Written by Julia Hastings
Behind the scenes takes on a whole new meaning for me this year. On Thursday, June 18th at 6.00pm, you will quite literally see me emerge from behind the scenes and onto centre stage, presenting the life and music of Eileen Joyce in an original one woman show-come-recital. Theatre has always been a large part of my life (as a young teenager I dreamt of a career on Broadway, and I can’t deny that this dream still partially exists!), so when Jacinta Dennett (ANAM Faculty, Head of Harp) suggested to me that I weave a bit of storytelling into my recital this year, I was excited by the possibilities. It seemed like a natural progression and a perfect opportunity for me to reignite my love of acting by devising a piece of theatre that incorporates my recital repertoire!
Eileen Joyce was one of Australia’s most dazzling musical exports in the first half of the twentieth century. After being ‘discovered’ by Percy Grainger at a boarding school in Perth in the 1920s, she went on to study under eminent teachers of the day in Germany and London and established herself as a pianist of dazzling virtuosity and charm. However, maintaining a worldwide career of megastar proportions is not always glitz and glamour. Eileen’s personal and professional life was plagued by demons, which has made her a fascinating and at times, confronting figure to investigate.
The greatest challenge for me in writing this piece has been ‘getting inside’ Eileen’s head. The biographical information available is plentiful, but finding Eileen’s ‘voice’ and getting a sense of her personality has not been easy. She was a very private person, estranged from most of her family in later life, and very few documents authored by Eileen herself exist. Consequently, I have carefully examined the available facts and have used some artistic licence to fill in the gaps. The result is an interesting and thought provoking piece of original theatre centred round piano repertoire which became the soundtrack to Eileen’s life.
Eileen Joyce championed piano repertoire mostly from the Classical and Romantic periods and some of the music to be performed will include gems such as Granados’ The Maiden and the Nightingale, Chopin’s Berceuse, Liszt’s Gnomenreigen and Mozart’s Sonata in F major K332.
One of the challenges has been to weave the theatrical monologues of Eileen’s life into the program of music to tell a succinct story and to fit the total production into the time constraints of an ANAM recital. Eileen’s life had many twists and turns, and it has been difficult to condense the dramatic component yet still do justice to her story. Hopefully Fame Fortune and Lies will capture the essence of Eileen’s individuality and amazing pianism as well as bring one of Australia’s best loved pianists back into the spotlight.
As well as writing the dramatic component of the show, I have designed the set and had a lot of fun in sourcing props and costumes. I am grateful to Les Dickinson and the ANAM operations for taking on the challenge of helping me to produce and stage this production and to ANAM for being so open minded and allowing my recital to follow such an unusual path.
Born in Warragul, Victoria, Julia began piano studies at the age of six. In 2013, Julia completed a Bachelor of Music (Honours) at the University of Melbourne under the guidance of Anna Goldsworthy and Ronald Farren-Price. Whilst completing her undergraduate studies, Julia was the recipient of many Faculty prizes and scholarships, most notably the John Hellyar Piano Scholarship (2011), the Gardiner Piano Scholarship (2010) and the Athenaeum Chamber Music Prize (2012). 2015 will be Julia’s second year at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) studying with Timothy Young.
Thursday 18 June, 6pm:
GRANADOS Quejas ó la Maya y el Ruiseñor
SCHUMANN Widmung for solo piano
MOZART Piano Sonata in F major, K332
LISZT 2 Concert Etudes for piano S145
ANAM, South Melbourne Town Hall
210 Bank Street, South Melbourne