A Classical Note

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    A Classical Note: Sarah Ballard

    13.06.19 | Permalink | Comment? | By

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ‘A Classical Note’ is 8 quick Questions with Wellington Classical Musicians & Composers.

    A chance for us to catch up with people & see what they’re up to, or introduce you to a new musician/band and their music. Up next is composer Sarah Ballard.

     

    Who are you? Please tell us a bit about you and your music.
    My name is Sarah Ballard. I’m a composer. I’m really interested in using the qualities of instrumental sound to generate musical shape and structure. I’m also interested in exploring the potential for music’s ability to transport and uplift the listener. For the last few years, alongside completing a Doctor of Musical Arts in composition at Victoria University I’ve been living in a contemporary Vedic ashram learning the wisdom of the cream of the Sanskrit literatures and meditation. Since coming across this knowledge my music has been concerned with illustrating concepts from these texts. I was of the opinion before I came across these ancient texts that the intention of the composer/musician can be transferred from the consciousness of the creator, through the material sound-medium and to the consciousness of the listener. The texts that I study state that this is indeed the case. I find this fascinating, and I’m excited to embark on a journey of elevating my consciousness and sharing this with others through music.

    What pieces of music have you been working on or playing lately?
    I’m just finishing a string quartet called Acintya, which means ‘inconceivable’ in Sanskrit. It refers to that which is inconceivable to us through our present material senses. Previous to this I wrote a piece called Paramātmā for the Wellington-based new music ensemble Stroma and a quartet of monks on various Indian instruments. This piece sets texts from the prime yoga text the Bhagavad Gītā. It is much more reflective of my music currently and represents one of the directions I would like to take with my music.

    SARAH BALLARD: Synergos from SOUNZ on Vimeo.

    Do you have any favourite pieces of music you enjoy playing?
    I love kirtana – call and response Sanskrit mantras set to music. I particularly enjoy singing the maha mantra. Maha means ‘great’ and mantra is made up of two Sanskrit words – ‘man’ coming from ‘manas’ – the mind and ‘tra’ from trāyate, which means ‘to free’. So, it is the greatest means by which to free the mind. Ancient texts state that this mantra holds the potency of all other mantras combined, and the results certainly speak for themselves throughout the community of experienced bhakti practitioners. Kirtana never fails to satisfy the heart.

    Do you have any favourite composers? Can you recommend any NZ composers whose work you like?
    Olga Neuwirth and Georges Ligeti are two that really stand out for me. I sense a strong creative empowerment in these composers. There are so many wonderful composers here in New Zealand. Two I can particularly relate to musically and conceptually at the moment are Salina Fisher and Michael Norris (not being biased or trying to score points because he is my current teacher!) There is a great diversity, so many voices. It makes our small community very strong collectively.

    What were the 3 most influential pieces of music to you growing up?
    I’m slightly embarrassed to admit Uematsu’s Final Fantasy VII theme, Chopin’s Fantasy Impromptu and Holst’s The Planets. I have always been into sci-fi/fantasy worlds. The Vedic texts I’ve been studying, particularly the 12-volume Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the pinnacle and source of all fantastical themes imaginable that are permeated all through popular culture so I was elated to learn that my affinity for these fantastical concepts have a strong basis in reality after all. Everything that exists here on the temporary material platform is simply a distorted reflection of what exists in its permanent state on the transcendental platform.

    Where is the best place people can follow you & find your music?
    https://soundcloud.com/sarah-ballard

    Where/when is your next performance?
    I’ll be taking part in the annual Nelson Composers Workshop in July where I will get the chance to work with some accomplished players on my recent string quartet. When I complete my studies at Victoria I’ll be performing a lot more at Bhakti Lounge in Wellington singing kirtana with the harmonium and karatalas and I also hope to start learning some traditional Sanskrit songs. The Bhakti Lounge space is very special. When I first set foot in that place I knew I’d returned home. It was what I’d always been searching for through my music. There was an immediate connection with the energy there. It is like stepping into another world. That is a common experience for many people who go there. So come along to a Sunday soul feast sometime and join me for kirtana!


     


  • General

    A Classical Note: Michelle Velvin

    17.05.19 | Permalink | Comment? | By

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ‘A Classical Note’ is 8 quick Questions with Wellington Classical Musicians & Composers.

    A chance for us to catch up with people & see what they’re up to, or introduce you to a new musician/band and their music. Alistair recently interviewed Michelle Velvin, a Wellington based harpist, composer and teacher. Michelle has a special interest in writing harp music and performing New Zealand compositions, and is is also interested in exploring new and unexpected sonic landscapes through collaborative musical and artistic experiences. Her harp performances have figured in a diverse range of music, from experimental to Jazz to Classical, most recently in the Live At The Museum series in Auckland with Mara TK and Hollie Smith.

