Last day to enter ABC Classic FM and Musica Viva’s Classic Recorder Romp!
How did the idea for the Classic Recorder Romp competition for school ensembles and community groups come about?
It was something that Musica Viva and the ABC creatively concocted, and I’m very happy to have been threaded in.
What’s special to you about kids playing in a recorder ensemble?
It’s a wonderful social and musical experience. There’s nothing like playing in an ensemble from an early age to teach you a great deal about people, teams, listening, working together, empathy, patience, discipline. And of course it’s a huge amount of fun.
Is that how you started out?
I played with a quartet from an early age, and those friends are still very dear to me. We grew up and discovered so many things together.
What was your favourite piece to play on recorder as a child?
I loved an 18th-century set of variations on Greensleeves. I still love them, and that tune.
And what about today? You’ve commissioned so much music for your instrument.
Each new piece has its own joys and challenges – a really good piece teaches you a huge amount, both technically and musically. It’s essential to work with composers to create new repertoire for the instrument. That keeps the instrument and the artform alive.
Why is the recorder so useful as a tool to get kids into music more generally, yet so often vanishes from their skill set as they take up other instruments?
It’s a great place to begin as you can get a long way quite quickly, so children can play some beautiful music very fast, which is a wonderful way to encourage them to continue. It’s certainly seen as daggy, though. I’m fine with that, and always have been, which I’m sure confirms my own dagginess! Most things that are outside popular culture or sport in Australia are quickly written off: we don’t have a lot of time or sympathy for people who make their own paths.
So is it inevitable that parents put their foot down and say, “play something else”?
Parents and teachers often encourage children to leave recorder behind for instruments that have a more obvious trajectory, better known repertoire, and some hope of a job. That’s very understandable. Trying to make a life as a freelance recorder player is unbelievably precarious. But there are many passionate, skilled teachers in Australia, and more people than you would imagine have a love for the instrument.
What are you hoping entrants will get out of the Recorder Romp? How many amateur recorder groups do you think might be kicking around in Australia?
I hope that it will encourage people to make music together, to be proud and delighted about what they can achieve, and to know that there is a large community of players in Australia. I have no idea how many ensembles there might be, but on my travels I meet many passionate, intelligent musicians of all ages, who play the recorder regularly in ensembles.
What’s your advice to a young recorder player?
Just play if you love it!
You are a featured soloist with Concerto Copenhagen in Musica Viva’s nationwide tour. Have you worked with the ensemble before?
They haven’t arrived in Australia, and we’ve never worked together, but I know Lars Ulrik, the artistic director, and [Australian bassoonist] Jane Gower, the other soloist well, and I love playing with them. I know the ensemble’s recordings and admire them hugely. Also, I spent years studying in Denmark, so I have an affinity for that language and culture, so I can’t wait for it all to begin.