Karin Schaupp interview part 1
Karin Schaupp was four years old when her grandmother, Lieselotte Reinke, gave her her first guitar. It is a common enough kind of story. But in Schaupp’s case, the tale has unexpected twists. Four years later, she and her family moved from Germany to Australia. Three years after that, she gave her first public performance with an orchestra. Within a further six years, she had launched an impressive solo career. And after two decades of professional success as a musician, Schaupp took her first steps on stage in a different profession – as an actor. She was her grandmother Lieselotte, her mother Isolde, and herself, in the play David Williamson had written for her, Lotte’s Gift.
In this tour, she will speak as well as playing, sharing with her colleague Pavel Steidl the introductions to a program portraying the history of the guitar. ‘I feel comfortable with words,’ Schaupp says. ‘I would have to say probably as comfortable as I do in music.’
Her work on Williamson’s play included intensive acting study that influenced not only how she now feels about speaking on stage, but also, she says, the way she plays. ‘When you act with words, it’s instantly obvious to everybody in the audience if even for one sentence you don’t mean it. In instrumental music, that translates to every note. As an actor, you can’t hide. You can’t keep some of yourself back. That has had a huge effect on the way that I play.’
As a musician today, Schaupp admits that she lives dangerously. ‘Look, I think life’s too short to be not taking risks,’ she says. ‘I mean that in terms of going to the edge of your technical ability, but also in terms of being able to bare your soul and have the kind of complete abandon we all recognise when we see it on stage.’
There is one other guitarist in the world who for Schaupp embodies these qualities. When Musica Viva invited her to nominate the duo partner of her choice for the tour, Schaupp did not hesitate. ‘I had attended Pavel Steidl’s concerts,’ she explains. ‘I was of course completely awe-struck. He has incredible technique, incredible sophistication in terms of what he can do, but much more than that, he really plays from the soul. His sense of colour is incredible, and he’s flamboyant in the best possible sense. But then I have to say my next thought was, ‘Wow! I wish I could play with him one day.’ I had an intuitive certainty that we would connect very strongly.’
Shirley Apthorp © 2012