     

    Who are you? Please tell us a bit about you and your background in music.
    I completed A Postgraduate Diploma in harp performance, with distinction, at Te Kōkī, New Zealand School of Music in 2015, under Carolyn Mills, as well as a Bmus in Classical Performance and Instrumental/vocal composition in 2014. I’ve performed as part of all of New Zealand’s major orchestras, and am involved with many chamber music ensembles, including Stroma new music ensemble, Duo ‘VAARP’, with violinist Laura Barton, the NZ Harp Duo, with Jennifer Newth and Duo Eolienne, with Genevieve Davidson (saxophone). In July 2016, I was accepted to attend the Catrin Finch Harp Academy in Cardiff, Wales, where i performed in masterclasses with both Catrin Finch and Elinor Bennett. In 2015 I was the winner of the NZ Performance Harp Competition and created the Wellington Harp Orchestra. In 2015 I had my composition for harp ensemble Under Watchful Eyes, performed at the week long Auckland Harpenz festival. I’ve also recorded for New Zealand Singer/Songwriter Dudley Benson’s new album, Zealandia.

    What pieces of music have you been working on or playing lately?
    Lately I have been working on a mix of solo, chamber music and orchestra pieces. Two of the solo harp pieces are by NZ composers: Autumn Arabesque, by Kenneth Young and Poco Lento and Study for harp, by Douglas Lilburn. I have also been exploring new saxophone and harp music through my ensemble Duo Eolienne (myself and Genevieve Davidson). One of the pieces we are preparing is Andy Scott’s Sonata for saxophone and harp. A fantastic piece of music which really showcases both instruments!

    Do you have any favourite pieces of music you enjoy playing?
    The short answer is yes, but I have too many to list! (I love playing everything that I gave mentioned above as a start.) What I do love most is when I have time to sit at the harp and improvise and write my own music, or to do the same but with other musicians.

    Do you have any favourite composers? Can you recommend any NZ composers whose work you like?
    Some favourite NZ composers: Gareth Farr, Kenneth Young, Sarah Ballard, Glen Downie, Jack Body, just to name a few. Other composers I enjoy listening to/like to play: Britten, Alan Hovhaness, Ravel, Debussy, Bartok, Andy Scott, Tchaikovsky…

    What were the 3 most influential pieces of music to you growing up?
    I can’t name three particular pieces, but there are two completely different musical memories that stand out.
    No. 1: Any sacred music sung in a cathedral holds a special place for me in terms of influence. Being in such a responsive space comes with so many overtones of memory and experiences, as I used to sing as a chorister in Wellington Cathedral as a child.
    No. 2: I used to listen over and over to a tape recording of Roger Whittaker singing. I just liked his whistling and his voice a lot.

    Where is the best place people can follow you & find your music?
    Through my Facebook / Instagram pages and my Website.

    What are your favourite venues in NZ to play in?
    To name a few, I love performing in Futuna Chapel in Karori, Auckland Town Hall, Dunedin Town Hall, St Paul’s Cathedral Wellington…

    Where/when is your next performance?
    18 May – Duo Eolienne (saxophone/harp) play at Southern Cross Garden Bar (4pm – 6pm)
    18 May – Years Gone By, Wgtn, 8:30pm, Meow, Edward St, Wellington


  • General

    A Classical Note: Yuka Eguchi

    26.04.19 | Permalink | Comment? | By

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ‘A Classical Note’ is 8 quick Questions with Wellington Classical Musicians & Composers.

    A chance for us to catch up with people & see what they’re up to, or introduce you to a new musician/band and their music.

    Today’s guest is NZSO violin player Yuka Eguchi.

     

    Who are you? Please tell us a bit about you and your background in music:
    I am a violin player and an assistant concertmaster of New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. I graduated from Toho high school in Tokyo, and Indiana University in US. I won 1st prize at the 55th Japan Music Competition, and in 1993 3rd prize at the Paganini International violin competition.

    What pieces of music have you been working on or playing lately?
    I have been working on Elgar’s Enigma Variations. And will soon practice Star Wars!!!!!

    Do you have any favourite pieces of music you enjoy playing? What’s your favourite music related book?
    Music: Each time when I have a concert, the program pieces are my favorite.
    Book: Song of the Birds by Pablo Casals.

    Do you have any favourite composers? Can you recommend any NZ composers whose work you like?
    Salina Fisher.
    Tabea Squire.

     

    What were the 3 most influential pieces of music to you growing up?
    Sarasate ; Zigeunerweisen (Wiki/YouTube)
    Berg ; violin concerto (Wiki/YouTube)
    Wagner ; Siegfried Idyll (Wiki/Library Collection/YouTube)

    Where is the best place people can follow you & find your music?
    MFC

    What are your favourite venues in NZ to play in?
    Auckland Town Hall

    Where/when is your next performance?
    STAR WARS: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert – Wellington.