With the launch of the ANAM Alumni Program coming soon, let us introduce you to three very different members of our Alumni Network, tied together by one interesting fact. They were the three finalists of the prestigious 2016 Freedman Classical Fellowship.
Possessing a poise and maturity way beyond her years, Stefanie Farrands (viola, 2008) is articulate and considered as she reflects upon her time in Berlin, moving home to Australia to join the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra as Principal Violist, and the opportunities now afforded to her after winning the 2016 Freedman Classical Fellowship.
‘Winning the Fellowship has brought a dream of mine to life’ she states. Taking home the Freedman last September will result in the opportunity to be part of the creative process of commissioning works for the viola by Australian composers. These works will be performed and recorded both at home and abroad, and will offer Stefanie the chance to collaborate with Brett Dean in Berlin, ‘which is a city that holds a very special place in my heart’.
Stefanie is well aware of the impact that these works will have for other violists. ‘I feel honoured to be able to do this for the viola… being able to hold a brand new set of commissions that I have helped to mould for future musicians to have access to’.
However this is, no doubt, only a small part of the incredible musical legacy Stefanie will set for the Australian and international music scene. She was a founding member of the Hamer Quartet during her final year of secondary school, and by the age of 28, has already performed with several renowned international orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Camerata Salzburg. In Australia she is a regular guest with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australian World Orchestra and is a core member of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra.
Such is her drive, talent and passion, Stefanie was one of very few musicians to have been accepted into ANAM straight from school. She then went on to study and work in Berlin for 5 years, undertaking tutelage with renowned Violist Tabea Zimmermann at the Hochschule für Musik, Hanns Eisler Berlin. She talks fondly of her time there, and the wonders of the German musical scene. ‘It is closely connected to the history of the country, the language and the culture. I play music differently because I had this experience’.
In 2015, Stefanie applied for the position of Principal Violist with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, a chair that had been held by her predecessor for almost 30 years. She had mixed emotions about returning to Australia, leaving behind incredible musicians and friends in Berlin, but is thrilled to now be living in a place with a mix of high culture and stunning nature. There are just so many things to love about Tasmania. ‘Working in a small orchestra full of skilled musicians, the mountains, the air, the beaches and the wildlife. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I do and live in such an incredible place. It pushes me to dream and discover’.
For Stefanie, her time at ANAM will never leave her. Her fondest memories were having the opportunity to be involved in master classes with some of the greatest String Quartets from around the world including the Borodin Quartet, Arditti Quartet, Tokyo Quartet, Artemis Quartet and Jerusalem Quartet. ‘It means a lot to me to have studied at such an incredible place with such wonderful musicians. ANAM gave me a wealth of opportunities and support which I couldn’t have received elsewhere’.
Kaylie Melville (percussion, 2015)
For Kaylie Melville (percussion, 2015), her three years in the Professional Performance Program at ANAM was her springboard into the global creative fraternity of percussion in 2016, brimming with enthusiasm, confidence and talent.
There were very few avenues for percussionists before 2013, when ANAM launched its new Faculty under Peter Neville. Among the first through the door, Kaylie was a perfect match to ANAM’s ethos. Three years later seizing opportunities is second nature.
Kaylie wishes her future career to continue surprising her with wonderful discoveries. It was certainly a surprise to learn just how much admin freelancers have to take on but Kaylie notes that she doesn’t really mind the administration as it’s often a great chance to reflect on her practice. She quite likes being involved in all the behind-the-scenes aspects of music-making.
Kaylie’s fraternity is rather special: repertoire less than a hundred years old, thirsting for new music, populated as much by composers as performers, exploratory, experimenting with new sounds, music often abstract yet melodic, harmonious, richly rhythmic. A percussionist asks, ‘Can I make music with this?’ ‘With matchsticks, flourescent light tubes?’ ‘Yes, I can. I’ll show you.’ To say she loves it is an understatement.
