Meet Tafelmusik’s Alison Mackay

What is your role in the creation of the Galileo Project?

I’ve been playing the double bass with Tafelmusik since 1980 or so. Every year or two I’m lucky enough to be assigned a special project, working with the orchestra to put our core repertoire in a new context. In the case of the Galileo Project, I wrote a script, and working closely with our music director Jeanne, chose music to weave together with the narration. Then I worked together as part of a team with our designers and stage director to develop the visual aspects of the show.

How has the Galileo Project changed since it was first performed in 2009?

The excitement of playing the concert from memory hasn’t dissipated but the sheer terror has! We’ve performed the concert so many times now that the music is getting more imbedded. When we come to play in Australia we will have just premiered a new memorized project, so our first Australian concerts will be a good test. We also adapt the concert in small ways to reflect the country in which we’re performing.

How has the performance been adapted for Australia?

We’ll be introducing a few southern hemisphere images and a short reading from Ray Norris’s fascinating work on Aboriginal astronomy, Emu Dreaming. Our Canadian astronomical advisors have close colleagues in the scientific community in Australia. We are looking forward so much to meeting some of these friends and learning about the southern sky from them.

This is as much a piece of theatre as a concert. What challenges has this presented for the musicians?

We’ve definitely entered a new world of thinking about how we move and interact with each other on stage. Being freed from music stands has allowed us to experiment playing right out in the audience. Learning to walk and even climb steps while playing didn’t feel too easy at first! Of course I get off easy playing the double bass and pretty much have to stay put.

What was the first record you ever brought?

It’s a bit lost in the mists of time but I think it was a Bob Dylan LP.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I’m sorry to be so dull but I’m listening to nothing but the in-house recording we’ve made to help us memorize the music for our new project, “House of Dreams”.

We are all unbelievably excited to be making our first trip to Australia and can’t wait to arrive!

Alison Mackay during a performance of The Galileo Project


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About Musica Viva Australia

Welcome to Musica Viva’s International Concert Season blog. Here you can follow and read more about our wonderful touring artists.

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