,” he said, “and would love nothing more than to play this music on my own instruments. We plan to pursue a great deal of workshopping and exposure of these instruments to future musicians, and by being able to create these instruments from scratch, my career will take a new direction, and I can pass this knowledge on to younger Australian clarinettists to build a legacy of performing classical music on Classical instruments, taking our great musical talents to the world.”

The Full List of 2016 Churchill Fellows