As a percussionist, Kaylie doesn’t play an instrument but an orchestra. Her performances aren’t only music, they can be soundscapes, theatrical, symbolic, physical, even athletic, visual. Her canvas is vast and multi-dimensional. How does a young musician find her place in this world? Kaylie holds in her mind a concept learned at So Percussion’s Summer Institute at Princeton University back in 2013: a family tree of music, composers and musicians. She seeks along the relationships, sharing her dreams confident she will find support and her very own place among the branches of this welcoming, lively, family.
In practical terms, planning your own program of solo and ensemble concerts with so much variety at your disposal and opportunities beckoning is complex artistically and logistically. Typically, several months are needed to plan a new ensemble piece. New opportunities must fit in with set pieces and travel plans. Instruments are expensive, some bulky, needing a lot of space. Percussionists frequently hire or borrow. Networking is vital at many levels. The US based Percussive Arts Society is international and, in Australia, Facebook offers her at least three closed groups: Australia-wide, Victorians and Gen Y!
What Kaylie calls her ‘secret’ degree is in English and French literature, specialising in Shakespeare. It gave her a taste for research, indulged again in her performance masters degree at Melbourne University, to inform her interpretation, staging and performances. She might have become a musicologist but for that door to ANAM opening in 2013. Now research also informs her communication with her audiences. Especially if unaccustomed to the novel music and sounds of percussion, audiences welcome her coming out from behind her instruments to talk directly to them. Research essentially informs her business communications: vital funding applications, a biography tailored to each opportunity – funds from her scholarship awards support her current trip.
Kaylie has the ability to introduce audiences to a new world. That is what she does as a percussionist, a guide.
Brisbane pianist Alex Raineri went through the Professional Performance Program (PPP) at ANAM from 2014 to 2015 and followed seemlessly into a Fellowship in 2016. Eschewing the normal path of school-university/conservatory-career, Alex started performing professionally at age 14. He had a fairly clear idea of what he wanted to achieve in the PPP and then his fellowship project. And this shows in the way he manages his career now. At the core, is his artistic integrity and musical ability as a soloist and ensemble player. His professionalism shines through his public persona and is underpinned by business activities – the essential but sometimes tedious things you have to do to sustain the life force at the heart.
ANAM gave him the space and safe environment he sought to practice to develop his performing skills and to experiment, to take risks. Once fully professional you fight for these. What else from ANAM? Preparing and performing with artists at the top of their game, who form a steady stream of visitors is a distinctive feature and rich, fertile ground. Subsequently it can seed your network, an essential asset to any small business. It is different from socialising, another rich benefit from ANAM, inspiring friendships and joy in music making that endure long afterwards. Networking is key to growing as a professional musician, requiring investment and conscious strategy: a profile, channels of communication, presence, access. You know it is worthwhile when the opportunities start coming to you, as Alex is finding. His advice to students: ‘Be nice’ and ‘Practice, practice, practice while you can.’
His core interest in contemporary music took him to Graz, Austria, in February for the 10th International Ensemble and Composers Academy for Contemporary Music run by Impuls. For him it was an excellent opportunity to meet and to work with leading composers and performers in creating music in this moment and for future moments. Contrary to what one might expect, he finds that placing contemporary music at the core of his practice is a sought after distinction, generating enquiries.
The ANAM network bore fruit and he skipped to UK for lessons with Kathryn Stott (Director of the Australian Chamber Music Festival from 2018) and Imogen Cooper (returning to Australia in August).
Not short of humour, Alex is an intellectual musician. His doctorate at Griffith University continues and much of his performance program centres on projects with themes, such as the 2017 series ‘Words Fail’ with his own group, Kupka’s Piano, ensemble-in-residence at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts from 2013. The program explores communication when words fail and, like most of Kupa’s programs, features new commissions. They will perform an adaptation of Samuel Backett’s play, ‘Words and Music’ with a score by Morton Feldman in the Queensland Music Festival this July.
Next year Alex will build a performance program around his doctorate – always seeking synergy. His Michael Kieran Harvey scholarship enabled him to hire the Eugene Goossens Hall to record two CDs, one classical/romantic, the other contemporary including a work he has commissioned from James Ledger. These will be central to his network presenting Alex Raineri the pianist.
Written by Peter Gardner and Belinda Ashe