In Conversation: Elizabeth Sellars

In Conversation: Elizabeth Sellars

Soloist, teacher and chamber musician Elizabeth Sellars on the importance of masterclasses.

In Conversation: Elizabeth Sellars

Soloist, teacher and chamber musician Elizabeth Sellars on the importance of masterclasses.

The 2018 Chamber Music Festival at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music celebrates local artists through a series of masterclasses and performances. Can you talk us through some of the highlights for you personally?
 
I am incredibly excited to be playing with two amazing musicians - cellist Svetlana Bogoslavjevic and pianist Ian Munro in a performance of a work called Space Jump by Turkish composer Fazil Say. Space Jump illustrates skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s spectacular jump from the stratosphere to earth and is a wonderful voyage for the listener. Other highlights include Resphigi's Violin and Piano Sonata, the Galina Ustvolskaya trio, a Beethoven Quartet and Roger Heagney Songs just to name a few! 

Master classes are an important part of the development and learning process for students of all levels and the upcoming festival features a broad range of these opportunities. When you give master classes, as you will do for string students, what do you like to discuss and work on considering the short amount of time participants are given?

Masterclasses can be great opportunities to explore musical characterisation and interpretive ideas. Sometimes I comment on ways of approaching postural and technical issues if I think it may be of use. I have a special interest in using the body well and efficiently! 
 
For students interested in participating in these classes as performers, how do you recommend they best prepare? 

Treat the masterclasses as a performance, tell your story, and always remain open to new information even if it is different to what you have already been told. One of the joys of learning a musical instrument is the understanding that there are multiple approaches to sound, phrasing and interpretation.  
 
On the other side of the master class equation, what is the value of attending as an auditor? Can you get just as much out of the process as an audience member as you can as a performer?

Watching masterclasses is a time-honoured way of learning for all musicians and audiences! I love watching other teachers as each musician is unique and brings their own language, perspective and imagination to musical problem-solving.  
 
Learning about chamber music in such an immersive environment is a really exciting opportunity for your students. What are the most important things that you need to know about creating collaborative musical relationships?

This one is a big topic but some of the key elements in collaborative musical partnerships include: 

* commitment to a shared musical vision
* trusting your fellow collaborators
* communicate effectively - give and accept feedback graciously
* listen openly and with respect. Understand that we all have different strengths that we bring to a performance.
* responsiveness to new ideas
* sublimating your own ego to the great musical goal

The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music Chamber Festival 2018 runs from 1pm - 9pm on Sunday 29th July.